NFL overtime rule change is on the verge of passing, but it will be a challenge.
The NFL’s Competition Committee voted unanimously to recommend that two-minute warning in the fourth quarter would move from 40 seconds to 20 for all games beginning next season and ended with 24 votes needed before being approved by owners at the league meetings this week. The measure passed 22-8 earlier today.,
According to competition committee chairman Rich McKay, there is “a lot of momentum” for revising NFL overtime rules, but it is uncertain whether enough owners would agree on a particular plan when they meet next week in Palm Beach, Florida.
Currently, two suggestions are being considered. The Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles have recommended that each team must have at least one overtime possession before going to sudden death. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans suggested a change that would require each team to have an obligatory possession unless the club with the first possession scores a touchdown and converts a successful 2-point try.
The competition committee did not support either request, although McKay said that this was due to the clubs’ thorough coverage of the topic. However, McKay cautioned reporters on a conference call about the difficulties of obtaining the required 24 votes from owners to amend a rule.
“I believe my experience with this regulation tells me that 24 votes are difficult to come by,” McKay added. “However, I believe the numbers call for a closer look at whether overtime regulations need to be tweaked further.”
The current rule permits a team to win in overtime if it scores a touchdown on the opening drive, which was the topic of conversation in January when the Kansas City Chiefs upset the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Chiefs won the coin toss and elected to take the ball first. They scored on their opening drive, putting Bills quarterback Josh Allen and his offense on the sidelines and unable to influence the game’s result.
According to league stats, teams who have won the coin toss have won 50% of the time since the current rule for an opening-possession touchdown was implemented for the 2012 regular season. Since the league reduced overtime from a maximum of 15 minutes to 10 minutes in 2017, the percentage has increased somewhat to 54%, but there has been a significant increase in the playoffs.
Seven of the 12 postseason overtime games have been won on the first possession since the current format was established in 2010, and ten of those 12 have been won by the team that won the coin toss.
Some clubs, according to McKay, prefer to make the modification solely for postseason games.
“You want to be consistent if there was a desire [for change],” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said earlier this month. “I don’t think you should have two sets of regulations for the regular season and the playoffs, but that’s just me.”
Two of the three rule suggestions that owners will examine next week are the overtime ideas. The other is to make a one-year modification to the setup zone on kickoff returns permanent, with the goal of increasing onside kick recoveries.
It’s the “fewest amount of suggestions I’ve seen in a long time,” according to McKay. “This is a good thing. I believe the game is in excellent shape.”
Also in the news:
• The NFL has spent months examining the high rate of punt-related injuries, which Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said earlier this year should be addressed “soon.”
It’s likely that the league may provide new training suggestions in 2022, but any accompanying rule changes won’t be implemented until 2023, according to McKay. He also said they’ll look at the USFL’s modified punt, which prevents gunners from lining up outside the numbers and from being double-teamed until after the kick, to see whether it impacts injury rates. Next month is the start of the USFL season.
• Wayne Mackie, a veteran NFL official who had been assisting to manage the league’s training department since 2017, died unexpectedly while preparing for next week’s meetings in Florida. He was 62 years old at the time.