As is generally the custom following the few occasions a NFL game ends in a tie, the question that inevitably becomes the query of the day centers on the league’s rules for overtime and how games are settled in extra time.
So it was no surprise that Rams coach Jeff Fisher and his team and Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and his team were bombarded with questions after Sunday’s 24-24 tie and again on Monday afternoon with some time to reflect.
Although the NFL has tweaked the overtime rules from what they used to be, now giving both teams more of an equal opportunity, the fact that a game can still end with no result clearly isn’t terribly popular among the players.
“I think anyone would like to keep playing,” quarterback
The former overtime rules were straight sudden death where the first team to score would win the game. But after years of protest about how a simple coin toss could make all the difference, the league began experimenting with a new system in the postseason in recent years.
The new system gives both teams a possession unless the first team with the ball scores a touchdown on the initial drive of overtime. If that team scores a field goal, the other team gets a possession and can win with a touchdown or keep the game going with a field goal of its own. From then, it becomes sudden death.
Of course, in this case, it’s not necessarily the overtime rules that are frustrating for the Rams so much as the fact that it’s still possible to have a game end without a victor.
“I don’t really have an answer,” receiver
A number of players on both sides actually expressed surprise when the game ended Sunday in San Francisco without going to another overtime. Most players don’t spend much time thinking about ties.
According to Fisher, who has spent many years on the league’s competition committee, overtime and methods for ending games have long been a major topic of conversation.
With the league’s emphasis on player safety, though, there is still a lot of consideration given to not having the players on the field too long.
“The issue is just the length of game,” Fisher said. “This was a long game. These are two teams that played an extra quarter. So that’s the issue. We talked about the college rule; we talked about a lot of other things. Clearly, it doesn’t end once you get to the postseason but every four or five years it happens. The standings look a little different but there are teams that will get in because of ties and teams that don’t.”
QUICK GETTING PHYSICAL: When legendary Rams receiver Torry Holt paid a visit to St. Louis during the summer for training camp, he was welcomed by Fisher and did his best to provide the Rams young wideouts some guidance and instruction.
Impressed by the size and strength of rookie receiver
On Sunday in San Francisco, Quick started to show signs of becoming the receiver Holt wants to see.
As cornerback Chris Culliver approached the line and did his best to jam Quick at the line of scrimmage, the 6’3, 220 pound rookie swatted him away like a gnat, causing Culliver to fall down and creating nothing but open space in which to run.
Quarterback Sam Bradford found Quick a moment later and he caught it in stride, breaking out another stiff arm on the approaching safety as he bulled his way into the end zone.
“It was a go (route) and I was physical at the line with the DB,” Quick said. “Sam saw me early and hit me early. And then I just wanted it more (than the safety).”
The 36-yard touchdown was the first of Quick’s career, an achievement he was pleased with but not one that made him happier than the continued development of his physical approach to playing receiver.
“That’s where I am getting better,” Quick said. “I am getting better at being big and physical and using my body to my advantage.”
It remains to be seen whether Quick’s big play will earn him more work in the coming weeks. He’s hopeful that it will but either way, he said he’s going to continue working to ensure when the time does come that he’s on the field regularly, he’s putting his imposing size to good use.
“I mean, just whatever happens I feel like I’m going to get better at practice and if I’m in the rotation then that will be great too,” Quick said.
SAFFOLD RETURNS: Left tackle
Saffold suffered the injury in week 2 against Washington and had been out ever since but started progressing toward a return when the team was in London.
While Saffold wasn’t participating in practice like receiver Danny Amendola, he was doing some work on the side and had himself set up to get back in practice over the bye week.
Starting during the bye, Saffold did begin working on a limited basis in practice. He carried that through last week but his status remained in doubt until about Saturday night.
It was then that Saffold simply couldn’t stand the thought of missing another game.
“Today I knew (I’d play) just because that’s how I am,” Saffold said. “There comes a time where you just have to tell everybody ‘Listen, I’m playing.” But going into Saturday I didn’t know but after listening to coach that night, all I wanted to do was play. I wasn’t going to try to do anything otherwise. It fired me up. It was crazy he didn’t even say anything. I was just so happy to be back in that team meeting that I was ready to go.”
Fisher said Saffold held up well, all things considered.
“He returned and was probably a little rusty against a good defensive front,” Fisher said. “But he finished the game and didn’t have any issues so I think with a good week of practice this week he’ll be back to where he was.”
The call for Johnson to step into the lineup made him a starter for the first time in his young career. According to coaches’ review of the tape, Johnson had five tackles.
At first glance, Fisher was pleased with how Johnson fared.
“He wasn’t nervous, he loves to play,” Fisher said. “We backed down on his special teams responsibilities because he was starting. He has the talent to play corner in this league.”