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With 2011 playoffs, overtime rules change

Adam Vinatieri

Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks the game-winning 43-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans at the end of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011. The Colts won 23-20. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


The first non-sudden death overtime in NFL history could be coming this weekend.

The league’s new postseason overtime rules are now in effect, meaning a field goal on the first possession of overtime doesn’t end the game. Instead, if the team receiving the overtime kickoff kicks a field goal on the first drive, the other team would have a chance to either tie the game with a field goal (at which point it would be sudden death from there) or win the game with a touchdown. A touchdown or safety at any point in overtime would win the game.

So will the new rule make teams more or less likely to play for overtime? And could it make teams decide to kick, rather than receive, at the start of overtime?

We won’t really know until we see playoff overtime, but Saints coach Sean Payton said today that it could make him handle late-game strategy differently.

“I think you’ll pay attention to how the game is progressing,” Payton said. “How the first four quarters have gone would predicate your decision on how you would handle it.”

So we’ll have to wait and see whether it makes a difference if one of the 11 postseason games ends with the new and (the league hopes) improved overtime.