BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 10/25/2016

Only NFL game since 1940 to go OT without TD

In only five games in the NFL since 1940 have two teams played to a tie without scoring a touchdown. Seattle vs. Arizona Sunday night was the first such contest to reach overtime.

The Seahawks and Cardinals played to a unique tie Sunday night in Arizona. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

One of the first statements out of Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s mouth Sunday night summarized how baffled he was over the Seahawks’ unlikely 6-6 tie with the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I’m having a hard time getting my brain around this,” Carroll said. “I don’t think I have ever been in a tie before and my brain doesn’t really know where to go.”

Little wonder. Discounting soccer, human brains (American ones, anyway) are not programmed to process ties. Before the Seahawks and Cardinals knotted after four dramatic quarters and an epic overtime, the NFL’s last tie was in 2014 when Carolina and Cincinnati stalemated at 37-37.

The NFL instituted its current overtime rules in 2012. Since then, only four games have ended without resolution. The 49ers and Rams drew 24-24 Nov. 11, 2012, and the Packers-Vikings game Nov. 24, 2013 deadlocked 26-26. Then came Cincinnati-Carolina two years ago and now we have Seattle 6, Arizona 6.

No one knows when we’ll see anything like that one again.

Between 1920 and 1973, 258 NFL games ended sans resolution, including a record 17 in 1920 when 0-0 contests were not uncommon. But since 1974, when the league introduced its first version of overtime, there have been 21. Subtract the four since 2012, and only 17 others since ended without a winner or loser.

Until Sunday night, the Seahawks never played to a tie. The New England Patriots, to cite one example, played to a tie nine times as a member of the American Football League (1960-70), but not one since joining the NFL for the 1971 season.

The Chicago Bears played in 42 ties between 1920-73, but haven’t played once since. Jacksonville and the Houston Texas remain utter strangers to tie games.

What should have perplexed Carroll even more than a tie is the fact that since 1940, the first year for which relevant data is available, there have only been five games – including regular season and playoffs, and also including regulation and overtime – that ended in a tie without either team scoring a touchdown.

Carroll might have been even more astonished had he known that Seattle-Arizona Sunday night is the only NFL game since 1940 that went to OT and didn’t feature a touchdown. These are the five games we’re talking about:

Year Date Teams Result TDs Skinny / Tying Score
1940 Sept. 15 Chi-Det 0-0 0 Cardinals 14 total yards, 0 passing
1943 Nov. 7 Det-NYG 0-0 0 NYG 3 first downs, 3 passing yards
1970 Nov. 22 STL-KC 6-6 0 Jim Bakken (STL) 14 FG 4th
1972 Nov. 5 STL-Phi 6-6 0 Tom Dempsey (Phi) 30 FG 4th
2016 Oct. 23 Sea-AZ 6-6 0 Stephen Hauschka (Sea) 36 FG OT

As you can see, Seattle-Arizona is the lowest-scoring tie since Nov. 5, 1972, when St. Louis vs. Philadelphia ended 6-6 at Veterans Stadium. Beyond that, only one other tie since the 1970 merger ended with neither team scoring in double figures. That was the 7-7 draw between Washington and the New York Giants Nov. 23, 1997.

Aside from the five games referenced above, the following are the lowest-scoring ties since the NFL instituted overtime in 1974:

Year Date Teams Result TDs Tying Score
1997 Nov. 23 WAS-NYG 7-7 2 Chris Calloway (NYG) 4 TD catch 3rd
1976 Sept. 19 Min-LA 10-10 2 J. Bertelsen (Rams) 1 TD run OT
1978 Nov. 26 GB-Min 10-10 2 A. Rashad (Minn) 10 TD catch OT
1986 Oct. 19 Atl-SF 10-10 2 S. Stamps (Atl) 39 TD catch 4th
1986 Dec. 7 Phi-STL 10-10 2 Roy Green (Stl) 48 TD catch in OT
1989 Nov. 19 Cle-KC 10-10 2 Nick Lowrey (KC) 41 FG 4th
1997 Nov. 16 Bal-Phl 10-10 2 Charlie Garner (Phil) 2 TD run in OT

Colleague Art Thiel wrote late Sunday that even a game without resolution can become a thoroughly riveting spectacle. Seattle-Arizona had the added benefit of featuring one of the five rarest outcomes since George Halas introduced the T-formation more than 75 years ago.

Wilson “healthy,” but . . .

Carroll and QB Russell Wilson were both asked about Wilson’s lack of mobility Sunday night. Wilson had one rushing attempt on a third-and-one from the Seattle 26-yard line in the first quarter. The Cardinals dropped him for a two-yard loss. Asked about Wilson’s immobility, Carroll became animated.

“I don’t know how much harder you can ask a guy to play,” Carroll replied without exactly answering the question.

Wilson insisted nothing was amiss, even though he hasn’t been the same quarterback since a right high ankle sprain in Week 1 and a sprained MCL in his left knee in Week 3.

“You guys keep asking me. I feel great. There’s times where some games, I run, scramble and make a play,” said Wilson. “Sometimes I don’t, and that’s whether I’m healthy or not. I feel great.”

Maybe so. But in the first 64 games of his career (through 2015), Wilson failed to throw for a TD or run for one only six times. In eight other games, he both threw a TD pass and ran for one.

This year, Wilson has already played three games without a passing TD or a rushing TD: Sept. 18 vs. the Rams, Oct. 16 vs. Atlanta and Sunday at Arizona.

Missing kicks

Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro (24 yards) and Seattle’s Stephen Hauschka (28) missed game-winning kicks in overtime Sunday night. The last game in which opposing kickers both whiffed from 29 or fewer yards in OT occurred Dec. 24, 2005, between the Falcons and Buccaneers.

Atlanta’s Todd Peterson (a Seahawk from 1995-99) had a 28-yard attempt blocked at the 13:34 mark. Then Tampa Bay’s Matt Bryant missed a 27-yarder at 10:08. After three punts, Bryant hit a 41-yard FG with 15 seconds left to win the game for the Bucs.

In 41 seasons, Seahawks’ kickers have missed field goals of 30 or fewer yards 26 times. Only two of those misses occurred in overtime games and Hauschka shanked both. His 24-yard attempt Jan. 1, 2012 near the end of the third quarter was blocked. That also came against Arizona, in a 23-20 OT loss.

So what happened Sunday night makes Hauschka the only kicker in Seahawks history to botch a field goal attempt of less than 30 yards in an overtime period.



  • d3s

    That was really a horrible performance by the offensive line! Penalties killed multiple big plays, Wilson was harassed almost instantly after the snap.

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