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Shutdown Corner

49ers and Rams players fail the test when asked about overtime rules

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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So ... wait. It's a TIE?!?!?" (Getty Images)

OK, Donovan McNabb -- you're off the hook. In November of 2008, the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals played to a 13-13 tie, and McNabb, then the Eagles quarterback, took a great deal of heat for not knowing the rules of overtime.

"I've never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book," McNabb said once the game was over. "It's part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie."

Several other Eagles players expressed confusion and consternation at this whole "tie" idea, but McNabb was an easy target for Philly media and fans, so he took the brunt of the abuse following the game.

Four years later, NFL players are no more aware that in the pros, games can end without a winner. In the first NFL tie since that Eagles contest, the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams were deadlocked at 24-24 at the end of the fifth quarter, and players on both teams seemed aghast at the whole idea. We start with Rams receiver Danny Amendola, who caught 11 passes for 102 yards against San Francisco's excellent defense.

"Amendola just told me he thought there was going to be a second overtime,"'s Peter King tweeted on Sunday night. "Didn't know it was over till he heard from an official."

And it's not just Amendola. Forty Niners safety Dashon Goldson, who's been playing at a Pro Bowl level over the last few seasons, seemed to think that college rules applied.

"I didn't know the rules! I didn't know you could tie in football," Goldson told the media after the game. "It's a competitve sport, man -- you've got winners and losers. You've gotta choose one. I never heard of tying in football -- I really didn't."

So, when did Goldson realize that ties were possible?

"When I saw both teams walking onto the field. Yeah, really. I said, 'Where's everybody going? Did somebody quit? Is this a forfeit?'"

Nope -- it wasn't a forfeit, though it certainly looked like it at times. The Rams had an 80-yard Amendola reception called back on the first play of overtime, Greg Zuerlein's potential game-winning field goal later in the game was also called back, and San Francisco's David Akers missed a 41-yard field goal. The penalty on Zuerlein's 53-yard try was particularly egregious -- who gets busted for delay of game in a situation like that? Zuerlein missed the 58-yard follow-up.

Then again, when nobody seems to get the rules, the lack of urgency is a bit more understandable.

"In college, there are multiple overtimes, and in high school and Pop Warner," McNabb said in 2008. "I never knew in the professional ranks it would end that way. I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs."

Well, the rules are a bit different in those cases ... but you might be surprised at how few NFL people understand that to this day.

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