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NFL Tweaks Overtime Possession Format for Postseason Games


The NFL has tweaked its overtime format, but only for postseason play.

The new rule, which passed Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting, will give both teams a chance to possess the ball in overtime no matter what happens on the opening possession. The overtime period for postseason games will be untimed.

The league's previous format for the playoffs allowed a team to end the game by scoring a touchdown on the opening possession of overtime.

The Colts, Eagles and Titans all presented rule change proposals earlier this month.

There were a pair of playoff overtime games last season, with the one between the Chiefs and Bills garnering lots of national attention. Kansas City scored on the first possession of OT to end the game, leaving Buffalo's potent offense on the sideline.

According to research from NFL Media, teams who have won the coin toss and received the ball first since 2010 have gone 10-2 in playoff games. Seven of those victories have occurred because of an opening-drive touchdown.

Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf spoke to media members on Tuesday in Florida.

"We ended up that it's going to be in the postseason only, where there's equity. This kind of gets the coin toss to be a more 50-50 type of deal," Wilf said. "I think that's the right deal. It's going to make the games more equitable and that's the idea – that the coin toss shouldn't be as determinative as it was."

Wilf was also asked why the change was made only for playoff games.

"I think just the sense that the postseason, where the stakes are that much higher, where you're out, out," Wilf added. "There were some statistics that were shown to us that the equity was a lot more skewed in the postseason. This will kind of level it out.

The league also announced that a rule from 2021 has been made permanent. This rule maintains the rule that a maximum number of players must be in the setup zone on kickoff returns.

The NFL also amended an Anti-Tampering Policy that was submitted by Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

This policy is in regards to secondary football executive positions, and it allows the employer club the choice to retain its player personnel staff through the annual draft.

From the conclusion of the draft to June 30, employer clubs are now required to grant permission for another club to interview and hire a non-high-level executive or non-secondary football executive for a secondary football executive position.