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Revamped playoff overtime format highlights rule changes

NFL overtime just got a little more interesting.

OK, a lot more interesting.

While speaking in front of the assembled media at Jets Training Camp Friday at the campus of SUNY Cortland, a group of NFL officials divulged a number of rule changes for the upcoming season to the assembled media.

And one rule change will catch the attention of more fans than the others: the end of the complete sudden death aspect of NFL overtime.

In the playoffs, that is. Just the playoffs. Overtime will continue in its current sudden death format throughout the entirety of the regular season.

The rule change goes from complete sudden death in the playoffs to the following. Both teams will now get a shot at possession in the overtime session in all cases, unless the team that first received the kickoff scores a touchdown.

If the receiving team scores on a field goal, the opposing team will get a chance at possession to either tie the game with a field goal or win the game.

If both teams either don’t score, or both score on field goal attempts, overtime then enters the former complete sudden death format.


There were about a half other rule changes including the following:

--During all plays, if the helmet of a ball carrier comes off during the play, the play is dead immediately. This is the same as the rule in college football.

--In Overtime, the number of timeouts increases from 2 to 3.

--Prior to field goal and punt attempts, defensive linemen must now line up completely outside of the shoulders of snappers – on each side.

--And, on kick returns and punt returns, when the kick returner has called for a fair catch and has muffed the attempted catch, and there has been fair catch interference, after the play there is no penalty yardage.

The former rule was that if a returner had muffed a catch after calling for a fair catch, the defense would be penalized five yards for the fair catch interference. Now, the ball will be spotted at the spot of the foul (fair catch interference).

Again this is only with regards to fair catch interference after a muffed catch on a kick return.

New York Sports