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NFL owners vote to change overtime rule for playoff games

Since 2010, seven of the 12 overtime playoff games have been won on an opening possession touchdown, and 10 of 12 have been won by the team that won the coin toss.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — NFL owners approved a modification in NFL rules that will allow both teams' offenses to get the ball in overtime in the playoffs.

The NFL's sudden death overtime has been a pain point for many fans and teams throughout the years, especially in the playoffs. Most recently, the rule faced criticism after the Chiefs defeated the Bills in the AFC Divisional Round after an intense back and forth game with 25 points scored in the final two minutes of regulation.

The Chiefs won the coin toss in overtime, meaning a touchdown on that possession would win them the game and they did just that to advance.

The NFL overtime rule is that if the team that receives the ball after the coin toss scores a touchdown, the game is over. If that team scores a field goal, the other team gets the ball back for a chance to tie or win. 

The postseason rule now means if the team to receive the ball scores a touchdown, the other team gets a chance to either tie the game, or win the game with a two point conversion.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that one head coach told him he predicts many teams who receive the ball first in postseason overtimes and score a touchdown will go for a two point conversion, rather than letting the other team score a matching touchdown and then converting a two point conversion to win. 

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The amendment for the overtime rule was proposed by the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. 

The amendment goes into effect immediately, meaning it begins in the postseason following this upcoming regular season.

The vote on the proposal from NFL owners reportedly passed by a measure of 29-3.

The Titans had recommended that both teams possess the ball in overtime unless the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. That would end the game.

But the owners, perhaps believing the Tennessee suggestion was too gimmicky, went with the other proposal.

Under previous rules, the 10-minute overtime in the regular season only continued if the team getting the ball first failed to score or kicked a field goal. Should the side receiving the kickoff make a field goal, the team that first played defense would get a possession in which it can score a touchdown and win, or kick a field goal and play would continue — if time allowed.

In the postseason, when there are no ties, overtimes continue until someone has more points.

Since the previous overtime rule was instituted for the regular season in 2012, the team that wins the coin toss has won the game half of the time (76 of 152 games). However, both teams have had at least one possession in 82% of the games (124 of 152).

Those numbers change a bit in the postseason. Since 2010, when that rule was instituted for the playoffs, seven of the 12 overtime games have been won on an opening possession touchdown, and 10 of 12 have been won by the team that won the coin toss.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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