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NFL Overtime Rules

The Coin Flip

Overtime begins with a coin flip to determine which team will possess the ball first. The visiting team gets to call the flip and the team that wins the flip will decide whether they want to receive the ball or kick-off. The team losing the toss will decide which goal they want to defend. The team winning the toss should always elect to receive the ball, the reason for this is explained below. This differs from College Football Overtime, where it is a huge advantage to be on the defensive end first.

Possessing the Ball

Both teams will have an opportunity to possess the ball at least one time. The exceptions to this rule is if the first team possessing the ball scores a touchdown, they are declared the winner or if the team kicking off scores a safety they are declared the winner.

Winning in Overtime

If the first team possessing the ball scores a field goal, the opposing team will have the opportunity to tie the game with a field goal or win the game with a touchdown. If they do not score the game is over. If they tie the game with a field goal, the next team to score wins.

Length of Overtime

The overtime period is 15 minutes long. If at the end of 15 minutes the game is still tied, no winner will be declared and the game will end in a tie. The exception to this rule is during the Post Season, where subsequent 15 minute periods will take place until one team is declared the winner.

Timeouts and Play Reviews

Each team is awarded two timeouts at the beginning of the overtime period. Coaches are not able to initiate a replay, this is only allowed by the Replay Official.

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