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The Curious Case of the Japan/Mexico Tie

July 11, 2014

If you’ve been keeping up with the 2014 IFAF U19 World Championship, you would have noticed something odd yesterday:  a tie.

Let’s give a lot of credit to Mexico. Trailing 24-7 at the half, they played a strong defensive second half and put themselves in a position to tie the game late. Down by 7 with 1:38 to go and 50 yards to travel, they made it to the Japan 34 and faced a 3rd and 4 when J. Ramirez rushed for a 34-yard touchdown with 49 seconds left. The extra point was good.

The kickoff was a touchback, and Japan rushed twice and ran out the clock.

I like to think that the rules regarding overtime were gone over before hand, and that both teams (at least coaching staffs) knew it. But even if that’s the case, it’s still common for players and coaches to be confused about these things, even in the NFL. There was a game during the 2013 or 2012 NFL season that was tied at the end of overtime and was called a tie, but some of the players thought they were suppose to just continue playing.

The reason I question it is this:  why did Mexico kick the extra point instead of going for two? Mexico had already lost to the United States, and even though the USA still had to play Germany, being 0-1-1 wasn’t the ideal situation for Mexico if they hoped to win the group. It seems like Mexico thought a tie would mean overtime, as many, if not all, of the fans did.

Some people may look at Japan and ask why they ran out the clock instead of trying to go 80 yards in 49 seconds (a lofty task). At first glance, it seems like Japan may have been expecting overtime too. But in reality, they were going to have to beat the USA to win the group anyway, a goal that is still attainable at 1-0-1.

I didn’t see the game and the video hasn’t been uploaded yet, so I don’t know if anyone seemed confused at the end of the game. Maybe I’m misinterpreting everything and each team understood what was happening. I hope that’s the case.

So why no overtime in group play? I’m not sure I’ve seen an IFAF game end in a tie before, so it’s kinda odd. One possible reason is the fact that they are starting the first games at 8:00 pm and the second at 11:00. Overtime in IFAF matches is like NCAA football:  each team gets one chance per overtime. The game could conceivable go on for hours. My guess is they were trying to avoid having to start that second game any later than they had to.

Overall, I’m not happy about the tie, but as long as both teams knew the rules, then I’m about to accept it as an outcome. And congrats to Mexico for making the game the most interesting of the tournament so far.

Here are the tie breaking procedures for the group games:
– Head-to-head win-loss
– Head-to-head point differential
– Number of TDs in head-to-head games
– Total points allowed
– Total TDs allowed
– Coin toss

Right now Canada and Austria top Group A at 2-0-0 each, and they play Sunday. If the game ties, Canada will win the group.

Group B has the USA at 2-0-0 and Japan at 1-0-1, and they also play Sunday. If that game ties, USA will win the group.

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