NFL Overtime Rules Explained

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angele Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angele Rams v Cincinnati Bengals / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Bengals are not strangers to participating in overtime. During these magical two seasons, the stripes have played in five overtime games.

With that in mind, it might be time for a refresher in the overtime rules.

What are the NFL overtime rules?

If the game is tied at the end of regulation, an overtime period of 10 minutes will be played. The visiting team gets to call the coin flip and whoever wins picks whether they want the ball first or which side of the field they want to drive toward.

Unlike in college football overtime, NFL teams want to have the ball first and that's why the coin flip is so important. If a team drives down the field and scores a touchdown, the game is over. If they kick a field goal, however, the other team gets a chance to either tie with a field goal of their own or win the game with a touchdown. From then on, it's sudden death.

Recently, a change was made that both teams get a chance to touch the ball in overtime during the playoffs. This change was made because of the 2022 AFC Divisional Round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs where the Bills lost because the Chiefs won the coin toss and scored a touchdown. It is worth noting that this same thing had happened to teams in the playoffs before and it wasn't made a big deal of until this infamous moment.

The touchdown rule seemed more fair than the previous overtime rule where if a team got the ball first and scored a field goal, they won without the other team even getting a chance. Overtime also used to be a full 15 minutes as opposed to 10 minutes. This has led to more ties but it shortens the game and doesn't tire the players out as much.

Next. Ranking Every Starting QB Since 2000. dark