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NFL will consider changing playoff overtime rules

NFL owners will discuss a proposal next week that would change the overtime procedure for playoff games beginning with the 2010 season.

Overtime rules have come under scrutiny because in the past 16 seasons the team winning the coin toss has had a significant advantage. Since kickoffs were moved from the 35-yard line to the 30 in 1994, winning the toss has been crucial. From 1994-2009, teams that won the toss won 59.8 percent of games, while those that lost the toss won only 38.5 percent of the time.

"Changes have occurred over time," NFL competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said. "Statistically, it is pretty clear there has been a change.

"When sudden death was put in for 1974, it clearly worked very well and was a good system. It brought excitement and effectively broke ties. From '74-'93 you had a 50-50 [breakdown] in who would win between those who won the toss and who lost the toss.

"The pros of the switch is it tries to rebalance the advantage that's been gained since '94 based on field-goal accuracy being greatly improved, field position being improved. Those on the other side will tell you it works pretty well, it's exciting, and there's an opportunity for less plays, and that is an important product that's needed in overtime."

Under the proposed plan, a team scoring a touchdown on its first drive would win. If the receiving team didn't score and the opponent scored a touchdown or field goal, that team would win.

If the receiving team kicked a field goal, the opponent would get a possession. If it scored a touchdown, that team would win. If it also made a field goal, the game would go to a sudden-death format.

The measure needs 24 of 32 owners' votes to pass, and it's uncertain whether enough teams are prepared to approve it. Players and coaches traditionally have favored the current approach.

"Flozell Adams rule" to be proposed. The competition committee also will address a situation involving Cowboys tackle Flozell Adams at the end of the first half of last year's Giants-Cowboys game at Giants Stadium.

After the Cowboys missed a field-goal attempt, Adams shoved Giants defensive end Justin Tuck from behind near the sideline on the final play of the half, setting off a melee involving several players. Adams was flagged for a personal foul, but because it occurred on the final play of the half, there was no penalty yardage assessed.

Under the current proposal, if a player draws a personal foul on the final play of the second quarter or fourth quarter (if the game goes into overtime), a 15-yard penalty will be assessed on the kickoff. If the foul occurs at the end of the second quarter, the penalty yardage would be assessed on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. If the foul occurs with no time left in the fourth quarter, the yardage would be assessed on the OT kickoff.

Tuck suffered a shoulder injury after being tripped by Adams in Week 1 in Dallas. Tuck lit into Adams after the Giants' 31-24 win at Giants Stadium.

"It takes a coward, and some words I can't say, to push a guy in the back when the play is dead,'' Tuck said. "It just proves what kind of dirtbag he is.''

Giants coach Tom Coughlin expressed dismay that no yardage was assessed against the Cowboys because the play occurred after time expired in the half. He urged that a rule be passed to address future incidents.


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