Tuesday, October 3, 2023

NFL overtime changes coming? Competition committee to discuss possibilities this week

The Indianapolis Colts have submitted a proposal to guarantee each team an overtime possession, according to NFL Network’s Judy Battista. If approved, the rule change would apply both to the regular and postseason. 

Rich McKay, chair of the NFL’s competition committee, said that possible changes to overtime will undoubtedly be brought up when the committee meets this week, according to Battista. Teams may propose overtime changes for solely the postseason or for both the regular season as well as the postseason. It is unclear whether there is enough of a league-wide consensus to alter the league’s current overtime format.

The NFL’s overtime policy was a major topic of conversation during the 2021 playoffs, especially after the Chiefs‘ overtime win over the Bills in the AFC divisional round. Many argued that the Bills’ offense should have been given an opportunity to possess the ball after Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense scored a game-ending touchdown after winning the coin toss to start the extra session. 

The NFL implemented a sudden-death overtime format for any divisional tiebreak games in 1940. The league added sudden-death overtime to the postseason in 1946. The NFL’s first-ever overtime period was played during the 1958 NFL Championship Game, with Johnny Unitas’ Colts posting a 23-17 win over the Giants

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It wasn’t until 1974 when the league instituted sudden-death overtime for any regular-season game that was tied after 60 minutes. The overtime period changed from 15 to 10 minutes for regular-season games in 2017. In 2011, the NFL made a change to playoff overtime games that was implemented into the regular season in 2012. Those changes, which are still in effect today, give the team that starts overtime on defense a chance to possess the ball as long as they don’t allow a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. If both teams kick a field goal on their initial drives, overtime goes into sudden death. A touchdown immediately ends the game. 

The Chiefs were involved in both of the NFL’s 2021 postseason overtime games. A week after defeating the Bills, an interception by Mahomes on the Chiefs’ first possession of the AFC Championship Game led to Evan McPherson’s game-winning field goal, sending the Bengals to Super Bowl LVI. 

It will be interesting to see what, if any other suggestions are made as it relates to a possible overtime change. Last year, the Ravens proposed a “spot-and-choose” rule where a team would choose the yard line where the overtime drive starts and the other team would decide whether they want to play offense or defense to start overtime. 

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