|Written by Michael Amato|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2012 07:57|
There is something strangely compelling about a tie game in the National Football League. Not so much the tie itself, but all the events leading up to it in the final stages of the game. Ties in the NFL are about as rare as an aggressive Marty Schottenheimer play call, and the game on Sunday between the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers that ended 24-24 was the first since 2008.
That last game in 2008 was the famous contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals where Donovan McNabb admitted he didn't know you could tie. Apparently a few players on Sunday felt the same way. Rams receiver Danny Amendola told SI's Peter King that he expected there would be a second overtime.
If the players aren't aware of the rules then the coaches certainly are. It's always fun to watch the play calling when the overtime session gets down to about two minutes left. It seems teams never know when to be conservative or push the ball down field. You want to try and win, but you don't want to lose either. Especially in a divisional game. A tie could be just as good as a win potentially when it comes to the standings in December, but by the same token it could be like a loss. Let's say the Rams are tied for a Wild Card spot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 16 games. If Tampa sits at 9-7 and St. Louis is 9-6-1, then the Rams go to the playoffs. However, if the Rams finish 8-7-1, then the Bucs sneak in. It may seem insignificant now, but it could be a major factor down the stretch.
The fact is nobody really wanted to win this game. The normally reliable David Akers missed a relatively easy 41-yard game winning kick. Then the Rams seemed so confident in Greg Zuerlein's leg that they completely shut down their offense as they approached field goal range, and for good measure took a delay of game penalty just to turn a 53-yard attempt into a 58-yard kick. Zuerlein promptly missed of course.
The problem with ties is there is nothing to talk about for fans and journalists when the game is done. Every week in the NFL is a life changing experience for both teams playing each other. Whoever wins must be on the right track and is moving in the right direction, and whoever loses is in dire straits and needs to make changes fast. In reality, the difference between the two is often a kick that just went a couple of yards in one direction or another.
Here's what you would have heard on every post game show if Akers hit that kick in OT:
"Boy the 49ers really rallied after losing Alex Smith to an injury didn't they? I mean Colin Kaepernick made some big plays with his legs to extend drives and had that offense moving. Again the Rams just couldn't close out a divisional opponent on the road and Jeff Fisher doesn't seem to have his stamp on this team quite yet."
Now here is what would have been said if Zuerlein's 53-yarder in OT stood:
"This was a statement game for the Rams. Jeff Fisher really has this team turning a corner and going into San Fransisco and putting up those kind of points against that defense was impressive. Sam Bradford has been playing some good football in recent weeks and you can consider the Rams a Wild Card contender down the stretch."
Instead we got nothing because of the tie. Nobody knows what to say. Who is in trouble? Who is moving in the right direction? What does this mean for momentum going into next week? Who has to rebound?
Maybe ties are actually good for the game in some ways. Football is not black and white, and nobody is that good or that bad based on the outcome of one game. The true identity of a team is probably somewhere closer to the middle of the spectrum. Ties introduce shades of grey and forces us to think outside the box a little more, which isn't always a bad thing.
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|Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 08:00|