NFL overtime rules could be set for an overhaul at owners’ meetings

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the Buffalo Bills.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passes against the Buffalo Bills during an overtime win in the AFC divisional playoffs in January. Will the NFL implement new rules that allow both teams to have possession of the ball in overtime?
(Colin E. Braley / Associated Press)

The NFL is in a good place as owners head into their annual meetings this week.

Games are moving at a quicker pace. People are generally happy with instant replay. Onside kick recovery numbers are back up in an acceptable range. And heading into the final week of last season, 18 teams were still alive in the playoff race, tied for the second-most ever.

A problem is overtime rules, and those will be the primary focus as owners, coaches and executives convene to tinker with the game they love.


This is the first year Arizona fans can legally bet at sportsbooks on NCAA tournament games, offering a look at what could be next in California.

March 26, 2022

A pivotal moment came in the AFC playoffs, when Kansas City beat Buffalo 42-36, in an epic game that came to an abrupt end in the extra period when the Chiefs scored a touchdown on their opening possession. The football world bristled that the Bills never got a chance to touch the ball.

The odds are good of those situations happening with increased frequency, seeing as six of the final seven games in the postseason were decided by three points or fewer.

In the 12 overtime playoff games since the current rule took effect in 2010, the team that won the coin toss at the beginning of the extra period won all but two of those games — seven on the opening drive.

“I do think the statistics absolutely warrant whether our overtime rules need to be further modified,” said Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, discussing the meetings on a recent conference call with reporters.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts have made overtime proposals this year that would allow for both sides to get a possession, regardless of whether a touchdown is scored on the opening drive.


Rams GM Les Snead says they are working on best-possible scenarios to reward Aaron Donald and continue to chase titles. Snead also said they’d like Odell Beckham Jr. to return.

March 22, 2022

“I do think there’s a lot of momentum to have a change,” McKay said. “I think the discussion is going to be around these two proposals.”

The Tennessee Titans have floated a more nuanced idea. Under their proposal, a team could win by scoring a touchdown on the opening possession — but only by successfully converting a two-point conversion to cap that touchdown.

For a rules change to take effect, at least 24 of the 32 teams must vote in favor of it.

“That’s usually a pretty big hill to climb the first time,” McKay said. “But let’s see what happens.”