Sports | November 15, 2021 11:07 am

Najee Harris Joins List of NFL Players Who Didn’t Know a Game Can End in Tie

The Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers went to overtime and ended up tied 16-16 on Sunday

Najee Harris of the Steelers looks on against the Detroit Lions
Najee Harris of the Steelers looks on against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field.
Joe Sargent/Getty

Yesterday, for the first time since early December in 2020, the Detroit Lions played a football game and didn’t lose.

They didn’t win either, but at least now the Lions know they won’t be the first team in NFL history to go 0-17.

“Well, that was bittersweet,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said on Sunday afternoon after Detroit and the Pittsburgh Steelers tied 16-16 at Heinz Field following a scoreless overtime. “I don’t know how to feel about that necessarily.”

Pittsburgh rookie running back Najee Harris expressed similar sentiments after Sunday’s game, although he didn’t know how to feel because he was unaware that an NFL game could end in a tie … despite being an NFL player.

“I didn’t even know you could tie in the NFL,” Harris said, via ESPN. “In my mind, I was sitting on the bench saying, ‘I’ve got another quarter to go.’ But someone came to me and said, ‘That’s it.’ I’ve never had a tie in my life before.”

To be fair to Harris, he is far from the only player to admit to not realizing that an NFL game could end in a tie after playing in an overtime game that ended with both teams knotted up. Donovan McNabb is probably the most famous example of a player not knowing the rules, but look no further than the Detroit sideline and Lions running back Godwin Igwebuike to find someone from yesterday’s game who could sympathize with Harris.

“It’s nuts,” Igwebuike said after the non-win. “I’m back there like, ‘Yo, how many overtimes can we do?’ And they’re like, ‘Three’… I hear, ‘Two, one,’ and we were like, ‘Yo, whatever’s going on, we’re about to just put our all into it.’”

The Lions could have spared both Harris and Igwebuike from their confusion by winning the game in overtime, but Detroit kicker Ryan Santoso, filling in for injured Austin Seibert, saw his 48-yard field goal attempt flutter well short during the extra period.

Santoso’s missed kick, coupled with plenty of blown opportunities and poor plays from both teams, led to the NFL’s first tie of the season, but probably not the last. Since 2018, there has been at least one tie every year and five of 62 overtime games have resulted in a tie (8%) since the NFL shortened overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes in 2017.

“A tie in the NFL always feels like a loss when you get to the locker room because you’re not adding one to the win column,” Steelers linebacker Joe Schobert said after Sunday’s game. “It’s a half-game. It might make a difference in the end. To let it slip away when you’re that close definitely hurts.”

It might for the Steelers (5-3-1), but the Lions (0-8-1) will take it.