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Super Bowl XLV: New NFL Postseason Overtime Rules

The Pittsburgh Steelers have cut the Green Bay Packers lead to 28-25 with seven minutes left in the game. While the Packers can regain the momentum with a score, we also are on the verge of a chance at the first overtime Super Bowl ever. More importantly, the NFL implemented new rules for playoff overtime this past offseason.

The current overtime rules for the playoffs mean that a field goal on the opening drive of overtime will not end the game as it has in the past. The NFL explained the rules as follows:

Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.

So basically, if the first team in OT kicks a field goal, the second team gets a shot with the ball. If they then kick a field goal, it THEN turns into sudden death overtime. If the first team scores a touchdown on the first drive the game is over. If the first team gets no points and the second team then kicks a field goal, the game is over. It’s not all that complicated, but definitely worth knowing in the event this thing heads to OT.