The National Football League (NFL), known from 1920–21 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA), is an American football league based in the United States. In the NFL, a tied game occurs when a regular season game ends with both teams having an equal score. If a game is tied after regulation (60 minutes, divided into four quarters of 15 minutes), a 15-minute sudden-death overtime period is held. Under current overtime rules adopted in 2012, "teams... have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once in the extra period unless the team that receives the [first] overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession". If that team instead scores a field goal, the other team has an opportunity to tie or surpass that score. Prior to the rule change, any score by either team in overtime would end the game. Ties have counted as a half-win and half-loss in league standings since 1972; before that, ties were not counted in the standings at all.
Tie games were once frequent in the NFL, but have become increasingly uncommon due to a rule change in 1974 that extended the existing sudden-death overtime for post-season games into the regular season. Only six ties have occurred since the 1989 season, a statistic that has been attributed to the increasing accuracy of kickers. Unlike in association football (soccer), where teams routinely play for ties due to the benefit of a point in the standings, NFL teams never play for ties; the sudden-death overtime system does not provide for an easy way to finish in a tie. Instead, ties are almost always the result of mishaps or mistakes from the teams involved. Tied games are considered to be the least desired outcome a football game can produce, in part due to an American cultural aversion to ties. Due to the rarity of tied games, some players (such as former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb) that have participated in one have recounted that they did not think a tie was a possible result for an NFL game.
From 1920 to 1973, the NFL had a total of 256 tied games. Only three seasons (1934, 1950, 1952) went without a tied game, while five seasons (1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1932) had at least ten ties. The most ties, 17, occurred in the 1920 season. Since 1974, there have only been 18 tied games, the most recent occurring in the 2012 season when the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams played to a 24–24 draw. The highest-scoring tie game since the rule change was the first one, a 1974 game where the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos tied 35–35. The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles share the lead for the most tied games since the rule change, with each team having played in four tied games.
Tied games (1920 to 1973) 
|Season||No. of ties|
Tied games (1974 to present) 
|Team (X)||Denotes the number of times the team has tied a game from 1974 on.|
|No.||Date||Home team||Away team||Score||Note(s)|
|1||September 22, 1974||Denver Broncos||Pittsburgh Steelers||35–35||Second regular-season overtime game in NFL history as well as the highest-scoring tie game under modern rules.|
|2||September 19, 1976||Minnesota Vikings||Los Angeles Rams||10–10|
|3||November 26, 1978||Green Bay Packers||Minnesota Vikings (2)||10–10||Both teams finished the season with an 8–7–1 record. Minnesota won the NFC Central over Green Bay by virtue of a 1–0–1 head-to-head record.|
|4||October 12, 1980||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Green Bay Packers (2)||14–14|
|5||October 4, 1981||Miami Dolphins||New York Jets||28–28|
|6||December 19, 1982||Baltimore Colts||Green Bay Packers (3)||20–20||Only game of the season that Baltimore (0–8–1)[B] did not lose.|
|7||October 24, 1983||St. Louis Cardinals||New York Giants||20–20||Only overtime tie in Monday Night Football history.|
|8||November 4, 1984||Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||23–23|
|9||October 19, 1986||Atlanta Falcons||San Francisco 49ers||10–10|
|10||December 7, 1986||Philadelphia Eagles (2)||St. Louis Cardinals (2)||10–10|
|11||September 20, 1987||Green Bay Packers (4)||Denver Broncos||17–17|
|12||October 2, 1988||New York Jets (2)||Kansas City Chiefs||17–17|
|13||November 19, 1989||Cleveland Browns||Kansas City Chiefs (2)||10–10|
|14||November 16, 1997||Baltimore Ravens||Philadelphia Eagles (3)||10–10|
|15||November 23, 1997||Washington Redskins||New York Giants (2)||7–7||Lowest-scoring tie game under modern rules. In a now infamous incident, Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte injured himself during the game by headbutting a stadium wall while celebrating the lone Redskins touchdown of the game.|
|16||November 10, 2002||Pittsburgh Steelers (2)||Atlanta Falcons (2)||34–34||Atlanta mounted a 17-point comeback to force overtime. Pittsburgh wide receiver Plaxico Burress was stopped a yard short of the end zone on the final play of overtime.|
|17||November 16, 2008||Philadelphia Eagles (4)||Cincinnati Bengals||13–13||Bengals kicker Shayne Graham missed a 47-yard field goal with seven seconds left in overtime.|
|18||November 11, 2012||San Francisco 49ers (2)||St. Louis Rams||24–24||St. Louis had a game-winning field goal taken away because of a penalty. Both teams missed field goal attempts in the overtime period.|
- Campbell, Dave (November 13, 2012). "Rams-49ers tie likely not enough to alter NFL rule". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "NFL overtime rules". NFL.com. March 28, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
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- Jonsson, Patrick (November 12, 2012). "First NFL tie since 2008, between Rams and 49ers: What is this, soccer?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- Chase, Chris (November 12, 2012). "All recent NFL ties have happened in mid-November and other interesting facts". USA Today. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- Graham, Bryan Armen. "An argument in favor of tie games". Fan Nation. SI.com. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- Farrar, Doug (November 12, 2012). "49ers and Rams players fail the test when asked about overtime rules". Shutdown Corner. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "1920 APFA Weekly League Schedule". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- "NFL Champions". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- "NFL History by Decade: 1981-1990". NFL.com Baltimore finished with zero wins, eight losses, and one tie. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Weinfuss, Josh (October 23, 2012). "Amped Up For "Monday Night Football"". Arizona Cardinals. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
- Schremmer, Mak (November 13, 2012). "Redskins Pro Bowler remembered for bizarre celebration". The Joplin Globe. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Bouchette, Ed (November 11, 2012). "Steelers settle for tie as Vick rallies Atlanta from 17-point deficit in fourth quarter". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- "Eagles, Bengals play to NFL's first tie in six years at 13-13". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
- Gregory, Sean (November 12, 2012). "Unusual Ending: How the NFL Got a Tie Game". Time Magazine. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
General references 
- "Past Standings (1920–2011)". NFL.com. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
- Sessler, Mike (November 11, 2012). "Rams-49ers play to tie in game fueled by weirdness". NFL.com. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
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