NFL owners expand postseason overtime rule

Regular season will use same guideline

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Even though the NFL’s new rule for postseason overtime has never come into play, it’s being expanded for the regular season, too.

NFL owners passed the playoff overtime rule for the regular schedule Wednesday. All games that go into overtime now cannot end on a field goal on the first possession.

The opposing team must get one series, and if it also kicks a field goal, the extra period continues. Of course, if it fails to score it loses, and if it gets a touchdown, it wins.

The rule has not been a factor since it was instituted in 2010, with only two playoff games going to OT. One ended on the first play, Tim Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas for a Denver victory over Pittsburgh. The other had several possessions for each team before the Giants beat the 49ers in the NFC title game this season.

The vote on adopting the new overtime rule was 30-2.

Owners also have given the replay official permission to review turnovers just as he reviews all scoring plays.

Other rules changes: a team will lose a down for illegally kicking a loose ball; too many men on the field becomes a dead ball foul; and a player receiving a crackback block is now considered a defenseless player and the hit will result in a 15-yard penalty.

Not passed were proposals to have the booth official handle video reviews rather than the referee, and outlawing the horse-collar tackle made on quarterbacks in the pocket.

Given the NFL’s concern with player safety, the failure to extend the horse-collar rule seemed surprising. But competition committee chairman Rich McKay said the ownership “didn’t think this can impact on player safety.”

“The rule was developed for the open field tackle when a defender has the chance to do something else (in making the tackle),” he said. “He’s also able to use the runner’s momentum against him. We didn’t think that applied to the pocket, didn’t see the injury risk.”

Several bylaw changes were tabled until the league meetings in May, including expanding preseason rosters to 90, designating one player suffering a major injury before Week 2 of the season as eligible to return from injured reserve, and moving the trading deadline back two weeks to after Week 8.

McKay expects them to pass at the next meetings in Atlanta.

“There were good ideas and suggestions, no resistance,” he said. “We’ll work on the language.”

Also, the 18-game schedule has not been discussed and the NFL wants to go through a full cycle of the offseason schedule that came with the new collective bargaining agreement before reviewing the subject.

No consensus has been reached in the medical community on the value of having an independent neurologist on the sidelines during games. Discussions likely will continue.

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