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If the NFL kept a record for such things, the Bengals-Eagles game on Sunday might have earned the moniker for “Worst All-time Ending to a Football Game.”

That’s because both Cincinnati and Philadelphia decided to quit in overtime (as opposed to, you know, trying to win the game). They instead settled for a pathetic 23-23 tie, with the Eagles punting instead of attempting a long field goal with 19 seconds remaining and the Bengals simply kneeling the ball to end contest.

Let’s start with Philadelphia, which had the ball at the Bengals’ 41-yard line and looked to attempt a 58-yard, game-winning field goal. But the Eagles committed a false start penalty, moving back 5 yards for a 63-yarder — no problem, right? Eagles kicker Jake Elliott has a career long of 61 yards, so it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility he could extend it by 2 yards.

But Philadelphia elected instead to punt the ball. It sailed 40 yards and landed at the 11. One play later, Bengals running back Joe Mixon ran up the gut for 9 yards. So ended an overtime that featured six punts but not a single point.

MORE: The Falcons had a 99% chance to win vs. Bears and Cowboys, but lost both games

Eagles coach Doug Pederson explained after the game that he didn’t want to risk giving Cincinnati and quarterback Joe Burrow the ball near midfield if Elliott’s kick missed. Burrow to that point completed 31 of 44 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns, but only one over 20 yards.

Quarterback Carson Wentz (29 of 47, 225 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) backed up his coach’s questionable decision after the game:

“I understand the decision,” Wentz said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a tie before. Ties are not fun. We have to smarter and cleaner. I’ve got to be better.”

Cincinnati’s decision to end the game on a fruitless run isn’t much better, but at least understandable considering the small chance the play would result in a score. Even so, why not give your receivers a chance to get up field and air it out? Worst-case scenario, you’re sacked inside the end zone or throw a pick-six; best case, you score or at least get a defensive pass interference to give you one more shot at a score.

Neither the Eagles nor the Bengals suffered a loss — and yet both teams ended up losers.

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September 28, 2020
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