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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

NFL Competition Committee to propose new post-season OT rule

17

March

It might be possible for both teams to have a chance to possess the football during overtime in the post-season and Super Bowl if NFL owners adopt a proposal by the league's competition committee.

Improvement in field goal accuracy and field position after the kickoff has given teams that win the coin toss in sudden death overtime an increasingly bigger advantage of winning the game.

Under the current system used by the NFL for the regular season and playoffs, the first team to score wins the game regardless of whether they score with a touchdown or field goal. During the regular season, the rules allow for one 15 minute overtime to decide the issue or the game is a tie.

In the post-season, the game continues in extra time until a team scores by touchdown, field goal or safety.

But in the new proposal that will be recommended by the NFL's Competition Committee for the post-season only, both teams would get the ball at least once if no touchdown is scored. For instance, if the team winning the coin toss scores with the field goal, they would kick off to the other team, which would have a chance to tie or win the game.

If the other team responds by tying the game with a field goal, it goes to pure sudden death.

NFL Competition Committee vice-chairman Rich McKay said statistical analysis of overtime results show the team winning the coin toss with a bigger advantage than in years past.

From 1974, when the sudden death rule was instituted to help eliminate ties, until 1993, teams winning and losing the toss each had a 46.8 percent chance of winning the game.

But in 1994, the NFL moved the kickoff back to the 35-yard line and the numbers slowly began to change. From 1994-2009, the team winning the coin toss in OT won the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team losing the coin toss won the game 38.5 percent of the time.

"In our mind, what's happened is, the pros of the switch is to try and rebalance the advantage that's been gained since 1994 based on field goal accuracy being greatly improved and drive start position being improved,'' McKay said. "I would say to you those that are advocates will say we're trying to put in a system that emphasizes more skills and strategy in overtime as opposed to the randomness of the coin flip. Those on the other side will tell you that, hey, it works pretty well, it's exciting and there's an opportunity for less plays and that's an important product that's needed in overtime. That's one of the reasons we've proposed it for post-season only because historically, the post-season has averaged 1.2 overtime games and the regular season has averaged about 15.8.''

The Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings after winning the coin toss in overtime in the NFC Championship game with a field goal during the 2010 post-season. The overtime rule and other proposals will be presented for vote at the annual NFL owner's meetings in Orlando March 21-24.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:57pm]

    

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