Change coming to NFL overtime rules? Rich McKay says format is ‘in a pretty good place’

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PHOENIX – In addition to the use of instant replay, a potential change to the overtime format is another pressing subject that will be discussed at the annual league meetings over the next few days.

As the rule currently stands, if the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown on the opening drive, the game is over. During the regular season, if the score doesn’t change and time runs out, the game will result in a tie. In the postseason, if the score remains tied at the end of the 10 minutes, the teams will keep playing until a score occurs.The Kansas City Chiefs have proposed a change to the current rule that would allow each team an opportunity to possess the ball, regardless if a team scores on the opening drive.

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According to data given to Rich McKay, who is competition committee chairman, the current format has helped get overtime to the best place it’s ever been in terms of improving the kickoff team’s win rate.

In 2018, the receiving team won 48.4 percent of the time and the kickoff team won 45.2 percent of the time.

“It has continued to do what we wanted it to do with overtime which is reduce the gap [in win rate] between the team who wins the toss and the team that losses the toss,” McKay said. “It’s the smallest gap we’ve ever had in the history of overtime. We think right now overtime is in a pretty good place.”

Here is the formal rule change proposal submitted by the Chiefs:

  • By Kansas City; to amend Rule 16 to (1) allow both teams the opportunity to possess the ball at least one time in overtime, even if the first team to possess the ball in overtime scores a touchdown; (2) eliminate overtime for preseason; and (3) eliminate overtime coin toss so that winner of initial coin toss to begin game may choose whether to kick or receive, or which goal to defend.

The format for overtime has changed a number of times over the past 20 years with the most notable change being to the length of time that took place in 2017. The overtime period was cut from 15 minutes to 10.

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