Rams-49ers tie likely not enough to alter NFL rule

When St. Louis and San Francisco couldn’t produce a winner during 75 minutes of play, the complaints came from all corners of the NFL.

Tie games, after all, aren’t much fun for the fans or the players, who finish just as unsatisfied as anyone else.

“I never had to think about it until now, and I sure don’t like it,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “I think everybody on the field would have liked to have gone back out and just settled it, but that’s where we are. That’s the rule right now, so it is what it is.”

The Rams-49ers game Sunday finished at 24-all, the first tie in four years and only the fifth since 1990. So the rule right now that limits regular-season overtime to one period is likely to stay the same for a while.

“It’s an occasional event. There is no real concern we need to change the system,” said NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson, who happened to attend Sunday’s game in San Francisco and was also present for the Atlanta-Pittsburgh draw in 2002. The other recent occurrence was Nov. 16, 2008, when Philadelphia and Cincinnati played at 13 apiece.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb infamously acknowledged afterward he was unaware tie games were still possible. San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson said the same Sunday.

“When I saw both sides walking onto the field, I was like, `Where’s everybody going?’” Goldson said. “Did somebody quit? Forfeit?”

Goldson, for the record, knew about the new wrinkle that now gives one team the chance to match if the other team gets the ball first in overtime and makes a field goal. (Touchdowns still immediately end the game.)

“But I didn’t know there wouldn’t be a second overtime if nobody scored,” Goldson said.

Now he does, due to a rare sequence of events during the extra period that kept the two teams even.

The Rams had an 80-yard pass on the first play negated by an illegal formation penalty. Then stalwart David Akers missed a 41-yard field goal for the 49ers. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein made one from 53 yards, but that didn’t count because of a delay-of-game call. His next attempt from 58 yards was wide right.

By then, the anticlimactic ending seemed inevitable.

“Ties just don’t seem to make sense in football,” said Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who played in that previous draw in 2008. “There’s too much effort, too much sacrifice that goes into this game to end in a tie, that’s for sure.”

The 49ers (6-2-1) now have a hard-to-figure-out lead on the Seahawks (6-4) in the NFC West, which makes Sunday’s outcome all the more maddening.

“A division game? Oh, wow. I guess that could make it interesting at the end of the year,” Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker said.

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