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New playoff OT rules

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 5, 2011 – 10:33 am

The Packers have gone to overtime in four of their last six playoff games, so it’s worth knowing the new playoff OT rules before Sunday rolls around.

Essentially, the only difference from the regular-season sudden-death rules is that in the playoffs, the game is not over if the team that wins the coin toss and gets the ball first (Team A) kicks a field goal. If Team A ends that opening possession with a field goal for a three-point lead, the game continues with a kickoff to the other team (Team B), at which point Team B can attempt to re-tie the game with a field goal or win the game with a touchdown. If Team B doesn’t score, Team A wins.

The only way an overtime playoff game can end with only one team getting a chance to possess the ball is if Team A scores a touchdown on that first drive. That would still end the game, same as the regular-season rules.

Otherwise, both teams get an opportunity to possess the ball before the game ends. If Team A punts the ball to Team B, or if Team A turns the ball over to Team B, the game becomes sudden-death from that moment on. If Team A kicks a field goal on the opening drive and Team B responds with its own field goal to re-tie the game, it becomes sudden-death beginning with the next possession.

For those of you wondering, the new playoff OT rules would not have had an impact on Green Bay’s Wild Card playoff loss at Arizona last January. The Packers won the toss and got the ball first, but the Cardinals ran back a fumble for a touchdown. Both teams possessed the ball anyway, due to the fumble recovery.


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