NFL morning after: Let’s get rid of ties

AP

If you watched the end of Sunday’s 37-37 tie between the Panthers and Bengals, I hope you kept watching long enough to catch the looks on the players’ and coaches faces as they walked off the field. They didn’t know what to think. Neither did I.

Win an NFL game and you’re jubilant. Lose and you’re devastated. But a tie? Well, a tie just feels like something that makes you shrug. (Especially if you’re Donovan McNabb.)

Soccer still has ties, and so do plenty of sports popular in other countries like rugby and field hockey, and a boxing match or a mixed martial arts fight can end in a draw if the judges say so. But when it comes to American team sports, the NFL is pretty much alone in still having ties. The NHL adopted the shootout to get rid of the tie, and college football has instituted its endless overtimes to make ties a thing of the past. The NFL is in a lonely position. The tie is an anachronism. It needs to go the way of the leather helmet and the flying wedge.

The NFL changed its overtime rules in 2012 so that a field goal on the first possession of overtime wouldn’t win the game, and as a result ties are more common now: There had only been two ties in the previous 14 seasons before the NFL adopted that rule change, but now we’re averaging a tie per season, with one tie in 2012, one in 2013 and our first tie of 2014 on Sunday.

I don’t like that trend. The whole point of playing is to declare a winner. You watch a tie and you feel like you watched a four-hour contest that accomplished nothing.

The NFL’s playoff overtime rule is the same as that of the regular season, except that you keep playing even if you’re tied after 15 minutes of overtime, until someone wins. That should be the rule in the regular season as well. Let’s get rid of ties in the NFL.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Lovie Smith’s players aren’t playing for him. As the head coach of the Bears, Lovie Smith was known for being beloved by his players, but in Tampa he looks like he doesn’t have the attention of his team. The Bucs just come out looking too flat, too often. If you watched their pathetic Thursday night loss to the Falcons you’d think a team couldn’t look any worse — unless you saw the way the Bucs played on Sunday against Baltimore. The Ravens went into Tampa and took a 28-0 lead in the first quarter and a 38-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The Bucs didn’t even look like they were trying.

The Lions’ kicking problems are stunning. Detroit is now down to its third kicker of the season, and the field goal problems still haven’t been fixed. Matt Prater, signed by the Lions last week, went just 1-for-3 in his debut for the Lions on Sunday. As a team, the Lions are now 2-for-12 on field goals longer than 30 yards this season. There are high school teams that kick better than the Lions.

Teddy Bridgewater showed why the Vikings didn’t want to play him this early. Taking on a good Detroit defense on Sunday, Bridgewater got rattled. The Vikings never wanted to start their first-round rookie quarterback this early in the season exactly because they didn’t want him to go through a game like he went through Sunday, when he was sacked eight times and threw three interceptions. Unfortunately, when Matt Cassel got hurt the Vikings had no choice but to start Bridgewater or — shudder — turn to Christian Ponder. Playing Ponder would have been essentially giving up on the season, so the Vikings are soldiering on with Bridgewater, even though he’s going to go through some rough outings like he did on Sunday. Bridgewater is a talented young quarterback who’s going to have to struggle through a tough rookie year. The Vikings just hope he doesn’t keep struggling as much as he did on Sunday.

Adam Jones is a really, really talented football player. It’s too bad that the career of “Pacman” has been overshadowed by his frequent off-field trouble, because that guy is an amazing football player. Just when it looked like the Bengals were toast on Sunday, when they’d fallen behind the Panthers 31-24 late in the fourth quarter, Jones ripped off a 97-yard kickoff return to set up a game-tying touchdown. Jones has always been an incredibly fearless return man: When returning punts, he always wants to make a play and never fair catches — he hasn’t fair caught a punt since 2006, despite returning 70 punts since then. He’s also been a good starting cornerback for much of his career, although at age 31 he’s not quite the contributor he used to be on defense. That 97-yard return was the first time this season that the Bengals had Jones return a kickoff, and that was a smart time to use him. They should use him on kickoff returns more frequently. It’s nice to have a reason to talk about Jones on the field.

Peyton Manning makes the extraordinary seem ordinary. I hardly heard anyone talking about Manning on Sunday, and yet all he did was complete 22 of 33 passes for 237 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, while leading the Broncos to a 31-17 win over the Jets. That’s just become what we expect of Manning at this point. Those three touchdowns gave Manning 506 for his career, which puts him just two behind Brett Favre’s all-time NFL record. I have a feeling we’ll hear plenty about Manning next week, when he’ll break Favre’s record.

DeSean Jackson is something special. Whatever issues were going on with Jackson and Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, the result was that Washington got itself an outstanding football player. Jackson is dynamite with the ball in his hands, as he showed Sunday against Arizona when he scored a 64-yard touchdown and also caught a 42-yard pass. Jackson has a league-high five catches of 40 or more yards. Just think what he could do if he were in a better passing game than Washington’s.

I still don’t know what constitutes an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit. On Sunday in Atlanta, Chicago safety Ryan Mundy lowered his helmet and hit Falcons receiver Roddy White in the side of the head while White was trying to make a catch. It looked to me like a clear case of an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver, so I wasn’t surprised when an official threw a flag. But I was surprised when the referee turned on his microphone and said that there actually was no flag because Mundy led with his shoulder, not his head. That’s not how it looked to me, and apparently not how it looked to the official who threw the flag. At a time when even the league’s own officials can’t keep straight which hits are legal and which are penalties, how are the players supposed to know? The NFL needs to get this rule straightened out. And after that, maybe do something about ties.

87 responses to “NFL morning after: Let’s get rid of ties

  1. If they truly want to get rid of ties, tell the teams to stop playing for one. The Bengals yesterday tried to play out the clock, while this works in regulation because there is OT, they shouldn’t have been trying to play out the clock like they did BECAUSE what happens if you miss? If you hit, it is over whether there is time left or not, Marv should know that.

  2. OK. So now you’re promoting a bunch of grown athletes who are tired from already playing a full game, now play up to another without a break to recover from injuries until AT LEAST Thursday?

    You gotta be kidding me!

  3. the NFL did not have a tie game problem until you decided the overtime rule needed to be changed remember? it was just fine the way it was for 40 years but you thought it needed to be changed and so they did and the result it was what you got Sun. shut up and enjoy it!

  4. The fact that soccer and field hockey are other sports allowed to end in ties says it all about those sports and ties. There is no reason to ever end a sporting event in a tie. Keep playing until someone wins. There is no logical argument against that.

    One thing to question here, Mike Prera (I know I spelled that wrong) explained why the Mundy hit was not illegal and he was 100% spot on. Mundy led with his shoulder and the helmet to helmet part of that hit was incidental and as a result, it was not illegal. Several replays confirmed this but it was close. When they are that close, I prefer the referees stick to a no call rather than flagging a player for a big hit meant to break up the reception.

    HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!?

  5. I still don’t like overtime rules myself. Both teams should have equal chances to win, but not like college. I one team cannot score, punt to the opposition. The team that wants it more will win in the end.

    As for Bridgewater, even while getting sacked, he showed he wasn’t scared, he stayed in the pocket even while it would collapse around him. He would throw a short pass trying to make even a few yards.

    Zimmer/Turner also needs to let him start throwing passes more than 10-15 yards down field, but then again, gotta have an O line to protect him long enough to do that. The Vikings don’t have that right now! Bridgewater is just a kid but is showing the determination of a veteran!

  6. One tie per season? How is that a problem? If you don’t like ties, blame it on the teams that couldn’t get close enough to score (or missed a chip shot FG).

  7. Adopt the college football OT procedures. Instead of the 25 start the possession at tje 35 and play until someone wins. Its a much better, more exciting OT than the moronic NFLs stupid OT Rules

  8. You can’t expect NFL players to keep playing after playing an entire over time quarter.
    Ties have been in the NFL for ever. They are rare, but do happen. And it’s better to get a tie than a loss.
    Leave it alone, it’s fine the way it is. It makes the playoff chase more interesting too.

  9. So Bridgewater goes out and plays terrible – bad if not worse than Ponder ever did yet you make it seems like Ponder is a terrible QB and give Bridgewater a free pass. You guys suck!

  10. Maybe the Lions need to look into a different holder. It’s hard to believe that 3 different kickers could be so bad.

    On that note, should the NFL go to unlimited OT to avoid ties or something gimicky like a field goal contest with each kick being from a further distance? That would be close to the NHL equivalent of the shoot out.

  11. Marv didnt miss the 36 yard FG. But anyway, for ince I toally agree with the article. Just a note on Pacman. Last week he took his first punt of the year and went 42 yards wih it. Time to let him be the return man since Tate is now counted on to fill in for AJ Green. They have 2 first round CBs riding the pine.

  12. Lovie Smith is the most overrated coach of the 21st century. I can’t think of anyone who has been showered with praise and awards for screwing up without having become president first.

  13. Nothing wrong with the very occasional tie. Sometimes teams just play to a draw. Don’t screw this up like the NHL did with a skills competition(shootout) that has nothing to do with the game.

  14. The current system is bad because it encourages “bend don’t break” defense and conservative offense. As a result you get two long drives that end in field goals.

    I didn’t like the prior system either. College is too gimicky.

    The solution – get rid of overtime in the regular season and embrace ties. They will happen sometimes. Adopt college rules for the playoffs.

  15. OMG, seriously? Prater will be fine.

    Prater came the game cold from a suspension having not kicked in competition since the pre-season. He also came into a game with 17 mph wind blowing across the field.

    He missed a 50 yarder just wide left, then smoked 52 yarder with distance to spare, then he clanged a 44 yarder off the post. You are making it sound like he was missing extra points and sending 30 yard field goals out of bounds.

  16. Ties, since they are rare, add to lots of fun later in the season when it comes to playoff seeding and tie-breakers. They should keep it. And it you are worried about player safety then keeping players off the field for what could end up being the equivalent of two full games would make sense

  17. The should have not changed the rule in the first place. They were just pissed farve did not get to the Super Bowl. The saints went and beat the colts. The nfl really wanted the farve manning game!

  18. I totally disagree.
    I’m old enough to remember when the league had LOTS of ties (in 1970 the Chargers had 3 ties in just 14 games), and yes, that sucked.
    But now ties are so rare as to be interesting and create unusual records that make playoff spots more intriguing. Also, like yesterday, sometimes neither team really deserves to win.

  19. So, are you advocating the players stay out on the field longer? Risking injury as they get tired in quarter number 6 or 7? What do you propose to get rid of the tie? They played 5 quarters yesterday and no one outscored the other. How would you have changed that to make it so one team scored more than the other?

    Hockey can line one guy up for the shootout. Baseball extra innings, but its baseball so its non-contact. Basketball scores so much its easier to get variances after 1 extra period.

    Football is different. Its either what they have now, go back to sudden death (Cincy wins on a FG, meh.), or go with a college type format and you get 51-48 games.

    Got any better ideas?

  20. No, what needs done away with is the networks’ ridiculous practices when it comes to doubleheaders. Yesterday thanks to Fox’s harebrained decision to cover the ENTIRE Panthers/Bengals overtime period, people in my market missed the ENTIRE first quarter of the scheduled late game — Bears/Falcons — despite it being billed as a “Game of the Week”. I guarantee you no one around here could care less about how the Panthers / Bengals game turned out, but they were plenty hot at missing that much of the game we cared about.

    Fox is especially bad at this… they basically will not go to coverage of the late doubleheader game until the very last down of the latest running early game is played out. Nine times out of 10 that means missing the start of the scheduled late game. Not cool.

  21. bigjdve says: Oct 13, 2014 6:49 AM

    If they truly want to get rid of ties, tell the teams to stop playing for one. The Bengals yesterday tried to play out the clock, while this works in regulation because there is OT, they shouldn’t have been trying to play out the clock like they did BECAUSE what happens if you miss? If you hit, it is over whether there is time left or not, Marv should know that.

    ———————————————————

    Never seen a team in football play for a tie, especially a team like the Bengals who badly needed a win after getting drubbed by the Pats last weekend. In hockey they play for OT because each team gets a point out of it, but in OT they go all out for that remaining point. It makes sense. OT in football is another whole quarter. If you’re playing for the tie you’re likely to get beat. Adopt the college rules for OT, those are great. In fact, adopt their rules on pass interference also. Sick of seeing 40 yard PI penalties on light contact.

  22. If they want to get rid of ties stop calling Offensive Pass Interference on the Panthers Kelvin Benjamin.It’s always called on a key 3rd down play or a touchdown pass.
    True I’m a homer but I just see every other teams receivers making the same moves and actions as Benji and not getting flagged.

  23. bigjdve says:
    Oct 13, 2014 6:49 AM
    “what happens if you miss? If you hit, it is over whether there is time left or not, Marv should know that.”

    … or if they miss it like they did the ball would have gone back to Carolina. I thought it was a near gimmie of a kick for Nugent, but they missed so if your Marvin Lewis the tie is better than a loss

  24. Yes, lets take the approach of soccer and hockey and settle ties after overtime with a field goal kicking contest. Start with your own 40 yard line and subtract 10 yards each try for 5 tries. So the second kick would be from the 50, then 40, then 30 and then the 20 yard line. Oh, and lets make a team who has a player ejected play with only 10 men. To add to the fun, let’s make offside penalties apply any time a receiver gets behind the defense.

    These reforms will make football just as exciting as soccer. You will be able to go to the bathroom and get another beer without missing anything.

  25. I don’t like overtime unless it’s a situation where one team must advance (playoffs).

    If you’ve shown that you’re not better than the other team over the 60 minutes you play, why should a team be declared the ‘winner’ over another team?

  26. Peyton Manning makes the extraordinary seem ordinary. I hardly heard anyone talking about Manning on Sunday, and yet all he did was complete 22 of 33 passes for 237 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, while leading the Broncos to a 31-17 win over the Jets. That’s just become what we expect of Manning at this point. Those three touchdowns gave Manning 506 for his career, which puts him just two behind Brett Favre’s all-time NFL record. I have a feeling we’ll hear plenty about Manning next week, when he’ll break Favre’s record.

    ————————————–

    I understand the fawning over Manning regarding him breaking a longevity record but touting 22 of 33 for 237 yards against the 15th worst pass defense as something special? 18 QBs threw for more yards than Manning. 5 of them threw for 3-5 TDs and yet we’re supposed to believe that Manning’s output was special on this day?

  27. Ties are miserable, but I’m guessing the owners believe it happens rarely enough to leave it be.

  28. Lovie Smith doesn’t even look like he should be a defensive co-ordinator anymore. Game has passed him by and he refuses to enter modern NFL football. And he’s a “players coach” because he never yells or would actually take anyone’s job away despite what a debacle this season has been.

  29. Excuse me, we had an end of ties. It was called “Sudden Death” and all you non-football players whined it wasn’t fair because both sides didn’t get the ball.

    Well you got what you wanted now shut up and deal with it.

  30. It is all Goodell’s fault. He wanted to see Favre in the Super Bowl and he changed the rule because he and his family are Vikings fan. Just another reason to get rid of the commish.

  31. Last I checked the Lions won 17-3 yesterday so I guess the kicking game didn’t affect the outcome of the game for us in a negative way. It’s a very popular narrative to talk about how bad our kicking game is but it’s so obvious to anyone who actually knows what they’re saying that Prater is going to be way better than Henry and that other clown. His two misses were both pretty close it’s not like he was shanking them like Henry was. I know you need something to write about but I promise you that those of us who actually follow the Lions aren’t worried.

  32. Oh and when you said “a good Lions defense” I think you meant to say “the top defense in the NFL” but I know how you hate giving us credit for anything so…..

  33. College rules should apply. There’s no reason to expose players (who are already exhausted from regulation) to additional reps in OT by having a kickoff and 10-12 plays just to get into scoring position. The only thing that matters in OT is scoring… so get teams in position to do that as quickly as possible, get the game decided, and send everyone home.

  34. As always…. They should have never changed the OT rules in the first place. Anyone with half a brain could see this coming a mile away.

  35. DeSean Jackson is something special. Whatever issues were going on with Jackson and Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, the result was that Washington got itself an outstanding football player. Jackson is dynamite with the ball in his hands, as he showed Sunday against Arizona when he scored a 64-yard touchdown and also caught a 42-yard pass. Jackson has a league-high five catches of 40 or more yards. Just think what he could do if he were in a better passing game than Washington’s.

    ========================

    Washington has the 5th most passing yards per game in the league. Only 1 yard/game less than the Broncos but don’t let the facts stop you.

    If they don’t beat Tennessee next week, the only things the Redskins will be in the running for is the #1 overall pick.

  36. desean as you say is something special. and he’s now found his home. he can run go routes all game, never block, catch a couple long balls to pad his stats and keep his name in the espn highlights.

    he’s a great receiver for a 1-5 club. they are so talent starved they’ll take him on his terms rather than the coach’s.

  37. They changed the OT rules when Favre lost the game. They change the rules for Favre and Manning whenever they screw up. They should play till someone wins. I hate ties in the NFL and this is coming from a DIE HARD SOCCER FAN.

  38. I think they should do it the same way as the NCAA, but have teams start at the 40 rather than the 25. This way, the game is decided by who plays better overall as a team rather than who plays better offense or defense.

  39. Mongo no like ties.

    So we’re averaging 1 tie every 256 games?

    We average 2 NFL apologies for not knowing the rules each week.

    I’d think we’d be more interested in improving the refereeing than ties.

  40. I don’t know whether Bridgewater will be a good NFL QB or not. But if he’s not, it won’t have anything to do with yesterday.

    I am so tired of hearing about the fragile psyches of these guys. A great QB will be great, a bad QB will be bad. Troy Aikman got his head kicked in his entire rookie year and went 0-11 as the starter.

    I seem to remember him turning out OK.

  41. Interesting to note that all of the sports you mention other than MMA that still have ties are international sports. Why is it only in America that we insist on these manufactured outcomes, no matter how long we must play or how much we must gerrymander the rules to make sure we don’t have a tie.

    An outcome should paint a picture of the game played. If the teams battled it out for 75 minutes and there was not victor, so be it. What, we should change the rules because we are disappointed when there is no winner? Guess what. Disappointment is a part of sports.

    Get over it.

  42. I think it is a little early to call this increase in tie games a trend. It’s more of an anomaly right now. There are 256 NFL games every year and if one a year ends in a tie, I don’t see why that is something that needs to be corrected. Additionally, it is ridiculous to blame it on the new overtime rules. The CAR/CIN game yesterday was the first game where each team kicked a field goal and followed that up with a tie. Plus, If Mike Nugent kicks a damn chip shot, this conversation isn’t taking place.

    If you are opposed to ties, fine, but for God’s sake don’t advocate for the ridiculous way they handle it in college football. There are too many college games that end with one team simply settling for a 42 yard field goal to win the game.

  43. Maybe it wouldn’t fix anything, but I think that eliminating one of the downs in overtime might help control ties. Basically, 4th down is for punting or field goal tries. That’s it.

    The trailing team always has the advantage of that extra down when they are behind by a field goal. Force them to get their first downs in 3 plays or the game ends.

    The team that scored first most likely only used the 3 downs (to get a first down) to get into field goal position, so force the other team to do the same.

    2 minute drill offense achieves a lot of its success by extending drives by using that 4th down to get a first down. Take away the 4th down offensive play and it might prevent some of these ties.

    Or, just play until someone scores in overtime, which is what is should be anyway.

  44. Here are just a couple of issues between Jackson and Kelly–

    Jackson DID NOT want to block downfield in the running game. If you are WR for Chip Kelly, that is a must. Check any game from the past two years and on a running play every WR NOT NAMED Jackson is throwing a block.

    Jackson is making 2.5M LESS in D.C. than he would have in Philly. If he’d have kept his mouth shut and not said he wanted his contract renegotiated 2 years after he signed a new contract, he’d still be in Philly.

    Lastly, Jackson was all about Jackson, He gave an interview where he said that he didn’t mind if the team lost, as long as he got his yards and catches. Look kat the Viking game last year, where he didn’t try to break up an INT and didn’t even try to go after the DB.

  45. There have been 5 ties since the year 2000. So what?

    I’d suggest the old system that simply says the next team to score wins, but leave it open ended if you want a solution.

    All this BS about “fairness” since one team gets the ball first is rubbish. If your defense isn’t good enough to stop a team from scoring in OT then you deserve to lose.

    If you want to make it “fair” then simply get rid of FGs in OT. Make it a TD/Safety or nothing.

  46. We should get rid of ties and give both teams losses. You didn’t win did you? That means you lost, both of you.

  47. How does it make sense to allege that they changed the rule for Favre and the Vikings? It was too late by then, guys.

    The rule was changed because of popular outcry, not to benefit any given team or player.

  48. Leave it alone! Most likely some suit at NBC lost his football pool because of a tie so now we can look forward to at least one hour long expose by Lisa Ling or someone else on how ties are ruining America. Don’t like ties? Wear a v-neck .

  49. The tie didn’t really bother me per se, the real issue is that the OT rules are needlessly complex now. Why do teams have a chance to answer a FG and not a TD? Wouldn’t it be far simpler to just have them play an extra quarter, possibly a shortened one like maybe 10 minutes? Then whoever is ahead wins and if it’s still a tie I’d be fine with that in the regular season.

  50. Let’s get rid of watching an early game to its end, being happy it ended in regulation before the real game you wanted to watch on the same network starts, and being sent to Bonus coverage of 2 teams that no one cares about outside of their local markets while you miss the entire 1st quarter of the game you wanted to watch.

  51. Keep ties, eliminate overtime.

    I like bonus coverage as much as everyone else, but we’d get the same suspense if teams just played the fourth quarter like it was the end of the game.

    Football is an exhausting, violent game. 60 minutes is enough time to find a winner. Sometimes there isn’t one.

  52. New overtime concept, borrowed from “braveheart” in lacrosse – put the ball at the 50 yard line and each team gets 2 players on their own 10 yard lines. First team to take the ball over the opposing goal line wins. No stoppage of play once the whistle is blown to start until one team scores.

  53. Go back to the old rules. Sudden death. bengals should have won on the first FG. Both teams getting a “chance” is a waste.

    No college rules either. Just sudden death.

  54. The tie thing isn’t that bad. One per year is not the end of the world. I hated the old rules, where the team that won the toss essentially won the game. All they had to do was drive into FG range. Too easy. The sun still came up on Monday, there are still games this week.
    As for the penalties, I am all for PIs becoming 15 yarders like in college. Heaving a ball on 3rd down and getting what amounts to a 30-40 yard gain bc of a weak PI call is lame. Especially with the new emphasis on the rule. Several games have been greatly affected by this. PI shouldn’t be a spot foul unless it’s a personal foul. There are too many teams that actually employ this strategy, knowing there’s a good chance the DB will be called for an iffy PI. Get rid of it

  55. If someone with more time than I could research a team’s record after an overtime game, I’d be curious. I imagine the implications of playing 5 quarters in a week is staggering (meaning you probably are nearly guaranteed to lose your next game).

    Just look at how both Carolina and Cincy performed this week after last week’s marathon.

  56. Give 1/2 point to a team at the beginning of the game. That way there can be no ties and no team can fall back on “playing for the tie.” It is win or lose.

    Decide who gets the 1/2 point as part of the coin toss. Give it to the team who opens the game kicking-off OR perhaps to the team who decides which side of the field they want to defend.

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