Sitting here watching overtime of the Saints-Bears game, and the ref's explanation before the coin toss caught my attention.
After going over the normal overtime rules, here's what official Mike Carey had to say:
"If there is no winner after the first period, the game will end in a tie."
I could be wrong, but I don't believe this has previously been part of the ref's explanation. I'm almost positive it wasn't mentioned in the now infamous Eagles-Bengals game from a month ago. NFL Network play-by-play man Bob Papa apparently was thinking the same thing I was.
"Well Mike Carey gave the normal rulings and then made sure everyone knew that if it ends in a tie, it’s a tie,” Papa said as Cris Collinsworth chuckled.
The game just ended, with the Bears taking home a 27-24 victory. Chicago improves to 8-6 on the season and stays alive for a playoff spot. The Bears are in second place in the NFC North, behind the Vikings, who are 8-5 and play the Cardinals Sunday. The Saints are not mathematically eliminated, but at 7-7, their season is pretty much over.
When I watch games, I always wonder what Eagles fans would be thinking, so here are some more observations:
For much of the second half, the Bears' offense looked completely inept. Their first four possessions of the second half: interception, punt, turnover on downs, interception. Then with 3:05 left in the fourth, Kyle Orton somehow led the Bears' offense 60 yards down the field to set up the game-tying field goal. In overtime, Orton and the Bears set up the game-winner on their first possession. How does an offense that looked so bad get back-to-back scores like that?
Good to see the Eagles aren't the only team that has struggled in short yardage this season. With about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Saints' offense faced a third-and-one down 21-17 at the Chicago 38-yard line. They were stuffed on a run to the fullback on their first attempt. And then on fourth down, another run outside and a 5-yard loss. I imagine there was more than one Saints fan saying "We have the possible MVP at quarterback and we call back-to-back running plays when we need one yard with the season on the line?"
I was in school at Penn State during what was probably the football program's worst stretch ever. The kicker for the Nittany Lions during that period? Robbie Gould. In college, Gould went 39-for-61 on field goals, about 64 percent. In the NFL, he's converted 105 of 123 field-goal attempts, about 85 percent. Gould hit the game-tying 28-yarder with time running out in regulation and the game-winner from 35 yards out in OT.
The Bears' offense took over with 5:29 left in the fourth quarter and a 21-17 lead. Time to run some clock right? Think again. The Bears called back-to-back passing plays, the second of which resulted in an Orton interception. New Orleans took a 24-21 lead on its ensuing drive. I wonder if the play-calling there would have been criticized on Chicago sports-talk radio had the Bears lost the game.
And finally, a wild play near the end of regulation. The Bears' offense decided to run one final play with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter from the Saints' 9-yard line. Down by three, the plan was to take a quick shot at the end zone and try to win it in regulation. If there's nothing there, throw it away and kick the field goal. However, Orton didn't see anything, stepped up in the pocket and was sacked with two seconds left. In a bizarre irony, as Collinsworth pointed out, had the Saints not sacked Orton, time would have run out and New Orleans would have won one of the strangest endings in NFL history.