The Atlanta Falcons voted yes to approve the new overtime rule for the playoffs at the league meetings in Orlando on Tuesday.
The rule, a form of modified sudden death, passed 28-4, with only Baltimore, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Buffalo voting against the rule.
The NFL competition committee, of which Falcons president Rich McKay is co-chair, proposed changes to the overtime rules for the postseason.
Under the plan, a team could win on the first possession of overtime by scoring a touchdown, but if the team scores a field goal, the opposing team would receive the ball with a chance to tie with a field goal or win with a touchdown.
If the second team ties with a field goal, the game would revert to the first-to-score sudden death rule.
“The time has maybe come to innovate when it comes to overtime,” said McKay last week when talking about the rule. “There is a reason statistically to do so.”
Sudden-death overtime was introduced in 1974, and the committee contends that the system worked from then through 1993. During that time, the team that won the coin toss won 46.8 percent of the games and the team that lost the toss won 46.8 percent of the time, McKay said. The remainder of the games ended in ties.
From 1994 — when kickoffs were pushed back to the 30-yard line — through 2009, the team that won the toss won the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that lost the coin toss lost the game 38.5 percent of the time. All other games ended in a tie.
The committee attributes that in part to the improved accuracy of field-goal kickers.
In last season’s NFC championship game, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Minnesota Vikings in overtime without the Vikings’ offense having a possession. The Vikings dominated the game, but untimely turnovers led to the Saints’ victory.
The Falcons made their only trip to the Super Bowl – Super Bowl XXXIII — after defeating the Minnesota Vikings 30-27 in overtime on Jan. 17, 1999.