Time runs out in overtime before team gets ball

The longest sustained drive in NFL history was almost 13 minutes. So what happens if one team one team gets the ball and holds it the entire 10 minute overtime and
a) kicks a field goal as time runs out
b) time runs out before either team scores.

I’ve not seen the official rules, but the wording I’ve seen is a team can only win on its first possession with a touchdown. and also that if the first team doesn’t score a TD, the second team gets a chance. I’m pretty sure that the time limit takes precedence, but would like to know for sure, if anyone has access to official rules.

Rule 16.1.4.a, for regular-season ties: “There shall be a maximum of one 10-minute period, even if the second team has not had an opportunity to possess the ball or if its initial possession has not ended. If the score is tied at the end of the period, the game shall result in a tie.” So you’re right that the time limit takes precedence.

However, this doesn’t apply in the playoffs. Rule 16.1.5.a: “If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.”

In regular season, that’s it. The first team wins and the second team never gets a chance. Or, if overtime ends before either team scores, the game ends in a tie.
In postseason, the second team gets a guaranteed chance, I believe, if the first team only got an FG.
Edit: Ninja’d

Suppose team A gets the ball first and scores a FG. Then on the ensuing kickoff, they recover an onside kick. Does the game end then? Does being the team to receive a kickoff count as an opportunity if they fail to secure the kickoff?

For that matter, if team A kicked off to start OT and recovered an onside kick, could they win with a FG?

If you recover an onside kick, then the opponent never gained possession of the ball. So I imagine that if you failed to score again after recovering the ball then the other team would have a chance at a possession. If you did score again (another FG or a TD) before turning over the ball I expect you’d win at that point. I’m not sure how the NFL would handle two FGs before the other team gets the ball but I’m guessing they’d end the game.

It’s almost a moot point because it’d be insane to attempt it. Onside kicks are very rarely recovered so you’re almost gifting a short field to your opponent who can win on a TD. It would indicate having absolutely no faith in your defense.

Plus, if you were that desperate to keep the ball away from the offense, you wouldn’t have kicked a FG in the first place; you’d have done everything to try to get a TD including an attempt on 4th and long (which would be more likely to succeed than an onside kick). I can’t see any situation where this would ever make sense.

No, again the point of an onside kick is that you prevent the other team from possessing the ball. If you did an onside kick as your starting kickoff (which is legal; insanely risky, but legal) it would be no different than if you’d received the kickoff. After all, an onside kick is like a kickoff to yourself.

The game would end immediately, with Team A winning. The logic is as you suppose: the kickoff was Team B’s opportunity (which is all that’s required - actual possession need not occur). From the NFL rules Rule 16, Section1, Article 3e:

brad_d is correct. What gets even wonkier is when there is a turnover.
Say Team A scores a FG on their first possession. Team B not gets the ball and is driving down the field. But then Team B throws and interception. Luckily for them, the Team A player is an idiot and decides the try and run the ball back instead of just going down, and fumbles the ball. Team B recovers. But if the Team B player goes down, this is considered a brand new possession and the game is over, Team A wins.

They did add a change to the rule this year, that if in that same play Team B ends up scoring a touchdown, Team B would win. Previously it wouldn’t count. It’s a pretty rare scenario that would only happen by one team being idiots and one team fully knowing the rules, but maybe one day we’ll see it.

Overtime rules are weird.

For example, a field goal won’t automatically win you the game (at least not if it happens on the first drive of overtime) but a safety will, even though it’s fewer points.

Of course, field goals are common and generally not easy to do, while safeties are rare, so it makes sense why the rules are like that. It just seems counterintuitive to me for a play earning fewer points to be better than one with more points. :slight_smile:

This is something I’ve never considered. And, yes, it’s definitely weird.

I’ve never liked the NFL’s overtime rules, although it’s better now than when the first score ended the game. I think that each team should be guaranteed a possession. If one team leads after each possession has been completed, the game ends. If the score is tied after each possession has been completed, play the game until one team scores. No more ties.

It’s weird, but it makes sense because unlike Field Goals and Touchdowns, the team that scores the safety gets possession next. So they could just kneel down 4 times and the game is over, since each team has had a possession in OT.

Sure, the team giving up the safety already had their possession by definition, whereas the team giving up the FG may not have had it.

I’m kinda surprised the NFL hasn’t scrapped the Sudden Death TD rule. What’s more interesting at the end of the game, having to get a FG or a TD to stay alive? I also think we would see more teams go for 2 after a touchdown in OT if it wasn’t sudden death any more.

I think the idea was this… They don’t want OT to last too long (and they also shortened it to 10 minutes from 15) but a sudden death FG on first possession would make it so you’d always go for a FG and not bother with a TD and they wanted a bit more drama than that. So they left in the sudden death TD but not sudden death FG as a compromise.

We literally JUST had this question asked like a month ago.

No… it was almost two years ago.


That’s a bit more than a month ago.

EDIT: And I made almost the exact damn comment about safeties. WTF. I do not remember that at all. I swear this is some weird time travel/alternate universe stuff. :confused:

It was asked in one of the weekly NFL threads this season.