NFL Nation: 2010 OT rules

Video: Coaches react to OT rule change

March, 24, 2010
Pete Carroll, Brad Childress and Sean Payton discuss the new playoff overtime rule.

OT change you can believe in

March, 23, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- So what happened in the posh halls of the Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday to cause a lot of so-called traditionalist owners to overwhelmingly vote in support of a change to the NFL's long-held overtime rule? Well, a couple members of the competition committee chalked it up to presenting a clearer message this time around.

And it probably helped that coaches weren't given an opportunity to vote on the proposal. Something tells me the league wouldn't have found 24 votes from the coaches, who will now have to take a different approach to overtime. (Can't wait to hear Tom Coughlin's thoughts tomorrow morning). But the owners' vote was 28-4, with only the Bills, Vikings, Ravens and Bengals dissenting.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder was convinced the vote would pass earlier Tuesday afternoon and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones openly rooted for the change. At one point Tuesday, there was so much support for the overtime modification that you thought the owners might extend it to the regular-season. But in order to make sure the vote passed, the competition committee chose to simply focus on the playoffs.

Committee co-chairman Rich McKay said he didn't "envision" the owners applying the new rule to the regular-season before 2010, but he indicated there could be further discussion at the next owners meetings in May. McKay also said the NFC title game in which the Saints won the overtime coin toss and quickly scored against the Vikings did not influence the vote.

I'm not buying that line. The biggest thing the committee stressed to the owners is that the sudden-death aspect of the rule wouldn't change. If the team that receives the ball first goes down and scores a touchdown, the game ends immediately.

In the whole scheme of things, this isn't that big of a deal. It's not like we've had a rash of overtime playoff games in recent years. Basically this is a prelude to a change that will eventually be made to the regular-season. I'm not sure why Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was so frustrated with the vote. Obviously, this rule would've benefited his team in the NFC title game.

Just to be clear, the overtime modification is a permanent change. Unlike the original replay rules, this won't be revisited on an annual basis. It's certainly not the perfect solution, but it's better than the previous situation. The kickers have become so accurate that the team that wins the coin toss had an unfair advantage.

In the end, even the traditionalists could not ignore the mounting evidence. I'm hearing some writers complain that this might hamper their deadline writing. Something tells me that wasn't considered in the final vote.

Gailey cast Bills' 'No' vote on OT change

March, 23, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey has made his first official call.

The Bills allowed their new coach to make the decision on how they would vote for the NFL's modified overtime proposal. The Bills were one of only four teams to vote against the proposal, which was recommended by the competition committee and approved Tuesday afternoon at the annual owners meetings.

The new format was adopted for the playoffs only and gives the team that loses the coin toss a possession if the team that wins the flip kicks a field goal on the opening drive. The Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals were the other teams to dissent.

Bills general manager Buddy Nix told reporters Monday he was in favor of the change, but after discussing it with Gailey, the organization reached a consensus.

"I'm speaking for him and I shouldn't be, but he didn't like the rules changing when you go into the playoffs," Nix said. "They should be the same, but now your strategies are different.

"It's not that big a deal, but since it passed, we'll go by the rules."

Nix allowed Gailey to determine the vote because the coach has to abide by the rules, not the scouts or business administrators.

"If it's a decision that involves the game and playing, then I think the coach should make it," Nix said. "To me, he's the guy that's got to deal with it."

NFC West teams back OT changes

March, 23, 2010
All four NFC West teams voted for overtime rules changes in the playoffs.

The 28-4 margin was more convincing than what John Clayton and I anticipated during a recent Double Coverage discussion.

Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis have all played overtime playoff games in the last decade. The new rule would not have affected those games.

The Seahawks suffered a 33-27 road defeat to Green Bay on Jan. 4, 2004 in the game remembered for Matt Hasselbeck's comments during the overtime coin toss. Both teams had possession in that game before the Packers' Al Harris returned an interception for a touchdown.

The Rams suffered a 29-23 home defeat to Carolina six days later when Jake Delhomme threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith on the first play of the second overtime.

Seattle suffered a 27-24 road defeat to Chicago on Jan. 14, 2007 after failing to score on the first possession of overtime.

The Cardinals' 51-45 playoff victory over Green Bay following last season featured a defensive touchdown after the Packers fumbled on the opening possession of overtime.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are two interesting and significant NFC North angles on the NFL's new overtime rule, which requires a team to score touchdown in order to win on the first possession.

1. Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf, who spoke out Monday against the proposal and suggested an alternative of his own, did not change his mind. The Vikings were among four teams to vote against the proposal. The other three NFC North teams voted in favor of the change.

[+] EnlargeHartley
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesGarrett Hartley's field goal propelled the Saints to the Super Bowl. Under the new rule, the field goal wouldn't have ended the game.
The position carried some irony, considering the Vikings' NFC Championship Game loss would have been impacted by the new rule. Had it been enacted for that game, the Vikings would have received a possession after New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley's 40-yard field goal.

But Wilf wanted owners to abolish the overtime kickoff altogether and give the winner of the coin toss possession at its own 20-yard line. Atlanta president Rich McKay, co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said that preserving the kickoff ensured no phase of the game -- offense, defense or special teams -- would be altered in a fundamental way.

Wilf was briskly leaving the afternoon vote when I caught up to him. "I have no comment," he said.

2. A few weeks ago, Mark of Denver asked what would happen under the new rule if a team opens overtime with an onside kick, recovers it and then kicks a field goal on the ensuing possession. I deferred a final answer until we got the exact wording of the rule.

According to the language we received Tuesday, the game would be over in that scenario. The rule calls for both teams to "have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession."

I sought clarification from McKay after Tuesday's news conference, and he confirmed it: Winning the coin toss and choosing to receive the ball offers a team "the opportunity to possess." In other words, it's enough to satisfy the requirements of the new rule.

Snyder thinks OT proposal will pass

March, 23, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- There is growing momentum at the NFL owners meetings to modify overtime in the playoffs in time for next season. And Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder made the strongest statement yet in that regard.

"I think it will pass," Snyder told me Tuesday before joining general manager Bruce Allen for a late lunch.

The competition committee recommended Monday to the 32 owners that a team losing the coin toss and then surrendering a field goal on the first possession should have a series of its own in overtime. At least 24 owners must vote yes on the proposal for it to be ratified. But the competition committee has a strong ally in commissioner Roger Goodell.

"This stays true to the integrity of the game," Goodell told reporters Monday. "The competition committee has come up with something very much worth considering. It keeps the tradition of sudden death, and I think it is responsive to some of the issues that have been brought up."

On Monday, it sounded like the owners might table the issue and resume talks when they met again in May. But it seems like the tide has turned and the commissioner could call for a vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told me earlier today that he thinks the data in favor of a rule change is too compelling to ignore.

"I have high hopes that it can pass," said Jones. "I feel like it would be a good time to give her a try. Ultimately, this could end up being the rule in the regular-season, too."

I asked Eagles coach Andy Reid what he thought about the proposal, but he said he'd been asked by the league not to discuss the issue. With the commissioner throwing his full support behind the proposed change, I think there's a real chance the league will have a modified overtime approved by Wednesday.

The overtime rule has become one of the biggest stories at the owners meetings, in part because Goodell isn't talking about the collective bargaining agreement. His main message regarding labor negotiations was that it's way too soon to start panicking. He also indicated that the two sides would probably resume discussions in the next couple of weeks.

I'll be back a little later to reveal what I learned from Bruce Allen during our brief discussion today.