In the National Football League (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". The game can also automatically end on a safety. If the team that received the first opening kickoff instead scores a field goal, the other team has an opportunity to tie or surpass that score; if they are able to tie the score, the next team to score any points wins. Prior to the rule change, any score by either team in overtime would win the game, which proved to grant a substantial advantage to the team that won the coin toss. 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. Since the National Hockey League eliminated ties by adopting the shootout following the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the NFL is the only one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America to have tied games in regular-season play, as Major League Baseball (in the modern era since 1900) and the National Basketball Association have historically played until there is a winner.
Tie games were once frequent in the NFL, but have become uncommon because of a rule change in 1974 that extended the existing sudden-death overtime period for post-season games into the regular season. Only seven ties have occurred since the 1989 season, a statistic that has been attributed to the increasing accuracy of kickers. Unlike in soccer (association football), where teams routinely play for a draw (due to benefit of a point in the standings), NFL teams rarely play for ties. In general, tied games in the NFL are frowned upon by both teams and fans. Due to the rarity of tied games, some players have not known they were allowed in the NFL, such as former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who said after a tie game against the Cincinnati Bengals that he did not know a tie was a possible result.
With about a minute left in overtime, Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton's pass is intercepted by Rams linebacker Rick Kay at the Los Angeles 1-yard line. The Rams then concede the tie with the ball deep in their own territory.
Baltimore, which eventually finished its season at 0–8–1,[B] overcame a 20–6 fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime. Packers' Jan Stenerud missed wide right from 47 yards with 2:00 left to seal the draw.
Chiefs kicker Nick Lowery, one of the most accurate kickers during the 1989 season, played poorly on the sloppy turf of Cleveland Municipal Stadium. He missed a 45-yard field goal that would have won it for Kansas City with four seconds left in regulation. In overtime, he had a chance to win the game on a 47-yard attempt with 3 seconds left, but missed that one as well.
Each team had an unsuccessful field-goal attempt in the overtime; Ravens' Matt Stover missed wide right from 53 yards with 2:21 remaining, Eagles' Chris Boniol also wide right from 40 yards on the last play of the match.
Only overtime tie to date on a Sunday night and lowest-scoring one under modern rules. Redskins' Gus Frerotte injured himself by headbutting a stadium wall while celebrating his team's lone touchdown.
While this was the first tie under the modified overtime rules, it would have been a tie under the old rules, as neither team scored in the extra period. St. Louis had a game-winning field goal taken away because of a penalty. Both teams missed field goal attempts in the overtime period.
The Packers scored 16 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 23 and force overtime. Both teams scored a field goal in the overtime period, resulting in a final score of 26–26. First tied game in which both teams converted field goal attempts in the extra period.
Both teams scored a field goal in the overtime period. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal attempt as the overtime period expired. The game was the highest-scoring tie game in NFL history since the institution of overtime as well as the first one since 1988 to occur in a month other than November.