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NFL Playoffs: New Overtime Rule Could Change Game Strategy

We've heard the complaints for years: NFL overtime is won and lost on the coin flip. Well, back in March, the NFL heard your plea and took action. The new overtime will take effect starting this weekend and will be used throughout the playoffs. Most things are going to remain the same. Teams will still do a coin flip and decide whether to kick or receive. Here's a break down of the new rules:

  • Both teams will have the opportunity to control the ball at least once in the overtime period
  • If the first team to control the ball scores, the second team will have a chance to match, or beat, that score.
  • If the second team bests the first's team score, they have won
  • If the second team matches the first team score, the game will enter classic NFL overtime, in sudden death format.

It seems that the NFL is trying to get the best of both worlds. They love the idea of sudden death and don't want to lose the thrill of a long kick, but they also like how even the process is in the college game.

While the rule is very popular among both players and coaches, there is a certain change in strategy that they must adapt to. Christian Caple of The Seattle PI posted these comments on what Seahawk coach Pete Carroll thinks of the rule change:

"There's a lot of things that come up here in terms of decision-making that are going to challenge all the coaching staffs around and we're going through it," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "We're working through it because we want to make sure we're very clear about what we're doing and how we would approach it."

While most analysts don't think Seattle will get anywhere close to having to worry about the new rules, one thing is for sure: If Matt Hasselbeck does scream "We want the ball, we're going to score" at the beginning of overtime, and the Seahawks do score, it won't mean much.