NFL changes overtime system for postseason games

By Mark Maske
Tuesday, March 23, 2010; 3:44 PM

ORLANDO, Fla.--The NFL's franchise owners voted here Tuesday to ratify a proposal to change the sport's overtime format.

The owners approved the measure, proposed by the NFL's competition committee, by a vote of 28-4 for postseason games only.

But they also will reconsider the measure at a May owners' meeting in Dallas and possibly could use the new system for regular season games as well.

Buffalo, Minnesota, Baltimore and Cincinnati voted against the proposal.

The new system eliminates the possibility of a team winning a postseason game with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.

Under the new system, the team that gets the ball first in overtime could win the game with a touchdown. If that team gets a field goal, the other club would have a chance to get a possession and tie the game with a field goal or win it with a touchdown. If that team gets a tying field goal, the game would proceed on a sudden-death basis. If neither team scores on its first possession of overtime, the game would be sudden death from there.

Competition committee members said they proposed the rule because of a trend over the last 16 years in which the team that wins the overtime coin toss has won the game much more frequently, thanks in part to improved field goal accuracy. Prior to 1994, the team that won the coin toss had won only half the overtime games.

The proposal was not made for regular season games, in large part because of the increased risk of injuries to players that would accompany longer games.

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