4 Ways to Ensure a Tie Never Happens in NFL Football
Seeing the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams tie was enough to make us all despise the NFL's overtime format.
The recent improvements to the overtime rules certainly helped, but seeing a game end in a tie almost feels like being punched in the face after dedicating four-plus hours to seeing a victor emerge.
Ties are not exactly commonplace (the Rams/49ers tie was the first since 2008,) but they happen with enough frequency for everyone to realize they are terrible.
What are the alternatives? Are any realistic?
The answer is yes, but there are also some off-the-wall ways in which the NFL could change its overtime formula.
Let's examine both the possible and the impossible as we look at four ways the NFL could ensure a tie never happens again.
Field Goal Shootout
Let's start with the zany alternatives which have little to no likelihood of ever taking place...
The first is a shootout period, much like the ones in the NHL and in soccer leagues across the world. It could take place after an overtime period or replace it altogether.
Each team's kicker would line up at, say the 20-yard line, and attempt a field goal. If they both made the attempt they would then move back five yards and kick again.
This pattern would continue until someone missed. If both players missed they would simply kick again.
The reason this would never take place?
Unlike soccer and hockey, this involves only one player and puts the entire game in the balance. Goalies and multiple shooters get opportunities in soccer and hockey, making for a much more balanced overtime option.
Remove Punts and Field Goals from Overtime
How does this sound...the coin toss takes place per usual, as does the opening kickoff.
However, once a team is in possession of the ball they are not allowed to kick field goals or punt. It's touchdown or bust.
Who knows what would ensue?
The positives of this scenario are limited, but exciting. A team may be forced to go for it on their own 15- or 20-yard line, with the risk of handing the game over on a silver platter if they don't convert.
The play-calling would be completely unpredictable and aerial attacks would undoubtedly become the name of the game.
This is a format that may seem better suited to the smaller confines of an Arena Football League field, but it is fun to imagine nonetheless.
Allow Multiple OT Periods
Here is a realistic solution that still would have trouble being adopted.
In the playoffs, overtime periods continue as long as they have to. A winner must be declared for obvious reasons, and it results in thrilling games that hinge on every single play.
Why not carry the same set of rules over from the postseason to the regular season?
The answer would seem to be that this formula could frustrate TV providers and make game day difficult to prepare for.
What happens when a 1 p.m. game last six hours and completely wipes out a 4 p.m. broadcast?
These are legitimate questions, but this format would undeniably add drama and intrigue to regular season OT contests.
Adopt the College Format
Finally, let's go ahead and get the most obvious solution out of the way.
The NFL has a ready-made formula asking to be adopted in the form of the NCAA's overtime rules. Over the years, many have clamored for the NFL to switch to the college formula. It often results in exciting contests that can go six or seven overtimes before declaring a winner.
Just this past week the Missouri Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers played a four-OT thriller that finished with a score of 51-48 in favor of Missouri.
The only fault of this format is that it can become an offensive shootout that inflates statistics and drags out contests.
But it also delivers a clear winner.
This option makes plenty of sense for the NFL, but it would certainly require some tweaking in order to reduce its duration.
Perhaps forcing teams to try two-point conversions in the first overtime instead of the third would do the trick.