ST. LOUIS – A day after participating in just the NFL’s sixth regular season tie in the past 23 years, the St. Louis Rams still couldn’t believe what happened Sunday at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. They also couldn’t believe the rule.
The Rams and 49ers players to a 24-24 draw Sunday after neither team could score in the extra 15-minute overtime period. It was just the 18th overtime game that ended in a tie in regular season history since the NFL added overtime in 1974.
“I guess soccer games can end in ties, certain ones, but it just doesn’t make sense,” said Rams defensive lineman Chris Long. “Both teams really poured their hearts out for 60-plus minutes. Guys really laid it on the line on both sides and what a football game and just to end it that way was odd.
“I never had to think about it until now and I sure don’t like it. I think everybody on the field would have liked to have gone back out and just settled it. That’s where we are, that’s the rule right now. It is what it is.”
The Rams had plenty of chances to win the game in regulation after leading 14-0 in the first quarter and 17-7 early in the fourth quarter. When San Francisco scored two touchdowns in a span of 17 seconds to take the lead, the Rams responded with a 14-play, 81-yard drive to retake the lead with 1:09 remaining.
But the Rams defense couldn’t keep San Francisco from getting into field goal range and a David Akers kick with three seconds left sent the game into overtime.
Both teams missed game-winning field goals in overtime and the Rams had two potentially key plays wiped out by penalties. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein had a 53-yard field goal negated by a delay of game penalty, only to miss a 58-yard attempt on the next play.
The game ended with the Rams running out of time as they attempted to get into field goal range.
“Obviously it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to end in a tie but it is what it is I guess,” said Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola, who told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King on Sunday that he didn’t know the rule and thought the game was headed to a second overtime.
San Francisco safety Dashon Golden didn’t know the rule either, telling the Bay Area News group, “I didn’t know you could tie. When I saw both sides walking onto the field, I was like, ‘Where’s everybody going?'”
The last NFL game to end in a tie came in 2008 when the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals tied 13-13. Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb made headlines that day when he admitted he didn’t know overtime rules would allow a game to end in a tie.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher opened his press conference Monday by telling reporters, “Well this is a first for me, talking the day after a ballgame that ended up in a tie.”
Fisher, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, said the overtime rule continues to be one of the most talked about issues during offseason meetings.
Some football followers have suggested that the NFL take on the college overtime rule in which each team starts a possession at the opponent’s 25-yard line and the game continues until a winner is decided. Teams must attempt two-point conversions beginning in the third overtime.
“The committee talks about it every year and the issue is just the length of game,” Fisher said. “This was a long game. These were two teams that played an extra quarter so that’s the issue. They talked about the college rule and all the other things, and clearly it doesn’t end once you get to the postseason, but every four or five years it happens and the records, the standings look a little different. There are teams that get in as result of ties and teams that don’t.”
The Rams arrived in St. Louis around 1 a.m. after a long flight from San Francisco. They were back at their training facility just a few hours later for the usual Monday of meetings and film work. The tie put them at 3-5-1 on the season.
“It’s kind of like losing,” Long said. “We felt like we should have won that game. In the process we found out a lot about ourselves and we found out a lot about where we stand in this division. We’re just going to have to turn some of our opportunities into wins.”