In the National Football League (NFL), a tied game occurs when a regular season game ends with both teams having an equal score after one ten minute overtime period. 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. NFL teams rarely play for ties. In general, tied games in the NFL are frowned upon by both teams and fans. Because tied games are rare, 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.
Tie games were frequent in the NFL from its inaugural season in 1920 through 1973, when the league did not have overtime during the regular season. During this period, the NFL had a total of 258 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.
Ties became uncommon after a 1974 rule change added one sudden death overtime period (15 minutes) to regular-season and preseason games if they were tied after regulation. Under the original overtime rules, any score by either team in overtime would win the game. The rules were modified in 2012; if the team that received the opening kickoff scores a field goal, the other team has an opportunity to tie or surpass that score, and if they are able to tie the score the next team to score any points wins. The overtime rules were further modified in 2017, shortening the extra period from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for preseason and regular season games.
There have been 24 tied games since the 1974 rule change; 17 ties occurred from 1974 to 2011 under the original overtime rules, while seven ties have occurred since the overtime rules were modified in 2012. Four seasons (1986, 1997, 2016, 2018) had two ties since the introduction of overtime. The most recent tie game occurred on September 16, 2018, when the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers played to a 29–29 tie. The Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are the only current NFL teams that have never recorded a tied game; the New England Patriots have never recorded a tie in an NFL game, but recorded nine ties as members of the American Football League (AFL). The Chicago Bears have played to 42 ties (all prior to 1974), the most of any NFL team, while the Green Bay Packers have recorded the most ties since the 1974 introduction of overtime, with six.
From 1920 to 1973, there were no overtime rules during the NFL regular season.
In 1974, the NFL introduced a single sudden death overtime period for all games that were tied at the end of regulation. During these seasons, a total of 494 regular season games went to overtime, 17 (3.4%) of which ended in ties.
|Team (#)||Denotes the number of times the team has tied a game since 1974.|
|No.||Date||Away team||Home team||Score||Note(s)|
|1||September 22, 1974||Pittsburgh Steelers||Denver Broncos||35–35||First regular-season overtime game in NFL history.|
|2||September 19, 1976||Los Angeles Rams||Minnesota Vikings||10–10||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.|
|3||November 26, 1978||Minnesota Vikings (2)||Green Bay Packers||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||Green Bay Packers (2)||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||14–14|
|5||October 4, 1981||New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||28–28||Jets kicker Pat Leahy missed a 48-yard field goal as time expired in overtime.|
|6||December 19, 1982||Green Bay Packers (3)||Baltimore Colts||20–20||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.|
|7||October 24, 1983||New York Giants||St. Louis Cardinals||20–20||Only overtime tie to date on Monday Night Football. Cardinals' Neil O'Donoghue missed three field-goal attempts in the extra period from 45, 20 and 42 yards, the last two in the final 66 seconds.|
|8||November 4, 1984||Philadelphia Eagles||Detroit Lions||23–23|
|9||October 19, 1986||San Francisco 49ers||Atlanta Falcons||10–10|
|10||December 7, 1986||St. Louis Cardinals (2)||Philadelphia Eagles (2)||10–10||2nd tie game in 1986 season. First season to have more than one tie game since overtime was started.|
|11||September 20, 1987||Denver Broncos (2)||Green Bay Packers (4)||17–17||Game played at Milwaukee County Stadium|
|12||October 2, 1988||Kansas City Chiefs||New York Jets (2)||17–17|
|13||November 19, 1989||Kansas City Chiefs (2)||Cleveland Browns||10–10||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.|
|14||November 16, 1997||Philadelphia Eagles (3)||Baltimore Ravens||10–10||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 game.|
|15||November 23, 1997||New York Giants (2)||Washington Redskins||7–7||First overtime tie in the league's Sunday night slot, and the only one so far in an ESPN-aired game (and in an NFL cable package, as NFL Network's Thursday Night Football has yet to carry a tied game). Redskins' Gus Frerotte injured himself by headbutting a stadium wall while celebrating his team's lone touchdown.|
|16||November 10, 2002||Atlanta Falcons (2)||Pittsburgh Steelers (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.|
In 2012, the league instituted a modified sudden death overtime system. A total of 83 regular season games went to overtime during these seasons, 5 (6.0%) of which ended in a tie.
|No.||Date||Away team||Home team||Score||Note(s)|
|1||November 11, 2012||St. Louis Rams (2)||San Francisco 49ers (2)||24–24||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. The Rams had a game-winning field goal taken away because of a penalty. Both teams missed field goal attempts in the overtime period.|
|2||November 24, 2013||Minnesota Vikings (3)||Green Bay Packers (5)||26–26||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. This was the first tied game in which both teams converted field goal attempts in the extra period.|
|3||October 12, 2014||Carolina Panthers||Cincinnati Bengals (2)||37–37||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|
|4||October 23, 2016||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals (3)||6–6||Lowest scoring tie since introduction of overtime. Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro and Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka missed consecutive field goals from short distances late in overtime after having each made one earlier in the overtime period, and Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer threw a Hail Mary pass that was knocked out of the endzone at the end of the overtime period, resulting in the 6–6 tie. As this game was broadcast on NBC, This was the first tie since 1997 to be carried on a network other than Fox.|
|5||October 30, 2016||Washington Redskins (2)||Cincinnati Bengals (3)||27–27||First overtime game played at Wembley Stadium in London, and the first overtime regular season tie game played outside the United States. Second time in the overtime era in which there were ties in two consecutive weeks, and first since 1997. Neither team scored in the overtime period. Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins missed a 34-yard field goal in overtime which would have won the game.|
In 2017, NFL shortened overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for preseason and regular season games with the intent of reducing the risk of injury, despite concerns that this would lead to more ties.
|No.||Date||Away team||Home team||Score||Note(s)|
|1||September 9, 2018||Pittsburgh Steelers (3)||Cleveland Browns (2)||21–21||Both Steelers kicker Chris Boswell and Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez missed field goals in the final two minutes of overtime. This was the first Week 1 tie since 1971 and the first tie to be televised on CBS since 1986. This tie ended a 17-game losing streak for the Browns that dated back to the 2016 season. |
|2||September 16, 2018||Minnesota Vikings (4)||Green Bay Packers (6)||29–29||Packers kicker Mason Crosby made what would have been a game-winning field goal as time expired in regulation, but the Vikings called timeout before the play and Crosby missed his second attempt, sending the game to overtime. Vikings kicker Daniel Carlson missed two field goals in overtime, one as time expired. This was the fourth time since 1974 that two games in the same season finished in ties (the latter three occurrences featuring tie games in consecutive weeks). |
|Season||No. of ties|