NFL Overtime Rules
NFL overtime rules aren’t all that hard to understand. But if you’re a casual fan, then you might need a little refresher course on them. Here’s a not-too-hard-to-understand list of basic NFL overtime rules.
- The coin toss. If the two teams are tied at the end of a regulation NFL game, then they go into a fifteen minute sudden death overtime period. Who gets the ball first is extremely important, as the other team may never even gets a chance to possess the ball in the overtime period. At the beginning of each overtime session, a coin flip is held to decide who gets a chance to get the ball first; the same way it is done at the beginning of each game. The visiting team gets to call heads or tails. They then decide if they want the ball or want to kick off to the opposing team.
- Gameplay. It’s almost exactly the same as regulation NFL football. You have four downs to make a first down, you can run or pass or punt the ball. Referees throw penalty flags, etc. The only difference is that whoever scores first wins the game. That’s the “sudden death” part. The only real difference between regulation and overtime is that if a team scores a touchdown in overtime, the extra point is not attempted since the game is over as soon as the TD is scored.
- Timeouts and challenges. When an NFL game goes to overtime, all unused timeouts are lost. Each team gets two timeouts apiece for the overtime session. As far as coaches challenges, in NFL overtime there are none. Reviews of plays are handled by the replay assistant who is located in the press box. If he finds a play that he needs to look at better, the replay assistant pages the head referee on the field and the game clock is stopped until a ruling is made.
- Ties. Yes, ties can happen in the NFL. In regular season games if neither team scores by the end of the fifteen minute overtime period, the game officially is a tie. Since the introduction of sudden death overtime in 1974, there have been only seventeen NFL games that have officially ended in ties.
- Postseason overtime rule modification. The NFL changed the sudden death rules for the postseason before the 2011 playoffs. Teams now have the chance to possess the ball at least once in the overtime session unless the team that receives the overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession. In other words, if the team that gets the ball first makes a field goal, the other team will get a possession to either re-tie the game with a field goal (in which case, gameplay continues with the sudden death rules in place again) or can win the game with a touchdown.
Posted on: Mar. 15, 2011