If there’s one thing all red-blooded, chest-pounding football fans love, it’s a tie game. Nothing gets the heart-pumping like a contest ending without a winner, and it looked as if Sunday’s back-and-forth affair between the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles would grant such a result. The defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles got on the board first in overtime with a field goal, but the Titans strung together a strong drive in response. They overcame multiple fourth-downs, and the final one occurred in Philadelphia territory. Rather than attempting a game-tying field goal, Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel decided to go for it. It was the right move, and, after converting, Marcus Mariota found Corey Davis in the end zone for the winning touchdown.
This wasn’t the only occurrence on Sunday in which fans were robbed of a tie game, as the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans conspired to do the same. The two teams see-sawed through an overtime of their own, and after the Colts struck first with a field goal, the Texans responded in kind to knot the score at 34-34. The Colts’ ensuing drive petered out, and they faced a fourth down on their own 43-yard line with 27 seconds left on the clock. With four yards to pick up the first down, the obvious play was to punt and effectively end the game with a tie. But Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich had another idea. (It was a bad idea).
The Colts went for it, and the risky call resulted in an incomplete pass from Andrew Luck. This handed Houston the ball close to field goal range, and, after one completion, the Texans were able to kick the game-winner.
Even if they had converted that fourth down, Luck and the Colts would have had to go a long way to get into scoring position with almost no time left on the clock. The only explanation for Reich’s decision to go for it is that he abhors ties, and he was punished for it.
Sadly, fans were punished too, as we had to witness two definitive results. Oh, what could have been were it not for the hubris of these coaches. The NFL owes us two tie games.