The NFL post-season brings with it a greater chance of overtime as games can’t end in ties, but what actually the NFL overtime rules for the playoffs? Is it any different to the regular season?
16 NFL teams are a step closer to lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy on February 13th in California.
They have made it through to the NFL post-season, and the playoffs.
The possibility of needing overtime to decide matches is now higher than in the regular season but how does it work?
What are the NFL overtime rules?
NFL overtime rules explained
Overtime starts pretty simply in the NFL – there’s a coin toss with the visiting captain making the call.
He can opt to either kick off, or receive the ball.
Whichever one of the two teams starts with the ball is then obligated to score a touchdown.
Under the NFL overtime rules, if this happens, the game is over immediately without the need for both teams to have had a possession.
Another way the team kicking off can win is through scoring a safety.
If they do this on the receiving team’s initial possession, the kicking team will be declared winners.
However, if this first play – or possession – in overtime does not result in any score being made, the game simply continues on until one team does score -through any method.
Should the team who have kicked off score a field goal, then their opponents will also have the opportunity to possess the ball.
How long can overtime last?
As long as it takes.
In the regular season, a tie in normal time leads to a single 10-minute period of overtime.
If it is still level after that, then the game ends in a tie.
Obviously this is fine in the regular season as a tie is an acceptable result.
Knockout playoff matches need to have a winner – that’s generally the point of them.
Any team leading at the end of an overtime period under the NFL rules is the winner.
If, after four periods of overtime, there is still no winner, there is another coin toss and the game continues.
The full NFL overtimes rules can be found here:
The history making overtime
In all previous 53 Super Bowls, 52 of them have been decided in normal, regulation time.
The only exception was Super Bowl LI in 2017 – the Patriots vs the Atlanta Falcons.
Memorably, the Falcons raced into a 21-3 half-time lead, although Tom Brady soon sorted that out.
The Falcons actually went 28-3 ahead, before Brady dragged the Pats back into the game.
In the fourth quarter, the Pats won 19-0 to tie the game up at 28-28.
Brady threw James White a touchdown, just, in the first period to seal a 34-28 win and enter NFL folklore.