Down to the wire

History Published on : 11/15/2010

The New York Jets had another overtime “first” on Sunday when they downed the Cleveland Browns 26-20 with just 16 seconds left in the sudden death period. New York became the first team in league history to win road games in overtime in consecutive weeks. The Jets defeated the Detroit Lions at Ford Field last week by a score of 23-20.

Almost to the day 36 years ago, New York became the first team ever to win a regular season game in overtime. The NFL instituted new overtime rules in 1974 to reduce the number of ties in the regular season. The first sudden death showdown came on September 22 in a game between Pittsburgh and Denver. However, neither the Steelers nor Broncos scored so the game ended in a 35-35 tie.

Then on November 10, 1974, the Jets and New York Giants finished regulation knotted at 20-20. The Giants won the toss but kicker Pete Gogolak missed a 42-yard field goal thereby giving the Jets a try. History was made when quarterback Joe Namath capped a drive with a five-yard touchdown toss to running back Emerson Boozer midway through overtime for the win.

Incidentally, Santonio Holmes touchdown play on Sunday with 16 seconds to play in OT marked the third-latest touchdown in a regular season overtime game.

Through Week 10 of the 2010 regular season there have been 458 total regular season overtime games. (13 through week 10 of the 2010 regular season)

Overtime in the NFL

Since the NFL instituted overtime in the regular season in 1974, there have been 458 overtime games including 13 already this season. Here’s how the games have been decided over the years.

323 - Decided by a field goal 
116 - Decided by a touchdown
2 - Decided by a safety 
17 - Ended in a tie. Last time: Nov. 16, 2008,Philadelphia 13 at Cincinnati 13.