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What are the overtime rules in the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl?

In the NFL playoffs, a game simply cannot end in a tie. Find out how overtime works in the regular season vs in the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.

In the NFL playoffs, a game simply cannot end in a tie. Find out how overtime works in the regular season vs in the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.

NFL playoff overtime rules are somewhat similar to those in the regular season. A three-minute intermission after the end of regulation leads to a mid-field coin toss just like the one at the start of the game, with the winning team deciding to receive or kick the ball, opting to defend a certain goal post or defer.

In the regular season, both teams get two timeouts in a 10-minute period.

In the playoffs, overtime periods are 15 minutes and replay reviews are initiated by the officiating crew.

But because playoff games cannot end in a tie, for obvious reasons, the rules slightly change. Let’s take a look at how overtime works in the NFL playoffs.

How does Overtime work in the playoffs and Super Bowl?

  • As mentioned above, at the end of regulation, a coin toss determines which team will possess the ball first in overtime. Both teams have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the first team with the ball scores a TD on the opening possession.
  • The teams will play in another overtime period if the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period, or if the second team’s first possession has not ended. Regardless of how many overtime periods are happening, play has to continue until a winner is determined.
  • There will be a two-minute intermission between each overtime period, and there will not be a halftime intermission after the second period.
  • Whoever loses the first overtime coin toss will choose one of two things: to possess the ball, or to select which goal his team will defend- unless the team that won the coin toss deferred that choice.
  • Each team gets three timeouts during a half.
  • And lastly, the same timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period.
  • If after four overtime periods there is still no winner, another coin toss will happen and play will continue until there’s a winner.

NFL overtime rules in spotlight after Bills vs. Chiefs

The playoffs overtime rules were back in full force after the Bills vs Chiefs game in the Divisional Round. The incredible game resulted in much controversy around the league, especially with its dramatic ending; Mahomes and Kansas City scored a touchdown on the opening possession, and Allen and the Bills didn’t have a chance to respond. The game ended with a 42-36 win for the Chiefs, who are now facing the Bengals in the AFC Championship game. 

Check all live updates on the Chiefs- Bengals here, and who's winning the NFL AFC Championship Game


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