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NFL owners approve modified overtime rule ensuring possession for both teams in playoff games

The NFL has heard your cries and adjusted accordingly -- in the postseason.

The league's owners approved a change to overtime rules on Tuesday that will ensure both teams will receive a possession in overtime, the NFL announced. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport later added that the vote in favor of the rule change was 29-3.

This rule change will only apply to the postseason, where the advantage has statistically been more skewed toward the team winning the overtime coin toss (they're 10-2 in such contests since the previous OT format began in 2010) than in the regular season.

"We always listen to the fans -- that's an important thing," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday. "We're always looking to improve and I think what really drove the decision was the database, ultimately, and looking at the facts and what's happened. Where we saw that most having an influence, I think, was 12 games in the postseason that have been in overtime, seven of which were won on the first possession. When you see that, that's the type of thing that I think our coaches and everyone looked at -- this is an issue in the postseason we should deal with."

Goodell added that he doesn't necessarily believe the new postseason OT rules will eventually be adopted for the regular season, but the league will continue to discuss the rules as they do after every season.

"I think they like the overtime rule in the regular season," Goodell said. "I don't necessarily believe that just because we're doing it in the postseason that'll lead to the regular season. There may be a different solution, you know, the overtime rule has been through a lot of changes. I think it was '10, '12 and '22, so I think we will continue to look at that and sharpen those rules as we do with every rule. One of the things I'm really proud of in this league is we always look every year at our rules and try to make an evaluation on what's best for the game, what's best for the safety of the game, what's best for our players, and most of all what's best for our fans. I think that's paid dividends by the quality of our game."

The playoffs are also the setting from which the most passionate talk-show and water-cooler debates stem. This year, the discourse emerged from hibernation following the end to a thrilling (and exhausting) AFC Divisional Round showdown between Buffalo and Kansas City in which both offenses lit up the scoreboard in the final quarter and neither defense could get a stop.

Unfortunately for Buffalo, the Bills had to play defense first. We know how it went from there.

This time around, the Bills and star quarterback Josh Allen would have received a possession following the Chiefs' touchdown. How the two teams approached it strategically might have differed from the moment Kansas City scored, too:

Interestingly, a separate overtime rule change proposal included a game-ending scenario akin to an arcade game superpower (bringing down the house in NBA Ballers, anyone?). In this rejected proposal, a touchdown scored and successful two-point conversion from the team that first possessed the ball could have immediately ended the game.

This is not that proposal, as Pelissero tweeted, leaving coaches to consider preemptively going for two in overtime in order to avoid the opposing team following up an initial touchdown with their own touchdown and a two-point conversion. Essentially, a team can't bank on a touchdown and extra point standing as enough to keep the game going if the opposition scores a TD in response.

Of course, all of this could be solved if teams would, you know, play defensive effectively enough to force a change of possession. There are three phases to the game, folks, and Cincinnati did exactly this to win the AFC Championship Game a week after Buffalo's heartbreaking loss, but this is not the place for soapboxes.

The forward-thinking league will continue its push beyond the modern era of the game with this rule change. It might not be long before the adjustment in rules applies to every game.

Also notable among rule changes and resolutions passed Tuesday: The league made permanent a health-and-safety change to free kick formations, and also allowed clubs to block other teams from hiring away secondary football executives (i.e., assistant general managers) prior to the completion of the NFL draft.

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