The Eagles, Colts, and Titans had proposed new overtime rules for NFL games. Before the recent change, a team could lose a game in overtime without having the opportunity to score on offense.
In 2018, the Patriots beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship 37-31 in overtime. MVP Patrick Mahomes wasn’t given the opportunity to lead the Chiefs downfield. After the game, there was a lot of discussion about changing the overtime rules.
Last season, the Chiefs took down the Bills 42-36 in a similar overtime situation in the AFC Divisional round. Momentum grew even further after the game and many NFL executives want to make a change.
The Eagle’s proposal would give the team that plays on defense first in overtime an opportunity to score on the next possession. That team would then have to at least match the opponent’s score. The overtime rules have been constantly changing overtime and are a major source of debate.
1941: Sudden-death rule was added for divisional playoff games (at the time, these were one-game playoffs to break a division tie to advance to the NFL title game).
1946: Sudden death was extended to the championship game to avoid co-champions (first put into effect 11 years later).
1974: A single sudden-death period was added for regular season and preseason games.
2010: A “modified sudden death” that extended the overtime past a first-possession field goal.
2012: Modified sudden death implemented for regular season and preseason games, except that no more than one period would be played.
2017: Overtime in the regular season and preseason games was reduced to 10 minutes.
2022: Each team is guaranteed at least one possession for playoff games.
The new overtime rule would be much fairer for both teams and not let the coin toss be a big factor in determining the game. Teams that win the coin toss have an 86-77-10 (.558) record. Some opponents of the new overtime changes still have arguments that make sense. Why should a team be given the right to score if their defense can’t hold the other team?
In the playoffs, two teams have won on the first play of overtime. In 2003, tied 23-23 in the Divisional round, Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith Sr. to defeat the Rams. Then in 2011, Tied 23-23 in the Wildcard round, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas to defeat the Steelers.
Fourth & 26
Looking back to nearly two decades ago, the Eagles had no issue dealing with sudden-death overtime. In the 2003 Divisional round, the Eagles were hosting the Packers. After being down 17-14, the Eagles converted on a famous fourth & 26 play and then tied the game.
In overtime, the Eagles won the toss and got the ball first. The Packers held them and forced the Eagles to punt. On the Packer’s opening play of their drive, Brett Favre threw an interception to Brian Dawkins and the Eagles got the ball back. The Eagles marched into better field position and David Akers hit a 31-yard field goal to win the game.
The NFL had been angling towards an overtime change, and one had passed. However, the Eagles wanted the overtime proposal to extend to the regular season as well. There is now a different standard between the regular season and playoff games in the NFL.