With the NFL going to fifteen-minute quarters, sometimes a game needs more than that time to play out. The extra time during a football game is overtime. So how does the NFL overtime work, what are the rules, and what famous games took place during overtime in history? Find out more below!
How does NFL Overtime Work?
If two teams are tied after four quarters of a football game, the game goes into overtime to find the winner. Overtime has different rules if it’s a normal game or a playoff game.
[Origin]: A game between two teams is a game where one team tries to score more points than the other. Points are scored by having the ball advance across the field and kicking the ball into the opponent’s goal.
What are the NFL’s Overtime Rules?
Regular Season Overtime Rules
When the coin toss happens, it goes to the first team drawn from the pool. The game is over when either
team scores or when the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. The team that scores wins. If it is tied, the
game goes to overtime. In overtime, the teams start with a 10-minute period. The game will end based on sudden-death rules, which means that the first team to score wins.
If a team is trailing by two touchdowns and is given a free kick, the team has five seconds to attempt a field goal. If they do not reach the end zone they are given a free kick to try again. If the team successfully reaches the end zone, the game is over, but the team that was up by two touchdowns still receives the extra point.
If the winning team has the ball and is within field goal range, the referee can call a time-out to go to commercial in any situation. However, it is generally understood that the game will end in a tie if no team has the ball and no team reaches the end zone.
Overtime Rules in the NFL Playoffs
In the NHL regular season, ties were broken by having a shootout. In the playoffs, the NHL has decided that ties are to be broken by having multiple overtimes of five minutes each. There is a two-minute intermission between each overtime.
How Can a Team Win in Overtime?
Since the Super Bowl started the same time as the NFL regular season, in the NFL regular season, there are a handful of games that go to the first period of overtime. These games are the ones that are played first in the league’s championship weekend. Two of these games that are played early in the weekend are the Super Bowl and the Pro Bowl. The third game, and arguably the game with the most significance, is the annual NFC Championship Game between the two teams who face the lowest combined regular season points total. If there is a tie in points, the game would end in a tie game.
It’s a ruleset that is significantly different from the college football overtime format, and it’s one which allows a team to continue to gain more points through the course of a single overtime drive.
Famous Overtime Games in the NFL
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the NFL went from having a game to go in the first quarter to having a game to go in the fourth quarter. It was the culmination of a rule change that took effect in 1976 that allowed teams to have a fourth down conversion at the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter, rather than waiting until the two-minute warning expired. Teams would have two such instances: one where a team punts, and the other where a team would tie the game or take the lead.
The first Super Bowl after the NFL went through a week of protests by players and owners during the National Anthem was the Super Bowl LII. The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles were neck and neck in the late game. The Patriots scored a touchdown on their first possession of overtime to clinch the victory.
Conclusion on How Does an NFL Overtime Work
If two teams tie in the regular season, the next regular season game will be played with a modified overtime procedure in which the two teams will be split into two groups of five players each, and will be pitted against each other in a round-robin basis. Thus, a team that has a tie in the regular season can still compete for another game.