The NFL is about to embark on its first postseason with the brand new additional time rules, and coaches who win the toss will now likely weigh whether to take the weird step of kicking off to the opponent in additional time.
The league modified its additional time rules this past offseason largely as a consequence of the ending of the Bills-Chiefs divisional round game. The Chiefs won 42-36 after winning the coin toss in additional time and scoring first, meaning Josh Allen and the Bills offense never touched the ball within the additional time period.
For the playoffs only, each teams should have the chance to own the ball. Gone are the times of winning the toss, scoring a touchdown and ending the sport.
And that ought to change a coach’s approach to strategy. Being guaranteed an offensive possession in additional time should lead coaches to have their captain defer should he win the additional time coin toss.
Kicking off to the opponent would allow the toss-winning team the chance to know exactly what it must win or extend the sport. It will also give the team the chance to finish the sport with a defensive rating. And it could very likely give the team higher starting field position via a defensive stop and ensuing punt over the kickoff
Winning the toss and electing to kick is what’s almost at all times done in college football. But even then, you are guaranteed to begin your offensive possession on the 25-yard line. Winning and kicking in NFL additional time would (very likely) give the toss-winning team the advantage of improved starting field position over the opponent.
Since 2010, there have been 12 additional time playoff games. Teams who won the coin toss are 10-2 in those games, though only seven of the 12 who won the coin toss won on their first possession without the opposite team possessing the ball.
The league used those numbers — 10-2 and 7 out of 12 — to justify the changes to the additional time rules. In point of fact, it was the breathtaking Bills-Chiefs game that forced the change.
The Chiefs won the additional time coin toss within the AFC title game against the Bengals and still lost the sport. Within the controversial NFC Championship Game between the Saints and Rams following the 2018 regular season, the Saints won the additional time coin toss and still lost the sport.
Of the 12 additional time games since 2010, not once has a team won the additional time coin toss and elected to kick to its opponent. And in response to TruMedia, since 2017 just one team has chosen that route within the regular season.
In 2019, Mike Tomlin opted for this within the Steelers‘ Week 5 match against the Ravens. Mason Rudolph, who was thrust into the starting role early within the season with an injury to Ben Roethlisberger, suffered a concussion midway through the third quarter and was replaced by Devlin Hodges. The Steelers mustered just six more points for the rest of regulation.
With strong winds in Pittsburgh and a struggling offense, Tomlin decided to kick to the Ravens and make them play into the wind after winning the OT coin toss. That meant a defensive stop would likely give the Steelers the ball back with higher field position and the wind at their backs. Ultimately the Steelers fumbled near midfield after getting the stop and the Ravens made the game-winning 46-yard field goal to win.
The brand new playoff additional time rules include 15-minute periods as a substitute of the 10-minute additional time period within the regular season. If the team that got the ball first doesn’t rating a touchdown, or if the rating is tied after each team has possessed the ball, the subsequent rating would win. (If the team that possesses the ball first commits a security on the initial possession, the kickoff team would win.)
Each team could have three timeouts per “half.” Though there aren’t technically halves like in regulation, two additional time periods can be considered a half for all intents and purposes. That also means a two-minute warning would happen toward the tip of the second additional time, though it’s highly unlikely a winner would not be decided by then. There would even be no coaches’ challenges allowed in additional time.
There have been 4 additional time games for the reason that 2019 season, so the league is averaging a couple of a season. Considering the league just witnessed essentially the most games decided by six or fewer points in addition to essentially the most games inside one rating within the fourth quarter, it’s greater than possible these additional time rules come into play this postseason.