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Overtime Rules To Remain


A record 25 NFL games went into overtime last season, but that wasn't reason enough to alter the sudden death system that has been intact since 1974.

Wednesday, in the final day of the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., a proposal that would have guaranteed one offensive possession to each team in overtime came up seven votes short of passing. Thus, the current sudden death system -- with a coin toss determining first possession -- will remain in place for at least the 2003 season.

"There was a lot of discussion on both sides of the issue, but in the end there was a strong sentiment among clubs that the current system has a lot of interest for fans," said John Jones, Packers executive vice president and chief operating officer.

"Stats showed that the coin toss does have some effect on the outcome of a game, but a number of clubs made the point that the defense can score if it forces the offense to make a mistake."

More importantly, Jones said, keeping the current overtime system encourages teams to win the game in regulation.

If each team were guaranteed an offensive possession in overtime, there would be less urgency to try to break the tie at the end of regulation.

Not only would the fourth quarter lose some of its competitiveness, but more games would probably go into overtime as a result.

"This way teams play to win it in the fourth quarter," Jones said.

Also, while it is true that 15 of the 25 teams that won the overtime coin toss went on to win the game last season, that number is slightly misleading as only 10 of those 15 teams received the ball first.

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