PALM BEACH, Fla. – NFL owners adopted a new rule Tuesday that will enable both teams to possess the ball in overtime—but only in postseason games.
If the score remains tied after each club has had the ball once, it would then become sudden death, with the next score winning the contest. Previously, a touchdown on the opening drive of overtime ended the game.
The rule passed by a 29-3 vote, with the Bears among the teams that voted in favor of it. The three clubs that voted against it reportedly were the Vikings, Bengals and Dolphins. Rule proposals need at least 24 votes to pass.
"We had a good discussion about it," said Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey. "There was a lot of good data presented about it. We had a good discussion internally about it, decided to hear what the conversation was in the meeting room, and I think it's a good result. The concern they had is that too often a flip of the coin had too much impact on the outcome of the game, particularly playoff games, and so this is designed to address that."
Since 2010, teams that won the overtime coin flip in the postseason are 10-2, with seven of those 10 wins coming on touchdowns scored on the first possession.
Calls for both teams to possess the ball at least once in overtime intensified after the Chiefs' thrilling 42-36 shootout victory over the Bills in a divisional playoff classic in January. Kansas City won the coin toss and scored a touchdown on its first possession to win the game, preventing quarterback Josh Allen and the Bills offense from touching the ball. Allen passed for 329 yards and four TDs in the contest.
The original proposal involved giving both teams a chance to possess the ball in overtime in the regular season as well. But there wasn't enough support for that and a compromise was reached to impact only postseason games.
"There was some concern expressed about adding too much to the number of plays, injury risk," McCaskey said. "And I think the thinking was that in the regular season, that kind of thing could be overcome. But we didn't want that to be a way that some team's season ended."