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Modified sudden death rules for OT



It is no secret that we are very much opposed to the NFL’s modified sudden death format. (Rather than repeat, see our rant from the 2010 season and our other posts.)

Here are the overtime rules for all preseason, regular season, and postseason games:

  • Modified sudden death only applies when the team receiving the opening kickoff scores a field goal on the opening drive. In all other cases, standard sudden death will apply (a touchdown, a safety, or a field goal after first possession).
  • If there is any change of possession (punt, turnover, loss on downs) or the receiving team does not recover the kickoff, they have surrendered the first possession, and standard sudden death applies.
  • If a field goal is scored, the trailing team will receive the ensuing kickoff. Then, if the trailing team…
    • …scores a touchdown, the game ends, and the touchdown decides the result.
    • …loses possession, including on downs, the game ends immediately.
    • …scores a tying field goal, the overtime reverts to a standard sudden death.

Remember that once the second team has possession with the score tied, it is standard sudden death from that point forward.

Updated, 8/28/12: Revised to reflect the rule change that modified sudden death format is now in effect for the preseason and regular season.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)