News  

 

Postseason overtime rules

  • By National Football League
More Columns >

NFL owners voted at the Annual Meeting in March to amend overtime rules for the postseason to a MODIFIED SUDDEN DEATH format. Teams will now have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once in the extra period unless the team that receives the overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession.

Here's a look at the NFL's overtime procedures for the postseason:

POSTSEASON - MODIFIED SUDDEN DEATH


The modified sudden death system of determining the winner shall prevail when the score is tied at the end of regulation playing time of postseason NFL games. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

» At the end of regulation time, the Referee will immediately toss a coin at the center of the field in accordance with rules pertaining to the usual pregame toss. The captain of the visiting team will call the toss prior to the coin being flipped.

» Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.

» Instant Replay: No challenges. Reviews to be initiated by the replay assistant.

Key Definitions: 

» Possession: Actual possession of the ball with complete control. The defense gains possession when it catches, intercepts, or recovers a loose ball.

» Opportunity to possess: The opportunity to possess occurs only during kicking plays. A kickoff is an opportunity to possess for the receiving team. If the kicking team legally recovers the kick, the receiving team is considered to have had its opportunity. A punt or a field goal that crosses the line of scrimmage and is muffed by the receiving team is considered to be an opportunity to possess for the receivers. Normal touching rules by the kicking team apply.

There have been 27 overtime postseason games, starting with the 1958 NFL Championship.

POSTSEASON OVERTIME HISTORY - CHRONOLOGICAL 

(Home team in CAPS)

DATE SEASON PLAYOFF ROUND GAME LENGTH
Dec. 28, 1958 1958 NFL Championship Baltimore 23, N.Y. GIANTS 17 68:15
Dec. 23, 1962 1962 AFL Championship Dallas Texans 20, HOUSTON 17 77:54
Dec. 26, 1965 1965 Divisional GREEN BAY 13, Baltimore 10 73:39
Dec. 25, 1971 1971 Divisional Miami 27, KANSAS CITY 24 82:40
Dec. 24, 1977 1977 Divisional Oakland 37, BALTIMORE 31 75:43
Jan. 2, 1982 1981 Divisional San Diego 41, MIAMI 38 73:52
Jan. 3, 1987 1986 Divisional CLEVELAND 23, N.Y. Jets 20 77:02
Jan. 11, 1987 1986 AFC Championship Denver 23, CLEVELAND 20 65:38
Jan. 3, 1988 1987 Wild Card HOUSTON 23, Seattle 20 68:05
Dec. 31, 1989 1989 Wild Card Pittsburgh 26, HOUSTON 23 63:26
Jan. 7, 1990 1989 Divisional L.A. Rams 19, N.Y. GIANTS 13 61:06
Jan. 3, 1993 1992 Wild Card BUFFALO 41, Houston 38 63:06
Jan. 8, 1994 1993 Wild Card KANSAS CITY 27, Pittsburgh 24 71:03
Jan. 17, 1999 1998 NFC Championship Atlanta 30, MINNESOTA 27 71:52
Dec. 30, 2000 2000 Wild Card MIAMI 23, Indianapolis 17 71:16
Jan. 19, 2002 2001 AFC Divisional NEW ENGLAND 16, Oakland 13 68:29
Jan. 11, 2003 2002 AFC Divisional TENNESSEE 34, Pittsburgh 31 62:15
Jan. 4, 2004 2003 Wild Card GREEN BAY 33, Seattle 27 64:25
Jan. 10, 2004 2003 Divisional Carolina 29, ST. LOUIS 23 75:10
Jan. 11, 2004 2003 Divisional PHILADELPHIA 20, Green Bay 17 64:48
Jan. 8, 2005 2004 Wild Card N.Y. Jets 20, SAN DIEGO 17 74:55
Jan. 15, 2005 2004 Divisional PITTSBURGH 20, N.Y. Jets 17 71:04
Jan. 14, 2007 2006 Divisional CHICAGO 27, Seattle 24 64:53
Jan. 20, 2008 2007 NFC Championship N.Y. Giants 23, GREEN BAY 20 62:26
Jan. 3, 2009 2008 AFC Wild Card SAN DIEGO 23, Indianapolis 17 66:12
Jan. 10, 2010 2009 Wild Card ARIZONA 51, Green Bay 45 61:18
Jan. 24, 2010 2009 NFC Championship NEW ORLEANS 31, Minnesota 28 64:45

 

The playoffs have featured at least one overtime game in nine of the past 10 postseasons, including two last year.

A look at NFL overtime playoff games since 2000:

SEASON ROUND TEAMS GAME-WINNING SCORE
2000 WC Miami 23, Indianapolis 17 RB Lamar Smith scores on 17-yard TD run.
2001 Div. New England 16, Oakland 13 K Adam Vinatieri connects on 23-yard FG.
2002 Div. Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 31 K Joe Nedney wins it with 26-yard FG.
2003 WC Green Bay 33, Seattle 27 CB Al Harris returns INT 52 yards for TD.
2003 Div. Carolina 29, St. Louis 23 (2 OT) QB Jake Delhomme connects with WR Steve Smith on 69-yd TD.
2003 Div. Philadelphia 20, Green Bay 17 K David Akers wins game with 31-yard FG.
2004 WC NY Jets 20, San Diego 17 K Doug Brien converts 28-yard FG.
2004 Div. Pittsburgh 20, NY Jets 17 K Jeff Reed connects on 33-yard game-winner.
2006 Div. Chicago 27, Seattle 24 K Robbie Gould converts game-winning FG from 49 yards out.
2007 Champ. NY Giants 23, Green Bay 20 K Lawrence Tynes wins it with 47-yard FG.
2008 WC San Diego 23, Indianapolis 17 RB Darren Sproles scores on 22-yard TD run.
2009 WC Arizona 51, Green Bay 45 LB Karlos Dansby scores on 17-yard FR-TD.
2009 Champ. New Orleans 31, Minnesota 28 K Garrett Hartley converts 40-yard game-winning FG.

 

An overtime history of the 2010 playoff participants:

TEAM 2010 OT RECORD ALL-TIME REGULAR-SEASON OT RECORD PLAYOFF OT RECORD
Atlanta Falcons 1-1 13-19-2 (.412) 1-0
Baltimore Ravens 2-1 9-7-1 (.559) 0-0
Chicago Bears 0-0 22-15-0 (.595) 1-0
Green Bay Packers 0-2 11-15-4 (.433) 2-3
Indianapolis Colts 0-1 12-10-1 (.543) 1-4
Kansas City Chiefs 1-1 12-17-2 (.419) 2-1
New England Patriots 1-0 17-20-0 (.459) 1-0
New Orleans Saints 0-1 8-11-0 (.421) 1-0
New York Jets 2-0 18-16-2 (.528) 1-2
Philadelphia Eagles 0-0 11-16-4 (.419) 1-0
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-0 20-14-2 (.583) 2-2
Seattle Seahawks 0-0 8-17-0 (.320) 0-3

 

Following are the Approved Rulings pertaining to postseason overtime as found on pages 106-108 of the 2010 Official Casebook of the NFL:

APPROVED RULINGS 

RULE 16-SUDDEN DEATH

A.R. 16.1 KICKOFF RETURN FOR TOUCHDOWN
Team B receives the opening kickoff and returns it for a touchdown.
Ruling: Game over. Team B wins.

A.R. 16.2 ONSIDE KICK
On the opening kickoff of overtime, Team A legally recovers the ball at the A41.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on A41. A kickoff is considered an opportunity to possess for the receiving team. Team B is considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball.

A.R. 16.3 ONSIDE KICK
On the opening kickoff of overtime, Team A attempts an onside kick. A2 legally touches the ball at the A42 but muffs it and it is recovered by B1 at the A43.
Ruling: B's ball, first-and-10 on A43. Team A is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball.

A.R. 16.4 MUFFED KICKOFF
Following a successful field goal on the opening possession of overtime, Team A's kickoff is muffed by B1 at the B35 and is recovered by A2.
Ruling: Game over. Team A wins. Team B had an opportunity to possess the ball.

A.R. 16.5 TOUCHDOWN ON FIRST POSSESSION
Team A drives down the field on the opening possession of overtime and scores a touchdown.
Ruling: Game over. Team A wins.

A.R. 16.6 FIELD GOAL ON FIRST POSSESSION
Team A kicks a field goal on the opening possession of overtime.
Ruling: Three points for Team A, but the game is not over. Team A must kick off to Team B. If Team B scores a touchdown or does not score the game is over. If Team B scores a field goal the game continues under sudden death.

A.R. 16.7 MUFFED PUNT
On the opening possession of overtime, Team A punts and B3 muffs the punt at the B20. A6 recovers at the B22.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B22. Team B had the opportunity to possess the kick. Both teams have met the minimum requirements for possession and the first team to score wins.

A.R. 16.8 FUMBLED KICKOFF RETURN
On the opening kickoff of overtime, B3 returns the ball to the B30 where he is hit and fumbles. A6 muffs the loose ball to the B28 where B5 recovers.
Ruling: B's ball, first-and-10 on B28. Since the ball was loose from a fumble as opposed to a kick, Team A is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball.

A.R. 16.9 BLOCKED PUNT
Fourth-and-5 on A45. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's punt is blocked by B3 at the A35. A2 picks up the loose ball at the A40 and runs to the 50 for a first down.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on 50. Team B is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball because it did not touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

A.R. 16.10 BLOCKED PUNT
Fourth-and-5 on A45. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's punt is blocked by B3 at the A35. B4 attempts to pick up the loose ball at the A40 but muffs it to the A33 where it is recovered by A4 who runs to the B40 for a first down.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B40. Team B is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball because it did not touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

A.R. 16.11 BLOCKED PUNT
Fourth-and-5 on A45. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's punt is blocked by B3 at the A35. The ball hits the ground beyond the line at the B48 and bounces back to the A43 where it is recovered by A4 who runs to the B40 for a first down.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B40. Team B is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball because it did not touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

A.R. 16.12 BLOCKED PUNT
Fourth-and-5 on A45. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's punt is blocked by B3 at the A35. The ball bounces beyond the line to the A48, where B4 muffs the loose ball to the A45 where it is recovered by A4.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on A45. By touching the punt beyond the line of scrimmage, a new series is awarded to Team A. Since Team B had the opportunity to possess the ball, both teams have met the minimum requirements for possession.

A.R. 16.13 FUMBLE
Third-and-5 on A30. On the opening possession of overtime, A2 takes a handoff and runs to the B35 where he fumbles the ball. B2 recovers the ball and runs to the B40.
Ruling: B's ball, first-and-10 on B40. Both teams have had an actual possession and the first team to score wins.

A.R. 16.14 FUMBLE
Third-and-5 on A30. On the opening possession of overtime, A2 takes a handoff and runs to the B35 where he fumbles the ball. B2 recovers the ball and runs to the B40 where he is hit and fumbles. A5 recovers at the B41.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B41. Both teams have possessed the ball and the first team to score wins.

A.R. 16.15 INTERCEPTION
Third-and-5 on A30. On the opening possession of overtime, B2 intercepts a pass at the 50 and returns it for a touchdown.
Ruling: Game over. Team B wins. Each team has had an actual possession.

A.R. 16.16 FUMBLE
Second-and-10 on A30. On the opening possession of overtime, A2 takes a handoff and runs to the A38 where he fumbles the ball. B2 muffs the loose ball at the A35 and it is recovered by A5 at the A33.
Ruling: A's ball, third-and-7 on A33. Since the ball was loose from a fumble as opposed to a kick, Team B is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball.

A.R. 16.17 TOUCHING OF A PASS
Third-and-5 on A30. On the opening possession of overtime, A1 drops back to pass and throws the ball from the A23. The ball is tipped by defensive lineman B4 at the A25 and is caught by tight end A3 at the A34. A3 runs to the A40 where he is tackled.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on A40. Touching of a pass by Team B does not constitute an opportunity to possess the ball.

A.R. 16.18 INCOMPLETE PASS
Second-and-5 on A30. On the opening possession of overtime, A1 drops back to pass and throws the ball from the A23 toward receiver A2 at the B40. Cornerback B4 jumps up to intercept the pass and lands with his left foot inbounds and his right foot on the sideline.
Ruling: A's ball, third-and-5 on A30. An incomplete pass is not considered an opportunity to possess.

A.R. 16.19 SAFETY
Third-and-5 on A7. On the opening possession of overtime, A1 is tackled in his own end zone for a safety.
Ruling: Game over. Team B wins. Both teams have met the minimum requirements for possession.

A.R. 16.20 FIELD GOAL
Fourth-and-5 on B25. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's field-goal attempt is blocked by B3 at the line of scrimmage and lands at the B28 where it is recovered by A4 who runs to the B18 for a first down.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B18. Team B is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball because it did not touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

A.R. 16.21 FIELD GOAL
Fourth-and-5 on B25. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's field-goal attempt is blocked by B3 at the line of scrimmage. The ball hits the ground beyond the line at the B22 and bounces back to the B28 where it is recovered by A4 who runs to the B18 for a first down.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B18. Team B is not considered to have had an opportunity to possess the ball because it did not touch the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.

A.R. 16.22 FIELD GOAL
Fourth-and-5 on B25. On the opening possession of overtime, Team A's field-goal attempt is blocked by B3 at the line of scrimmage. The ball bounces beyond the line to the B20, where B4 muffs the loose ball to the B18 where it is recovered by A4.
Ruling: A's ball, first-and-10 on B18. Because Team B touched the kick beyond the line of scrimmage, a new series is awarded to Team A. Since Team B had the opportunity to possess the ball, both teams have met the minimum requirements for possession.

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop

NFL News
CONTENT
15