NFL owners approved new overtime rules on Tuesday, March 29 that will allow both teams to possess the ball in overtime if regulation ends in a tie. This rule change will only be implemented during the postseason.
While there are numerous close games in playoff history for which this new rule could’ve led to drastically different results, the Buffalo Bills‘ overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on January 23 was specifically mentioned by NFL committee members and league analysts as what specifically prompted the rule change.
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Following Buffalo’s 42-36 loss to the Chiefs on January 23, there was a public outcry over the fact that Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen never got to take the field in overtime.
While one of the arguments against changing the overtime rules is that a winning team’s defense should be able to make the stop to earn a possession if they lose the coin toss, ESPN’s Adam Schefter offered a sobering statistic on that issue.
Schefter tweeted, “Here’s what the NFL’s new OT rule is trying to guard against: Over the past decade, teams that won the overtime coin flip in the postseason were 10-2, including seven of those 10 wins coming on the opening possession.”
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero offered further clarification on the amended postseason rules. He tweeted, “So under the new overtime rules, Josh Allen would get the ball in that same playoff-game scenario. And if the game is tied after each team gets its shot, then sudden death ensues…”
Pelissero also noted that instead of going for a touchdown and an extra point, teams who possess the ball first may go for a score and a two-point conversation to up their chances to clinch a win.
While numerous fans complained on Twitter that this new rule change came from the Bills and Chiefs complaining, it was a nearly unanimous decision at the Annual League Meeting. Only three teams voted against having an extra possession in overtime, the Vikings, Dolphins, and Bengals, per NBC Sports’ Albert Breer.
However, The Athletic’s Chade Graff tweeted, “To clarify the Vikings’ position, per source: They did vote no because they didn’t support that you get unlimited time on your possession to answer a score. But the Vikings support both teams getting the ball in OT.”
Most of Bills Mafia Is Thrilled By the Rule Changes
The new overtime rules would’ve given Allen the chance to at least play in overtime, and for that, the bulk of Buffalo fans applauded the change on Twitter with a better late than never response. Bills Mafia co-founder Del Reid tweeted, “Now make it retroactive, get me a time machine and we’re good to go.”
However, the fact that an overtime playoff game will still come down to sudden death didn’t sit well with SB Nation’s Bruce Nolan.
He tweeted, “So the NFL went in with the idea that they would fix overtime and then didn’t fix overtime.”
An NFL Committee Member Called the Bills/Chiefs Game ‘The Greatest 20-30 Minutes of Football’ Minus the Ending
NFL competition committee member Rich McKay specifically mentioned the Buffalo Bills’ heartbreaking overtime playoff loss while announcing the rule change.
Mckay said during his press conference on Tuesday, “It’s potentially the greatest 20 to 30 minutes in football that I’ve ever seen. Ever. Just watching a game. And to think that it ended that way, definitely brought the idea, ‘Hey, Is that equitable? Does that work for everybody?”
“And so no question, that started the discussion. But what typically happens in these, they tend to lose momentum as you get farther from the game, and that did not happen in this instance.”