For a couple of minutes, it looked like the Alliance of American Football would have the first overtime in its four-week existence. And then Mike Martz had a different idea.
The San Diego Fleet, coached by Martz, opted for a fake punt from deep in their own territory with less than five minutes to play, giving the Memphis Express possession and a chance to break a 23-23 tie. The Express did, with a 45-yard field goal.
The Fleet then couldn’t get in position to re-tie the game, giving Memphis its first win of the season. The Fleet fell to 2-2.
San Diego led 14-3 after one quarter, but the Express narrowed the deficit to five just before halftime, 20-15. San Diego added a field goal in the fourth quarter, but the Express scored a touchdown and added a two-point conversion to knot the game at 23.
If regulation had ended in a tie, the Fleet and Express would have become the first teams to use the AAF’s overtime procedures: Ball at the 10, four downs to score, no field goals, two-point conversion only, and only one shot each with the ball.
After the game, Martz took full responsibility for the fake punt. He said the team had practiced it for two weeks, and he was confident that it would work.
It didn’t. And that was good for the Express, who had lost their first three games.