NFL owners vote next week in New York whether to allow each team a possession in overtime in the playoffs if the team winning the OT coin toss kicks a field goal on the first series.
Previously, the game would end whenever either side scores, as happened in the NFC championship game in January, with New Orleans beating Minnesota on Garrett Hartley’s kick. But NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay says a trend has developed showing too strong an advantage for teams winning the coin toss to start overtime.
If the team that falls behind by three points on the first series also kicks a field goal, then the game would continue under current sudden death rules.
The proposal is only for the postseason.
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“Statistically, it is pretty clear there has been a change,” McKay said. “When sudden death was put in for 1974, it clearly worked very well and was a good system. It brought excitement and effectively broke ties. From ’74-’93 you had a 50-50 (breakdown) in who would win between those who won the toss and who lost.
“Changes occurred over time, and the numbers have changed to 59.8 percent winning the coin toss and winning the game. The team that loses the coin toss wins 38.5 percent.
“We are trying to put in a system that emphasizes more skill and strategy as opposed to the randomness of the coin flip.”
McKay credited the advancements in field goal accuracy and skills of return teams for the hefty switch in statistics. The competition committee found that since 1994, when the kickoff was moved back 5 yards to the 30, teams winning the OT coin toss won 34.4 percent of the games on the first series. They kicked field goals 26.2 percent of those times, an increase from 17.9 percent in 15 years.