Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen would have touched the ball in overtime had United States Football League (USFL) rules been in effect for the 2021 NFL AFC Divisional Round Classic in Kansas City.
With the first games of the revived Spring League set to begin in less than four weeks, USFL 2.0 on Wednesday revealed the rules that will be used.
Using its social media platforms, the league began its announcement by offering an intriguing overtime format that was likely inspired by the National Hockey League’s shootout tiebreaker.
If the teams are tied after regulation play, they will face off in an offensive “shootout”, in which each team will have three chances to convert from the 2-yard line against the opposing defence.
Each successful shootout scoring attempt will result in two points for the offense and the team with the most points after three rounds will be declared the winner. If the teams are tied after the three-round shootout, they will move to two-point sudden death attempts.
The USFL overtime announcement comes at a time when the NFL’s overtime format has been a hot topic of conversation in the aftermath of the 2021 playoffs and will be discussed in depth at NFL meetings next week. in Florida.
The main spark came when the Bills and Chiefs combined for three touchdowns and a field goal in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter in their divisional round game.
After Buffalo took a 36-33 lead on Gabriel Davis’ fourth touchdown reception of the game with 13 seconds left, the Chiefs improbably got into position to kick an tying field goal that split the amounts at the end of the allotted time.
The Bills’ offense, which led the AFC in points during the regular season, never had a chance to respond. Kansas City won the toss and went for 75 yards on a game-ending drive that was capped off with an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes to tight end Travis Kelce.
Under the USFL overtime format, viewers would have seen the Bills and Chiefs, who combined for 974 yards of offense in that game, each running at least three scrimmage plays apiece.
Three years earlier, the Chiefs were burned in their own building by overtime rules. The New England Patriots won the overtime coin toss and marched down the field to claim the 2018 AFC Championship game on a clear touchdown led by Rex Burkhead.
After unveiling its overtime format via Twitter, the USFL pointed out a difference with the NFL in its timing rules. In USFL games, the clock will stop when a first down is made within the last two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.
“The original USFL stopped the clock on first downs in the last two minutes of each half and since this rule is used in college play, it’s more of an adjustment and something that can be easily transferred without any problems,” said Paul. Dottino, a member of the WFAN/New York Giants radio network.
Dottino, a longtime radio personality in the New York market, was on the original USFL’s New Jersey Generals beat from 1983 to 1985.
The timing rule ‘creates more attacking plays during the last two minutes of each half’ and ‘adds attack and excitement before half-time and at the end of the game’, according to the announcement USFL official.
Excitement is a must for the viability of the USFL as a professional football product. The success of the league will mainly depend on the number of viewers its games can attract on television and streaming platforms.
“The USFL will succeed or fail based on its ability to capitalize on the expansion of legalized sports betting in America,” said Inside The League founder Neil Stratton, a published author who started his consulting firm. in football in 2002.
“The game is a form of entertainment that can increase interest in the game for casual and die-hard football fans. By implementing certain on-field rules, the USFL can add excitement to its product. and make it more appealing to bettors.The more excitement the USFL can generate, the more viewers the games will attract.
The USFL unveiled a creative list of three options for extra points. The team scoring the touchdown can choose to go for a one-point, two-point or three-point attempt.
Teams may choose to kick a one-point PAT with the ball broken from the 15-yard line. Two points can be earned by converting an offensive play from the 2-yard line. A three point option is also available, the scoring team has a chance to reach the end zone from the 10 yard line.
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“The NCAA had been using the two-point conversion for decades and it was part of the old AFL as well,” Dottino said. “It was only natural that the original USFL implemented the rule as one of the important ways to differentiate itself from the NFL when the new league started in 1983. It worked so well that after trying to distancing itself from the spring league, the NFL finally adopted the rule in 1994.
The new USFL proudly touted the idea that a team trailing by nine points can tie the game with a touchdown and a successful three-point attempt afterward.
“An 18-point lead is still a two possession game,” the USFL said in its press release.
Despite approving the two-point conversion, Dottino suggested the USFL’s three-point try might go a bit too far.
“The second edition of the XFL had a three-point conversion from the 10-yard line and I always thought offering ‘field goal value’ for an extra point was too much of a reward. It shouldn’t be treated as a potential substitute for scoring practice,” Dottino said.
Among other notable USFL rules is a double forward pass allowed. The league allows two forward passes to be thrown on the same play as long as both passes are attempted from behind the line of scrimmage.
The USFL also tweaked the kickoff with the kicking team having to start from their own 25-yard line. No player on the kicking team can line up more than a yard away and the receiving team must have at least eight players in the “preparation area”, which ranges from their own lines 35 to 45 yards .
In addition to the traditional onside kick option, a scoring team may choose to keep the ball with a fourth-and-12 situation from their own 33-yard line.
The new USFL begins the competition on April 16 with a primetime game between the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions. Three more games will follow on April 17.
A total of eight teams will face off in a 10-week regular season with no bye weeks.
DISTINCTIVE USFL RULES
- Shootout style
- Each offense will have three separate tries from the 2 meter line
- If the teams are still tied after three attempts each, sudden death ensues
DOUBLE FORWARD PASS
- Two forward passes on the same offensive snap
- Both setters must be behind the line of scrimmage
- The clock stops for the first downs in the final 2 minutes (2nd and 4th quarter)
One-point attempt: kick with broken ball from the 15-yard line
Two-point attempt: Reaching the in-game end zone from the 2-yard line
Three-Point Attempt: Reach the in-game end zone from the 10-yard line
Follow NFL Draft Bible contributor Ralph Ventre on Twitter (@RealestRalph)