In the 40 years since overtime was created in the NFL, just 20 games have ended in a tie.
Inevitably, after each tie, there are questions about whether the NFL should evaluate its rules on tied games. The most common suggestions are teams play until someone wins, or that the NFL use college rules, where teams line up at the opponent’s 25-yard line at the start of each possession.
Rivera has no problem with the way the NFL handles overtime games.
“I think the way it’s set up is fair,” Rivera said. “I just think that you play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, you play it to a certain point and it’s over, unless it’s the playoffs, which this team has had some history (with). I think what happened (Sunday) is all part of the game.
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“It’s easy to say, oh you should do it like they do it, but why? This is how the game is, this is how the game is designed to be played. Now all of a sudden we’re going to change the rules. Why don’t we just play like that all the time? Everyone starts at the 30-yard line, or whatever the rule is, and you get to score there and there’s no kickoff and you just start there again.
“The game is designed a certain way. I kind of like the way it is … the game is about the kickoff, the return, punting the ball. And I think that’s what the (college) overtime takes away.”
Rivera reiterated his confidence with deciding to kick a field goal on fourth-and-1 in overtime rather than going for it. He said it was a long 1 yard – closer to 1 3/4 yards – and the Panthers do not have a fullback on the roster with Mike Tolbert hurt and Richie Brockel on injured reserve.
“But I’m still confident because we’re still in good position,” Rivera said. “The half-game could end up being the difference. That’s the way I look at.”
The NFL treats ties as half wins. If the Panthers end the season with 10 wins, 10 1/2 wins would count toward their winning percentage, which would be .656 rather than .625 for 10 wins.
In 2008, the Eagles had a 13-13 tie with Cincinnati late in the regular season, and Philadelphia finished at 9-6-1. Three other NFC teams finished with nine wins, but the Eagles’ half-win gave them the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC.