Rams vs. 49ers: A Tie, Really? Why the NFL Needs to Change the League's OT Rule

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterNovember 12, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers talks with referee Clete Blakeman #34 during a break in play against St. Louis Rams in the first quarter on November 11, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The teams tied 24-24 in overtime.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Twenty hours have now passed since the NFL's first tie since 2008 and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about the outcome.

Was it a good game? Absolutely. Should it have ended in a tie? Absolutely not.

Weekly, the NFL dominates television ratings and captivates sports fans far more than any other sport does in the United States. Yet, Roger Goodell's $9 billion a year gold mine continuously gets it wrong in one key area—the rules.  

Everyone has their own complaints. Most hate the ticky-tack rules that favor the quarterbacks and wide receivers. Some can't stand the way the NFL handles its blackout policy for organizations who don't consistently sell out their home games. But most of all, the worst has to be the league's handling of overtime. 

Personally, I've always hated the rule. It truly makes no sense—why in the world are they even giving two teams the opportunity to tie? This is not hockey, nor is this soccer, this is American football.

Every team has 16 games to prove how effective its offseason preparation and in-season adjustments have been. 

Unfortunately, when two teams tie, coaches, players and fans aren't exactly sure how to react. 49ers safety Dashon Goldson had this to say at the end of yesterday's game (via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com): “I’ve never heard of a tie in football,” Goldson said, “Where’s everybody going? Did somebody quit? Forfeit?”

Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola was also quite confused at the end of regulation. Amendola told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he thought there was going to be a second overtime. He had no idea the game was over until he heard it from an official. 

So, maybe Donovan McNabb wasn't the only player who didn't know the overtime rules back in 2008. It sounds like plenty of players are uneducated when it comes to the league's flawed overtime rule.

Shoot, even Fox thought a second overtime period was coming after the break. 

I understand that players may not know every rule when they enter the league, but do coaches not cover a rule with such importance?

The NFL needs to do one of two things—it needs to adapt the same overtime rules that college football has or it needs to streamline the playoff rules into the regular season. It doesn't make sense to have two different sets of rules that vary between a playoff game and a regular-season game.

Let's take a look at the modified overtime rules from NFL.com:

Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.

It clearly states that a playoff game cannot end in a tie, so why should a regular-season game? Does it not carry the same importance of a playoff game? If the NFL does truly think that, it is foolish. Parity is at an all-time high in the NFL and it's obvious every game matters. 

However, uniform rules should be implemented across the collegiate and professional ranks. That way, a lower number of players will be confused by the rules when they enter the NFL. I'm not crazy about every collegiate rule, but in regards to overtime, the nail is hit on the head. 

If the NFL were to adopt the collegiate rules, it should make one minor modification. The starting field position for offenses should be at the 35-yard line instead of the 25-yard line. Kicker accuracy in the NFL is already at an all-time high, let's not aid them any more than we already do. 

Hopefully, yesterday's game is a healthy reminder to the league and its executives that an NFL game should never end in a tie. 


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