Proposals to change the rules for overtime have been submitted by three NFL teams, with Tennessee seeking to include 2-point conversions as part of the process of deciding the winner, the league announced Wednesday.
The Titans have recommended that both teams possess the ball in overtime unless the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. That would end the game.
Indianapolis and Philadelphia have proposed that both teams must have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.
Under current rules, the 10-minute overtime in the regular season ends if the team getting the first possession scores a touchdown, even though the team kicking off never has the ball. Should the side receiving the kickoff make a field goal, the team that first played defense gets a possession in which it can score a touchdown and win, or kick a field goal and play would continue — if time allows.
In the postseason, the rules are the same, except that overtimes continue until someone has more points.
All overtimes would end if the team that kicks off earns a safety on the opening possession. Games in recent years when overtime contests ended after one series — notably the 2017 Super Bowl, when James White ran 2 yards for a touchdown about four minutes into OT and New England came back from 25 points down for a 34-28 win over Atlanta, and the 2019 AFC championship game, when the Patriots marched down the field on a 13-play drive that concluded with Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard TD run to give New England a 37-31 victory over the Chiefs — have sparked debate whether the current rules are fair to both teams.
“I’m a 50/50 shooter," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said at the scouting combine. "Listen, that’s about what it is in the league right now. I’ve gone the opposite way when we played the Patriots and lost in overtime. You feel like you need a shot at it, but the defensive guys say we should stop them, so that’s the part of it. When you look at it, it’s 50/50 across the board, really, whether you win or lose.
“We had an opportunity and didn’t take advantage of it; another we did take advantage of (against Buffalo in January). I think it’s not going to be perfect no matter what. There’s just no perfect remedy to this thing.”
Under the Tennessee proposal, a team would not be required to go for the 2-point conversion after scoring a TD on the opening series of OT. But going for it and being successful would win the game.
Since the current overtime rule was instituted for the regular season in 2012, the team that wins the coin toss has won the game half of the time (76 of 152 games). However, both teams have had at least one possession in 82% of the games (124 of 152).
Those numbers change a bit in the postseason. Since 2010, when the current rule was instituted for the playoffs, seven of the 12 overtime games have been won on an opening possession touchdown, and 10 of 12 have been won by the team that won the coin toss.
The league's powerful competition committee, which presents all rule proposal amendments to the 32 owners, will announce its suggestions next week. The owners' meetings are in Palm Beach, Florida, from March 27-30.
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