Every Year, NFL Fans Discover That a Football Game Can End in a Tie


The Google Trends data on searches for “can you tie in football” and “can you tie in the NFL,” with the dates of tied games in the time period shown.

By Daniel O’Boyle

In 2008, the 1-8 Cincinnati Bengals traveled to Philadelphia to meet the 5-4 Eagles. Although the Eagles would make the NFC Championship Game that year, this wasn’t a game that seemed like it would be of serious importance.

The game isn’t famous for any playoff implications, however. Lacking a succinct name, it is perhaps best known as, “The game where Donovan McNabb learned ties exist,” after the Eagles quarterback admitted he thought a second overtime was coming.

McNabb isn’t alone. According to Google Trend, for every tied game in the last 10 years of the NFL, you can count on people Googling, “Can You Tie In Football?”

The first blue spike in searches about NFL ties on the graph is the aforementioned 2008 Bengals-Eagles game. After that, there were no ties in the NFL for four years and no major spikes, but a few minor increases in searches that tend to be caused by either high-profile overtime games or by soccer.

Ties returned to the NFL with unusual frequency since 2012, when the Rams and 49ers played out a 24-24 affair. Despite occurring in four of the last five seasons, fans continue to ask whether ties are in the NFL rulebook, with large spikes for each game.

Googling questions about ties reached new heights in October of 2016, when we saw ties on nationally-broadcast games within a single week, yet higher than ever queries about it.

If an NFL quarterback on a $100 million contract didn’t know about tied games, maybe it’s too much to expect from viewers who saw recent tied games to remember.


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