Donovan McNabb was referenced more on Sunday than he has been in the last 12 months, and that includes his days with the Minnesota Vikings — when he was a starter too. The reason is the last NFL game to end in a tie was back in 2008 and was followed up by McNabb infamously quipping that he pretty much had no idea what this strange thing called overtime was, and couldn’t wrap his head around why we were talking about it — or the rules that apply to it.
But he may be off the hook and absolved of his rule book sins as after Sunday’s 24-24 tie between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams, members on both sides were utter the same tune McNabb was singing back in 2008. According to players ranging from Rams receiver Danny Anemdola to 49ers linebacker Dashon Goldson, nobody knew how overtime worked.
Amendola just told me he thought there was going to be a second overtime. Didn’t know it was over till he heard from an official.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) November 12, 2012
Goldson also added to the mass confusion, saying after the game that he literally didn’t think you could tie in an NFL game.
Now, these guy get a little more credit than McNabb does because for starters, they’ve not been in the league as ling as McNabb had been when he forgot the overtime rules. But more importantly, when NcNabb said he didn’t know the rules, he was forgetting rules that had been in place forever. This year the NFL changed overtimes rules for the first time in at least 30 years and made them a lot more confusing then they have to be.
Before it was just sudden death overtime, but now the rules have changed so that if the team that gets possession of the ball first scores anything less than a safety or a touchdown, the other team gets a shot to either tie the game up again or win it. These rules only apply to the very first drive of the game and after that it’s back to sudden death.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s still a lot harder than it has to be.
But these guys weren’t referencing the complexity of the first drive rules — they pretty much didn’t know the basic function of overtime as it has been for years. But regardless of the reason why, it was really the senseless penalties that caused this mess, so before you burn your rule book in angst, take a few pop shots at that fluid offensive line moving before the snap on two major plays in overtime for the Rams.