WASHINGTON – When the NFL announced before the season started that the overtime rules for playoff games would now apply to regular season games, I cringed. The thing I hate most about football would have a chance to rear its ugly head more often: Tie games.
My fear came to life Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams played to a 24-24 draw, the first tie game in four years. Nobody won. Nobody lost. It was just…a tie.
In case you’re unaware of the rules, the NFL has moved from sudden-death overtime (where the first team to score wins) to a more convoluted system that tries to ensure both teams have a possession.
Basically, if a touchdown is scored on the first possession of overtime, it’s game over. But hit a field goal, and the other team can either tie it up with another field goal (making it sudden death from that point on) or win it with a TD.
The funny this is, most people (including some of the players on the field) had no idea this was even possible. I mean, there’s just no way a multi-billion dollar entity like the NFL would put its players on the field for a total of 75 minutes, subject them to the brutal physical and mental toll of the professional gridiron and then just shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, well. Can’t find a winner here” and go home, right?
I get why the rule change came about: To end the possibility of NFL games essentially being decided on a coin toss. Nice sentiment, but as is the case with a lot of knee-jerk reactions, it creates about as many issues as it solves.
Yes, a game can no longer end on a quick drive for a field goal. But the likelihood of a tie game has increased dramatically. I’d rather have a game end after only one possession than seeing several possessions and no result.
To be fair, the Niners/Rams game probably ends in a tie even with the previous rules in effect. Both teams had the ball, missed field goals and had big plays reversed on bonehead penalties. So it’s not even the rule change itself that I’m railing against.
What gets me is that any change should have included the elimination of tie games altogether.
I know we’re in an age of heightened awareness for player safety. I know this could open players up to more exposure to wear and tear. But in a league where there’s only 16 regular season games, each of which carry the weight of roughly five NBA games or 10 Major League Baseball games, it matters whether you win or lose.
If the two aforementioned leagues (with individual games of far less importance) won’t end a game without a definite result, why won’t the league with the higher stakes follow suit?
Furthermore, this tie nonsense is a rip-off for the fans. To me, it’s like vacating wins in college: you can’t tell me I spent all that time and money at the game and then say it never happened. If I show up to an NFL stadium, I’d better leave with either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. I paid for it. I earned it.
So the next “fix” for overtime in the NFL should be a second overtime. And if necessary, a third. Whatever it takes to get another notch in the “win” or “loss” column and do away with the need for a third column altogether.
Now for a less controversial form of extra football:
Colts 27 Jaguars 10
Let’s be honest. The only reason this game got any ratings outside of Indy was to see what Andrew Luck looks like bald. The NFL has got to learn to stop putting Jacksonville on national TV…if Florida doesn’t want to see the Jags, neither does the rest of the country.
Giants 13 Bengals 31
New York’s performance in Cincinnati was the embodiment of the entire NFC Least (no, that’s not a typo…I totally mean that) this season. Don’t be surprised if 9-7 wins this division again.
Falcons 27 Saints 31
I could feel a New Orleans win here as soon as Roddy White starting bumpin’ his gums about going 16-0. But as quickly as the old ’72 Dolphins popped the corks and poured champaign after previously undefeated Atlanta’s first loss.
There aren’t enough superlatives to fully describe how amazing it is that Adrian Peterson has rushed for over 1,100 yards in 10 games despite being only 11 months removed from a devastating knee injury. If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, then A.D. is Optimus Prime.
Bills 31 Patriots 37
Tom Brady has never lost at home against Buffalo. Never. Given the Bills’ continued downward spiral, Brady might just retire with that streak intact.
Chargers 24 Buccaneers 34 Philip Rivers rapidly morphing into Jay Cutler. Norv Turner meltdown after the game. Change is a comin’ to San Diego.
Broncos 36 Panthers 14
I think Tim Hardaway speaks for John Fox in his return to Carolina when he says:
Raiders 20 Ravens 55
Look, I give Baltimore props for setting a new franchise mark for scoring and being the latest in a long line of offenses to light up the scoreboard at Oakland’s expense. But fake field goals when you’re already up 24 points? Did you learn nothing about karma coming back to bite you after running it up on Pittsburgh in the 2011 season opener?
Jets 7 Seahawks 28
A wide receiver (Golden Tate) threw one pass and managed to walked away with a higher QB rating than Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow combined. That’s all you need to know about the Jets’ QB conundrum.
Cowboys 38 Eagles 23
Anyone else see the irony of a rookie QB bearing a striking resemblance to Tom Petty circa 1989 taking the helm for a team mired in a 5-game losing skid?
Rams 24 49ers 24 (OT)
Another by-product of this travesty: San Fran’s non-result could come back to haunt them when the race for homefield advantage hits the stretch run.
Texans 13 Bears 6
If this is a Super Bowl preview, I might skip the Super Bowl this year.
Chiefs 13 Steelers 16 (OT)
Given how close they’ve played Pittsburgh and Baltimore this year, Kansas City should petition for a move to the AFC North.