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NFL playoff overtime rules: Ravens take Denver to an extra frame

The Ravens scored a last-minute touchdown to send a Divisional round game with the Denver Broncos to overtime. The NFL's playoff overtime rules have changed a bit over the past few years - so here's a quick primer on them

Jeff Gross

Jacoby Jones caught a 70-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of regulation to tie the game between the Broncos and the Ravens at 3-5-35. Even if you don't remember how the NFL's playoff rules work, you probably at least remember the most famous overtime play in the playoffs recently - Tim Tebow delivering an 80-yard touchdown pass to beat the Steelers last season.

But even that might have been a little confusing - just why did the Broncos get the walk-off win in that case?

To quote the NFL rulebook: The NFL playoff overtime rules are modified sudden death rules where each team gets a chance to possess the ball unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

There's one 15-minute period with three timeouts (and no challenges allowed), and obviously the game will continue to another 15-minute period if the game is still tied after the first overtime.


So if the team that wins the toss scores a touchdown on its first drive, the game is over.

But if that team kicks a field goal on its first drive, the other team can then score a touchdown to end the game in their favor or kick a field goal and keep the game going. If both teams kick field goals, then it's true sudden death from there. First team to score wins.

If the first team fails to score, all the second team has to do to win the game is score.

If you're still confused about just how this works, you can consult the NFL's official rulebook here.

And while the NFL playoffs won't see any Tebow Time this year, you can bet they're still going to be exciting.