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Ravens proposing ‘spot and choose’ rule that could drastically change NFL overtime

Under a rule change that has been proposed by the Ravens, teams playing in overtime would not only have the option of deciding whether to start on offense or defense but where to spot the ball on the opening drive.

According to a copy of the proposals obtained by The Baltimore Sun, the rule change would replace the overtime kickoff with a “spot and choose” concept.” The team that wins the coin toss would have two options: choose whether to start the period on offense or defense, or choose where to spot the ball to start the period — and the end zone to be defended.

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For example, if the Ravens are playing in overtime, win the coin toss and elect to spot the ball at, say, their own 20-yard line, the opposing team would choose whether to start on offense or defense from that spot on the field. If the Ravens win the coin toss and elect to choose who gets the ball first, the opposing team would first spot the ball — and the end zone to be defended — and then the Ravens would decide whether to start on offense or defense, hence the “spot and choose” characterization.

The proposal is intended to address concerns about the importance of winning the coin toss and place more focus on strategy; under current rules, if the team that receives the ball first scores a touchdown on the opening drive, the game is over.

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Overtime would be a 10-minute, sudden-death period; the first team to score would win the game. If the score is still tied after the end of the period, the result would be a tie. Under another proposal by the Ravens, the “spot and choose” concept would be used but overtime would continue for another seven minutes and 30 seconds, and whichever team leads at the end of the extra time would be the winner.

The Ravens played in one overtime game in the 2020 season, a 30-24 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 11. The Ravens got the ball first but went three-and-out. Tennessee scored the game-winning touchdown on the ensuing possession.

And the Ravens are once again proposing the addition of a “booth umpire,” an eighth official who is positioned off the playing field with a view of the field from the press box. This official would have access to broadcast angles and have the ability to communicate with on-field referees in real-time to correct officiating errors. The Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers submitted a similar proposal last year.

The proposals will be received at the annual league owners meeting, which will take place virtually on March 30-31. Twenty-four owners must approve a rule change for it to take effect.

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Pro Football Talk first reported that the Ravens were proposing the “spot and choose” change.

This story has been updated.

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