Fisher, Goodell support playoff OT rule change

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 12:32am
Staff Reports

The NFL competition committee recommended Monday to the league’s 32 owners a change to the overtime formula for playoffs games — a rule change supported by Titans coach Jeff Fisher, a committee co-chair.

Under the rule change — now subject to a vote of the owners — a team losing the overtime coin toss, then surrendering a field goal to the coin-toss winner on its first possession, should then have a series of its own.

Fisher has not only said he is in favor of the changes to playoff OT rules, he's apparently one of the minds behind the proposal that the owners are slated to vote on at this week’s Annual Meeting.

He reiterated that the change is only for postseason games.

“What we don’t want to have happen in the playoffs is a kickoff return, and then a penalty and a field goal, and have the game be over,” Fisher told Mike Keith in an online interview for Titans All Access on the team’s website. “What we’re proposing has sudden-death qualities throughout it, even at the beginning. [The] bottom line is that each team will have an opportunity to possess — doesn’t guarantee a possession.”

The competition committee’s recommendation does not apply if the team that wins the coin toss scores a touchdown — if so, it is the victor. If it fails to score at all, current overtime rules apply for the remainder of the contest.

If it successfully kicks a field, the new rules take effect — the other team gets a possession. If the other team scores a touchdown, it wins; if it fails to score, it loses. If the team, like its opponent, kicks a tying field goal, then current overtime rules take over.

The change will need 24 votes for ratification.

“This stays true to the integrity of the game,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. “The competition committee has come up with something very much worth considering. It keeps the tradition of sudden death, and I think it is responsive to some of the issues that have been brought up.”

Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994 [when kickoffs were moved back to the 30-yard line], teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that lost the toss won 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.