Should both teams recover the ball in extra time?

There are two proposals to change the NFL’s overtime rules.

>> The Colts and Philadelphia Eagles have offered to allow both teams to own the ball in overtime. The current rule ends the game if a team scores a touchdown in the first overtime.

>>Tennessee suggested allowing both teams to possess the ball in overtime UNLESS the team with first possession scores a touchdown and a successful two-run attempt.

Let’s check the math on these.


If you read this story, you know the rule. In the current setup there is a corner flip, the team that wins the flip takes the ball. If he scores a touchdown, he wins. If not, the other team gets the ball (unless there is a defensive touchdown).

It became a much-discussed topic after Kansas City won the toss against Buffalo in the playoffs and scored to end a classic game with the Bills having a chance to respond.

Since 2016, the team that gets the ball first in regular season overtime has gone 40-35-7, a .530 winning percentage.

So winning the coin toss, all things being equal, gives you a 6% higher chance of winning. I would say both teams deserve the ball. It’s not a major rule change and 6% isn’t a huge number, it’s not nothing.

“I think there’s a place for both teams to have possession, but I understand both sides of the argument,” Colts coach Frank Reich told the Combine earlier this month. “I understand, ‘You have 60 minutes to win the game, go win the game’ or ‘Play defense.’ … I think the most mature thing to do is if you have an idea, a proposition that you have convinced, you present it and you trust everyone to talk about it.

Continued:Insider: How Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson became keys in the Colts’ QB search

Continued:Frank Reich thinks both NFL teams should get possession in overtime


Tennessee wants to give the ball to both teams UNLESS the team that scores first gets a two-point conversion.

Teams convert about 48% of their two-point attempts.

Between 2001 and 2021, teams scored on 18.7% of their drives after receiving a kick-off, according to

Thus, by opting for 2, a team will win 48% of the time. The other team, however, is going to score a touchdown on 18.7% of their throws – that would be higher as neither team will be going for a field goal in this situation, but we’ll stick to the overall percentage to keep things going. simple – and with almost certain PATs, they will lose 9.7% of their games in overtime, so a 90.3% probability of winning.

If we assume a team converts their PAT, they will win 81.3% of the time and tie the remaining 18.7% of the time. Let’s start with 4.5% of overtime games ending in a tie. If we assume that the team that scored first wins 53% of the time, they will lose 6.7% of the time in total, in addition to having equalized 4.5%.

The first scenario gives us a winning percentage of .903. The second, .911. I’d have to dig deeper to be sure, but unless you had a two-point game that you were really confident in, I don’t think that rule would be much in play.

Contact IndyStar Assistant Sports Editor Nat Newell at (317) 444-6182 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @NatJNewell.

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