Is it worth changing the overtime rule in 2020?


So, what about that overtime rule?

It is no secret that the Kansas City Chiefs have talked a lot about a possible change of the overtime rules after their defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship back in January.

Andy Reid himself proposed a change to the NFL overtime rule that would allow both teams to get the ball after regulation. Unfortunately, the change was not voted for next season and was pushed back to 2020.

So let’s make a quick sum up of the NFL overtime rules. Basically, the fate of both teams relies on a coin toss!

But going beyond that statement…

The NFL’s overtime rules were amended in 2017 to make the teams play 10 minutes instead of the 15 extra minutes previously indicated in the rules. At the time the rules were changed in the name of the players’ safety.


The sudden-death NFL overtime format was decided back in 2010. It gives both teams the chance to possess the ball at least once in overtime unless the team that receives the overtime kickoff (based on a coin toss) scores a touchdown on its first possession.

The Chiefs’ proposal is simple. Years have passed and the overtime rules have created some infamous situations around the league. Many NFL fans, journalists and insiders criticized the league’s overtime rules back in 2017, when the Patriots beat the Falcons in Super Bowl 51 the same way they beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship — game over in only one offensive drive. So why not changing it to make it more equitable to both teams?


The proposal to be voted in 2020 states the following three main points:

  • Allowing 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.
  • Eliminate overtime for preseason.
  • 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.

At least 24 NFL owners out of the 32 have to vote positively to the change to make it become an official rule.

So far, the Cowboys have publicly responded in favor of this change.


At the end of the day, football is a game that balances perfectly the defense and offense, so why not give a shot to both of them without talking about the frustration of ending a game being unable to watch your team even try to make it?

The supporters of the current rule will argue that the defense in the case of the Chiefs-Patriots game could have stopped New England and therefore give another chance to Mahomes to score, and it is also true, but relying on a coin toss to know who will go first seems a little bit unfair.

After 35 years of games using that overtime format, in 2010, it was amended for playoff games. A field goal on the first drive of overtime no longer was enough for a team to win in sudden death. Instead, a touchdown was required. That format was expanded in 2012 to be used in preseason games and regular-season games, too.

I am used to seeing ties, as in Europe, soccer is filled with them. And if two teams tie in a final, of course, they go ahead through a fixed overtime period. The one who scores during this time wins. If no one scores, or both teams have scored the same amount of goals at the end of the overtime, they go through the feared penalty kicks.

The league seems to be working on making the games safer protecting the players against long games, hits and so on, but this sport will have everything to lose if there is no entertainment anymore.

The purpose is understandable if that is why they have implemented that rule the way we know it today, but the show is what brings the fans to the stadium, and seeing their team lose without having another offensive shot does not help it.


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