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ORLANDO, Fla.-- The NFL changed its overtime rules for playoff games.

Starting next season, if a team wins the coin toss and thenkicks a field goal, the other team gets the ball. If the gamebecomes tied again after that next series, play will continue underthe current sudden-death rules. If the team winning the tossimmediately scores a touchdown, the game is over.

Team owners voted 28-4 on Tuesday in favor of the proposal at the NFL meetings. Minnesota, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimoreopposed the change.

Minnesota lost last season's NFL championship game in overtimeto New Orleans. The Saints won the toss, drove downfield and kickeda field goal to win.

'Modified sudden death is an opportunity to make a pretty goodrule ... even better,' said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay,co-chairman of the competition committee. 'Statistically, itneeded to change. It wasn't producing the 'fairest result.''

Those statistics showed that since 1994, the team that won theovertime coin toss won the game 34 percent of the time on the firstpossession.

Overall, the team that correctly called the coin toss wonovertime games 60 percent of the time in the last 15 years, orsince kickoffs were moved back 5 yards to the 30.

'Plenty of people on the committee, myself included, areso-called traditionalists,' Indianapolis Colts president BillPolian said. 'I am proud to be one. But once you saw thestatistics, it became obvious we had to do something.'

The new rule applies only for postseason games. But McKay saideven that could change, and several owners expressed interest infurther discussions at their May meetings in Dallas.

'There was a lot of sentiment in the room to change this rulefor the regular season,' McKay said, adding he doesn't expect thatto happen this year. 'Our thought is to take our time and study ita bit and make sure everyone understands the implications therewould be for that.'

McKay and Polian said the Vikings-Saints game had little role inpassage of the rule change.

'That's interesting,' McKay said. 'One of the teams thatvoted against was in the game and, last I checked, I don't thinkthey won.'

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Monday he was inclined to vote no.

'You need consistency of the regular season and thepostseason,' Wilf said.

During the season, games end in ties after a 15-minute OT. Inthe playoffs, a winner must be determined.

McKay and Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher, the othercompetition committee co-chairman, said coaches quickly beganfavoring the change once they learned the details. It became such ahot issue that the owners' vote was taken one day earlier thanexpected.

One of those coaches, Marvin Lewis of the Bengals, is on thecommittee. Hours before his team voted no, Lewis expressed approvalof the alteration.

'There's a lot of elements that come into play,' Lewis said.

'For all the proposals we've discussed, this is I think the mostcomplete one.'

McKay said it was critical in making the rule change that 'nophase of the game' was 'adversely affected.'

The players' union has said it believes any change in overtimeneeds to be collectively bargained. Of course, the contract betweenthe league and players expires next March. While the competitioncommittee briefly discussed potential OT changes with the union inFebruary, the NFLPA was not consulted this week.

Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley doesn't like the rulechange.

'I just think that they should keep it like it is,' he said.

'It makes things interesting. Some people don't like the cointoss, but that's just the way it goes. If you're on defense firstand you don't have the ball, you've just got to stop them.'

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