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Armando Salguero: NFL Works To Modify Overtime Rules, But There Are Obstacles

PALM BEACH — Page 69 of the NFL Rules Book began to be a major problem for a lot of fans during the playoffs because that’s the section that governs Rule 16. And Rule 16 is all about overtime procedures.

And fans, many boisterously rooting for the Buffalo Bills, want to see the overtime rules changed to allow both teams to possess the football before an overtime winner can be declared.

In last season’s divisional playoff round, the Bills lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 42-36, without ever touching the football in the extra period.

Well, starting Monday, NFL owners here at The Breakers Palm Beach hotel will get a chance to vote on several proposals that would change the rules.

Indianapolis and Philadelphia have proposed to amend Rule 16 by allowing both teams an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.

Tennessee has recommended that both teams possess the football ball in overtime unless the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown and follows with a successful two-point conversion, which would then end the game.

The NFL’s competition committee, chaired by Falcons president Rich McKay, has brought both of those suggestions to ownership for consideration and a vote this week.

“One thing we’ve tried to do is make sure overtime is designed to be traditional football,” McKay said during a conference call with reporters, “and that means we’re going to have special teams, we’re going to have field position, we’re going to have the ability to play defense. All those things are elements. We’ve never tried, as a committee, to get ourselves in any type of gimmick in the football game. We try to play traditional football.”

The current overtime rules state that the first team to score a touchdown wins the game, but fortunately or unfortunately, offenses in today’s NFL have gotten really good at scoring. And so overtime outcomes have often been decided on a coin toss.

“The progression of offense and how efficient offenses are, specifically in the postseason where in 12 overtime games, the coin-toss winning teams won 10 times and seven of those on the first drive, offenses progress a lot,” McKay said. “So that’s why there’s a discussion of a rules modification.”

This vote will undoubtedly please fans who want change. But the vote might be difficult one because 24 owners — two-thirds of the league — must vote in favor of one of the two proposals to change the rules.

And even people in favor of changing the rules, such as Giant owner John Mara, understand that’s going to be difficult.

“I think with my history on this rule, it tells me that 24 votes are not easy to get,” McKay said. “But I do think that statistics absolutely warrant an examination of whether our overtime rules need to be further modified.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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  1. I think the rules are fine as is. Already have 17 regular season games, might be extended to 18 soon. No reason to make these games any longer. I think you keep it the same at least for the regular season.

    If you want to change it for the post-season I’m good with that. I like the score a TD and you have to go for 2 rule. If you score a TD on the first possession and convert for 2, game over. If you miss the 2pt conversion the other team has to score a TD on their first possession and go for two. If they also miss the 2pt conversion, sudden death rules. If you convert, game over.

    Boom. Rules solved.

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