NFL Overtime Rules: Latest Rumors on Ravens' 'Spot and Choose'; 'Sudden Death'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

Baltimore Ravens players huddle prior to an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens are reportedly set to propose a "spot and choose" overtime concept, which would allow the team that wins the coin toss the choice of where to place the ball to start OT and then the opponent would have to decide whether to play offense or defense.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Thursday the Ravens' plan features two timing ideas: a 10-minute sudden-death option or a seven-minute, 30-second extension of the game that would be played in full before a winner (or a tie) is declared.

The return of sudden-death overtime was already on the table separately from Baltimore's potential overtime overhaul, per Nick Shook of NFL.com.

Current overtime rules call for a standard coin toss, with the winner getting to decide whether they want to receive or kick and the other team choosing which end zone to defend.

The team that receives the kick can end the game with a touchdown. If it kicks a field goal, the opponent gets a chance to either tie the game or win it with a touchdown. If the first team doesn't score, then the game moves into sudden death for the remainder of the 10-minute period.

It's a convoluted system that was developed because teams were unhappy the coin toss played such a prominent role in deciding overtime games since whichever side received the first kickoff could drive about 45 yards, kick a field goal and win without the other team getting a chance.

The Ravens' "spot and choose" plan would create a strategy-based decision that would likely be heavily influenced by the proficiency of the opponent's offense.

Most teams will want the ball to start overtime, especially if it's under sudden-death rules, so the question for the team that wins the toss will be how far deep they can push that opponent in their own end without putting themselves in a terrible position.

For example, if a team facing the Kansas City Chiefs wins the toss, is there a yard line where K.C. would actually consider playing defense first or are they going to put the ball in Patrick Mahomes' hands regardless? The answer is probably the latter, even if the team chooses the 5-yard line.

So it's a little chess match that would provide far more intrigue than the current set up. The belief is the 13-yard line will be the standard break point for an average game, with anything at the 12 or closer leading the second team to opt for defense first, per Florio.

Baltimore's idea, or something else with a few wrinkles, will likely be needed if the NFL wants a return to sudden death because teams won't want their overtime fate in the hands of a coin toss again.

Proposals need support from two-thirds of teams (24 of 32) in order to receive approval.