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NFL approves 2 rule changes; postseason OT altered

NFL-SHIELD

The most recent play Brian Daboll called was a 19-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen to Gabriel Davis in last season's Divisional Round game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. If it occurred a year later, it would not have been his last.

The NFL announced two new rule changes, plus one resolution, on Monday as the league wraps up its annual meeting in Florida. The first change, proposed by Indianapolis and Philadelphia, will allow both teams an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime – only in the postseason.

It comes in the wake of one of the most exciting games in postseason history. Allen and Patrick Mahomes put on a duel for the ages as Buffalo and Kansas City exchanged the lead three times in the final two minutes before the Chiefs' Harrison Butker kicked a 49-yard field goal to tie the game as time expired in regulation. Kansas City won the coin toss, allowing Mahomes to lead a walk-off touchdown drive. Allen and the Bills did not get a chance to respond.

Here is how the playoff overtime will work:

(a) Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once during the extra period, unless the team kicking off to start the overtime period scores a safety on the receiving team's initial possession, in which case the team that kicked off is the winner.

(b) After each team has had an opportunity to possess the ball, if one team has more points than its opponent, it is the winner.

(c) If the team that possesses the ball first does not score on its initial possession, or if the score is tied after each team has had its opportunity to possess the ball, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.

(d) If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if the second team's initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.

(e) Between each overtime period, there shall be a two-minute intermission, but there shall be no halftime intermission after the second period. At the beginning of the third overtime period, the captain who lost the coin toss prior to the first overtime period shall have the first choice of the two privileges, unless the team that won the coin toss deferred.

(f) At the end of the first and third extra periods, etc., teams must change goals.

(g) Each team is entitled to three timeouts during a half. If there is an excess timeout, the usual rules shall apply.

(h) At the end of a second overtime period, timing rules shall apply as at the end of the first half. At the end of a fourth overtime period, timing rules shall apply as at the end of the fourth period.

(i) At the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss pursuant to Section 1, Article 2, and play will continue until a winner is declared.

If the second team loses possession by an interception or fumble, the down will be permitted to run to its conclusion, and all rules of the game will be enforced as customary, including awarding points scored by either team during the down. If the second team scores a touchdown on the down after regaining possession, it is the winner. Only fouls that require the down to be replayed, fouls that negate a score, or palpably unfair acts will be enforced.

FREE KICK FORMATION

The second approved rule change, proposed by the Competition Committee, makes permanent the free kick formation change implemented during the 2021 season. It established a maximum number of players in the setup zone, and the stated effect is it "provides excitement and competition."

Until the ball is kicked, all receiving team players must be inbounds and behind their restraining line, and at least eight, but no more than nine, players must be positioned between their restraining line and a spot 15 yards behind their restraining line (the "setup zone").

APPROVED RESULOTION SUMMARY

Proposed by Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay, the approved resolution amends the Anti-Tampering Policy, in regard to Secondary Football Executive positions, to allow the employer club the choice to retain its player personnel staff through the Annual Selection Meeting. After the selection meeting through June 30, the employer club is required to grant permission for another club to interview and hire a non-high-level executive or non-secondary football executive for a secondary football executive position.

The stated effect "promotes club organizational stability and inter-club fairness, while preserving legitimate opportunities for personnel to explore other positions."

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