A look at new overtime rules for playoffs

In case you'd forgotten, NFL owners several months ago instituted new overtime rules that eliminate the possibility of the game ending on an opening-drive field goal in the playoffs.

Good. Because that's dull.

But we haven't seen these new rules yet because they weren't adopted for the regular season. That means this weekend's wild-card playoff games will be the first time we could see multiple-possession overtimes.

At least one overtime game has transpired in nine of the past 10 postseasons. There were two last year.

Here's a primer of the new OT rules (NFC West blogger Mike Sando posted the actual passages from Rule 16, Article 4 of the NFL Rule Book):

  • The game does not end if the team that receives the opening kickoff makes a field goal on its initial possession. But the game is over if the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

  • Each team must have the opportunity to possess the ball -- unless a touchdown is scored on the opening drive. Note that an "opportunity to possess" would include instances of onside kicks and fumbled kickoffs or punts.

  • If the team that kicks off first ties the game with a field goal on its next possession, then the game becomes a true sudden-death affair. The next team to score will win.

  • A defensive touchdown on the first possession would end the game automatically.

  • There will be no coaching challenges. All video reviews will be initiated by the replay assistant.

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan foreshadowed his strategy for the revamped overtime process. There could be strategic advantages to winning the coin flip and playing defense first.

"Obviously, it's an advantage if a team kicks a field goal on you," Ryan said. "If you have a chance to come back, then you're basically playing four-down football until you can kick a field goal or score a touchdown. I think that's the advantage for the team that gets the ball second or if that team scores initially."

Page 2 columnist David Fleming conjured 19 entertaining OT scenarios to help us comprehend the possibilities.