Overtime Rules, In Case Super Bowl XLV Needs Them

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Green Bay Packers looked to have the game well in-hand, only to see the Pittsburgh Steelers come storming back to narrow the deficit to three points. With time winding down and a close game, overtime could come into play, making the NFL's new overtime rules relevant once again. The changes were made during the 2010 season, put into effect for the 2010-2011 NFL playoffs.

Instead of field goal ending a game in overtime, the team that gets the ball first must score a touchdown to end the game immediately. If they don't, it gets a little more complicated. After the jump, a look at the new rules.

Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.

From the NFL's official rules for playoff overtime.

In short, a touchdown on the first possession ends it. A field goal means the game keeps going, giving the other team a chance to tie it up or win it. If we're still tied -- both teams kick a field goal -- the game then goes to sudden death.

And if it goes to overtime, plenty of Americans will be might happy as everyone who signed up with Papa John's before the game gets a free pizza. A good game and free pizza? It's a win-win!

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