History was made in the National Football League today, as for only the second time in the overtime era we have seen two straight weeks featuring a game ending in a tie. Fortunately, today’s game between Cincinnati & Washington was considerably more entertaining than last week’s showdown with Seattle & Arizona. American sports fans hate ties as much as they hate commercials, missing their favorite team’s game, and bathing.
However, there have been many memorable sporting events that ended without a winner & a loser. Today, I list my ten favorite!
10. Oregon State 0, Oregon 0 (November 19,1983)
Let’s be honest, the state of Oregon wasn’t exactly known for college football glory prior to Phil Knight opening up his wallet & making the Ducks one of the NCAA’s best organized programs. But this was ridiculous even by Oregon football standards. The 2-8 Beavers traveled into a torrential downpour to play the 4-6 Ducks in Eugene. Eleven turnovers & four missed field goals later, the two schools produced what would be the last scoreless tie in NCAA football history. I doubt there’s a banner celebrating the Toilet Bowl next to all of Oregon’s bowl banners collected since then.
9. New York 7, Washington 7 (November 23, 1997)
There’s nothing funny about head injuries. But when your quarterback gives himself one when he headbutts a wall while celebrating a touchdown…well, it’s still not funny for you because that was the only touchdown Washington would score in a game that ended in a tie. It is funny for the rest of us though, and it’s the only way this game ends up making the list.
8. Washington 27, Cincinnati 27 (October 30, 2016)
I said it on Twitter & I’ll say it here too: English people love sports that can end in ties, so Washington vs. Cincinnati was the best present we could have given them. It was a well-played game too, for the most part. Mike Nugent’s missed extra point ended up being the difference maker in the first memorable NFL game to take place in London.
7. Notre Dame 0, Army 0 (November 9, 1946)
Some historians consider this to be the greatest game ever played, but let’s be honest: 0-0 sucks. I like defense as much as the next guy, but there has to be at least a couple of points on the board for a game to be great. #1 & #2 in the country came into this game averaging over 30 points per game, so most observers expected this to be an offensive classic. They got the opposite, a defensive classic. Notre Dame ended up winning the national title according to the writers, but Army still credits themselves with the 1946 national championship because that’s what all these schools do. Ever take a look at the Wikipedia page on the college football national championship history? It’s a doozy.
6. Carolina 37, Cincinnati 37 (October 12, 2014)
The highest scoring tie in NFL history! Both teams scored field goals on their first possession in overtime, meaning that the game could have had a winner if not for the new rules the NFL made where the game couldn’t end with only one team touching the ball if they kicked a field goal. By the way, the Bengals have been involved in three out of the last six NFL tie games, because of course they have. Kind of sums up the Marvin Lewis Era when you think about it.
5. Atlanta 34, Pittsburgh 34 (November 10, 2002)
Michael Vick led the Falcons back from seventeen points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and fifteen minutes later the Steelers ended up one yard short of winning the game thanks to a fifty yard pass from Tommy Maddox to Plaxico Burress that got the Steelers down to the one yard line. The XFL MVP threw for 478 yards & 4 touchdowns that day, cementing himself as the greatest Steeler quarterback of the 2000s.
4. Florida 31, Florida State 31 (November 26, 1994)
#4 Florida had a 31-3 lead on #7 Florida State heading into the fourth quarter and pretty much everybody thought the game was over. Then future ESPN talking head Danny Kanell (the second QB on this list twice, as he was the Giants QB for #9) led the Seminoles down the field for four touchdowns to tie the game. They nearly won the darn thing too but ran out of time. The Choke at Doak goes down in history for tying the NCAA record for biggest comeback in the 4th quarter and for having one of the coolest game names.
3. American League 7, National League 7 (July 9, 2002)
The impact of this game lasts to this day, as countless Cubs fans have been whining & complaining about how the Cubs don’t get homefield advantage in the World Series this year because it’s decided by the All-Star Game. Why is that a thing? Because the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie thanks to both teams running out of players. Bud Selig didn’t want that to happen again, so they decided to have something of importance on the line so it wouldn’t. I tend to think people make too big a deal of this, and in this case it’s not like the Cubs have played well at home in the World Series anyway, so home field advantage isn’t really a thing here.
2. Notre Dame 10, Michigan State 10 (November 19, 1966)
Notre Dame was 8-0 and ranked #1 in the country when they traveled to East Lansing to face the Spartans before they were known as “Sparty”. Or maybe it was still a thing then, I don’t really know. Michigan State was #2 with a 9-0 record, so the Game of the Century hype was out in full force. ND tied the game early in the 4th quarter, then when they got the ball back with a chance to drive towards field goal range, ND coach Ara Parseghian opted to run down the clock and take the tie. He figured the writers would still rank Notre Dame ahead of Michigan State if there was a tie, and he didn’t want to risk turning the ball over and giving the Spartans a chance to win. It was a cowardly move, but the right move as Notre Dame was ranked #1 in the final polls. Michigan State did get to share the national championship though, because college football championships used to be really confusing. We already discussed this.
1. NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Sting ends in a 45 minute draw (March 27, 1988)
Jim Crockett Promotions’ decision to go head to head against WrestleMania resulted in the creation of what would become WCW’s most enduring icon: Sting. Sting entered the NWA as part of Bill Watts’ UWF crew, and while most of those guys would fall by the wayside, NWA brass saw star potential in the face-painted blonde guy with a nice physique and ability to connect with the fans. So they put him out there with Ric Flair for forty-five minutes & Flair did all he could do to make Sting a star. Sting & Flair would be pretty well connected to each other as friends & enemies (mostly enemies) for the rest of pro wrestling’s run on TBS. All due to forty-five minutes where a young buck was put on the same level as one of the greatest of all time.