During the offseason leading up to the 2022 season, NFL owners approved a change to overtime provisions to essentially give both teams guaranteed possession in almost all cases.
The regular season rule remains the same, which is that overtime is only extended if the first possession of the game ends in a field goal. But the playoffs will also continue beyond a touchdown and have the option of a second overtime if necessary. Any change in possession will return the game to standard sudden death overtime. If the change of possession is on this second possession with the following team, it is the last play of the match, unless the following team ties the score on this play.
Each overtime period in the playoffs is 15 minutes and both teams have 3 timeouts. After 2 overtime periods, it’s a new “half-time” (with a kick-off) and a new series of 3 timeouts.
The overtime scenarios that the rules present are interesting in many ways.
If a touchdown is scored on the first possession, the team that was defending also has a chance to tie the game. But, if a one-point conversion was scored on the first touchdown of overtime, the second team can opt for a two-point conversion and automatic victory. The team that touches the ball second has the advantage of knowing in advance the goalscoring plays it can attempt at the end of the drive.
Unlike regular season overtime, postseason overtime can continue into a 2nd overtime if the second possession provided for in the rules has not ended (or has not yet started).
These unusual situations relate to overtime in the regular season and in the playoffs.
If the overtime period begins with a successful onside kick, the receiving team is deemed to have had an opportunity to possess the ball and will not be awarded retaliatory possession after a score.
If a safety is marked, it always ends the game. If the defense scores safety on the first possession, they have locked in a win. If there is an unusual situation where a trailing team scores a safety on offense (requires change of possession on play), the safety will not provide enough points to win the game.
If there is a double change of possession on the following team’s possession, they must at least tie the game on this game. Since this is not a continuation of that team’s possession, the game ends on that play. Anything other than a score on this double change of possession ends the game.