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NFL Teams Propose Changes to Overtime Rules

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Three different NFL teams will propose changes to overtime rules starting in the 2022 NFL season, which revolve around allowing both teams to possess the ball.

The proposals center around amending rule 16,or parts of it, which is about sudden-death procedures and how games are to end in overtime. In rule 16, Article 3, Section A says that if the team that gets the kickoff in overtime scores a touchdown on its first possession, then that team wins the game.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts propose that both teams possess the ball during overtime, regardless of whether the first team to posses the ball scores a touchdown.

The Tennessee Titans propose an amendment to rule 16, Section 1, Article 3. This would allow both teams to have possession of the ball, unless the first team that had possession scored a touchdown and converted a two-point try.

The reason for these proposals stems from discussion around the ending to the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills matchup in the AFC Divisional Round. The game ended up going into overtime and the Chiefs moved down the field and scored a touchdown, winning the game 42-36. The Bills couldn’t respond as the rules state the if the first team that possess it in overtime, then that team wins it.

There have been changes to overtime in recent years, but the most drastic one was the change from sudden-death meaning any score, such as a field goal winning the game for the first team to possess the ball, to that team having to score a touchdown to win it in the playoffs. This rule has since been extended to the regular season and preseason, but overtime games in the playoffs take precedent over regular season games.

In playoff games since the rule change, the team that wins the coin toss has won nine out of 11 playoff games. The first game was the 2012 AFC Wild Card game featuring the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow, hit wide receiver Demaryius Thomas with a pass that he took 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in overtime, giving the Broncos a 29-23 win.

The most recent loss was in the 2022 AFC Championship Game, where the Chiefs won the toss. A costly interception from quarterback Patrick Mahomes gave the Cincinnati Bengals the ball and a field goal soon after sent them to their first Super Bowl appearance in over 30 years.

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