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2010 NFL Postseason - What are the NFL Playoff Overtime Rules?

Updated on June 14, 2011

New NFL Postseason Overtime Rules

The 2010 NFL Playoffs mark the first season the new NFL Playoff Overtime Rules go into effect.

Many believe the postseason rules were updated due to the results of the 2009 NFC Championship game between Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. It was a hard-fought, postseason game that went into overtime.

The Saints won the coin-toss then proceeded to march down the field to score the game-winning field goal leaving the Vikings without one possession in the overtime period to attempt to win the game.

The New Orleans Saints would go on to face the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl and win the first NFL Championship in franchise history.

During the NFL Owners Meeting in March of 2010, an agreement was reached in creating a new set of Overtime Rules for the NFL Playoffs:

Tom Brady, QB - NE Patriots

Tom Brady Leads the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL Playoffs
Tom Brady Leads the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL Playoffs | Source

Aaron Rodgers, QB - GB Packers


Current Overtime Rules for the NFL Playoffs

- The receiving team (Team A) will gain possession with the opportunity to score a field goal or touchdown during their first drive. If they score a touchdown during their first possession, the game is over and Team A wins the game.

- If Team A kicks a field goal during their first possession, Team B will receive one possession with a chance to either tie the game with a field goal and extend the overtime period, or win the game with a touchdown. If Team B does not score, Team A wins the game.

- If Team B records a Safety during the initial possession of Team A, Team B wins the playoff game.

- If Team B intercepts the ball for a touchdown or recovers a fumble for a touchdown. Team B wins the game.

- If Team B recovers an onside kick during the opening kickoff of the overtime period, Team B gains possession and wins the game with any score.

- If neither team scores in its first possession, the Regular Season Sudden Death Format goes into effect.

Why New Overtime Rules?

The former NFL Playoff Overtime rules came under scrutiny due to the belief that far too often the overtime coin-toss determined the outcome of the football game.

According to Advanced NFL Stats, throughout 124 overtime NFL games from 2000 to 2007, the winner of the coin-toss went on to win the game 60% of the time.

Of those 124 overtime games, 37 ended the same as the 2010 NFC Championship game with one team never having possession of the football.

With so much on the line in the NFL Playoffs, it was determined that such large percentages were no longer acceptable after the end of the regular season.

There have been 13 NFL Playoff games decided in overtime since 2000 with eight being decided by a field goal. There were two postseason games decided in overtime in the 2009 NFL season.

The NFL Regular Season still maintains the Sudden Death Rules in which once a team scores in any way, the game is over with the scoring team pronounced the winner.

What do you think about the NFL Playoffs Overtime Rules? Should they change it to NCAA Rules or include the Postseason Rules in the Regular Season as well?


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    • bogerk profile image

      bogerk 7 years ago from Midwest

      Hi SportsInfo247 -

      That's exactly what happens. Sometime if you are bored (really bored) you should check for the official rules (the link is in the article) as there are about 50 different scenarios. It can be pretty complicated.

      Thanks for reading.

    • SportsInfo247 profile image

      SportsInfo247 7 years ago from Arizona

      So what happens if team A kicks a field goal, then team B goes down and kicks a tying field goal? Does it then just revert to the next team that scores wins?