NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

Overtime Rules

Rule Summary View Official Rule

OVERTIME RULES FOR NFL PRESEASON AND REGULAR SEASON

The following shall apply to overtime games in the preseason and regular season.

  • 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.
  • Each team shall be entitled to two timeouts, and if there is an excess timeout, the usual rules shall apply (4-5). The general provisions for the fourth quarter of a game, including timing, shall apply.

OVERTIME RULES FOR NFL POSTSEASON GAMES

Unlike preseason and regular season games, postseason games cannot end in a tie, so the overtime rules change slightly for the playoffs.

  • 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.
  • Between each overtime period, there shall be a two-minute intermission, but there shall be no halftime intermission after the second period. At the beginning of the third overtime period, the captain who lost the coin toss prior to the first overtime period shall have the first choice of the two privileges in 4-2-2, unless the team that won the coin toss deferred.
  • At the end of the first and third extra periods, etc., teams must change goals in accordance with 4-2-3.
  • Each team is entitled to three timeouts during a half. If there is an excess timeout, the usual rules shall apply (4-5).
  • At the end of a second overtime period, timing rules shall apply as at the end of the first half. At the end of a fourth overtime period, timing rules shall apply as at the end of the fourth quarter.
  • At the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss pursuant to Section 1, Article 2, and play will continue until a winner is declared. 
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