First NFL tie since 2008 happened because of overtime rules that don’t often come into play. But Sunday’s game between the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers wasn’t without drama.
Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee/AP
Fans scratched their heads, bookies tore their hair, and players didn’t know what to feel, so both teams sulked. After all, ties are for soccer, right?. Baseball players will play extra inning after extra inning in search of a W. Even the National Hockey League, which resides in the basement of the Big Sports, decided to get rid of ties by instituting a regular-season shootout – a reflection that lower-skilled teams had begun, in unsportsmanlike style, to play for ties instead of wins.
Football, culturally, isn’t supposed to end without a winner. It’s just, well, downright un-American, as could be sensed by the frustration of players. "It just feels like it's unfinished business," San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown told reporters.
Before 1974, ties were actually commonplace in the National Football League, with rules that legislated that only playoff games had to be decisive.
But that year, the league made a big change to the ominously titled “Sudden Death” section of the prodigious NFL rule book, basically acknowledging that, hey, ties aren’t very manly. The rule is simple. Two teams that can’t settle the matter in the allotted 60 minutes get to play a fifth quarter. Whoever scores first, wins.