The NFL's 32 owners passed five rule changes for the 2012 season at the Owners Meetings on Wednesday which will impact instant replay and overtime.
Here is a look at the five rule changes that were agreed upon:
1. Sudden-Death Procedure In Overtime
After the Saints beat the Vikings in the opening possession of overtime of the 2009 NFC Championship, the NFL instituted a new set of rules for overtime designed to give both teams a better opportunity to get at least one possession before sudden-death rules went into effect. However, these overtime rules only applied to the playoffs and the traditional sudden-death format remained in place for the regular season games. Until now.
Starting in 2012, the overtime rules for the postseason will now apply in the regular season. The reason is for more fair competition, according to the proposal.
In overtime, the team that receives the ball first can win the game on the first possession if they score a touchdown. If they kick a field goal, the other team will get an opportunity to tie with a field goal or win the game with a touchdown. If both teams have the same score after each has had a possession, then it becomes sudden death - next team to score wins. There are a few exceptions. One is if the team that kicks off first scores on a safety. The other is if the team that kicks off recovers an onside kick then any score - field goal or touchdown - would win.
2. Just Don't Kick A Loose Ball
No player may deliberately kick any loose ball or ball in player's possession, which incurs a 10-yard penalty. The amendment to the rule that passed on Wednesday is that if applicable, it will now cost a team a loss of down and 10 yards. According to the proposal, this is designed to prevent a team from benefitting from an illegal act.
3. The Giants In The Super Bowl Amendment
In Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots ran a play with 17 seconds remaining. The Giants were penalized for having 12 men on the field. The 12th man was running to the sideline as the ball was snapped, but it brought to light a potential loophole that teams in the future could expose. Why wouldn't a defense deliberately keep 12 men on the field in a similar situation? You have an extra defender. You're running off valuable clock time. And the penalty would only be 5 yards.
The amendment that passed Wednesday makes too many men in the formation a dead-ball foul. If a team has more than 11 players in its formation for more than three seconds or if a team has more than 11 players and the snap is imminent, the official must call the play dead and penalize the team 5 yards. This will, according to the proposal, prevent the "potential for competitive abuse."
4. Defending Defenseless Defenders
Player safety has been at the forefront of Roger Goodell's tenure as the NFL's Commissioner. The NFL has made a number of positive strides when it comes to protecting players, but some defensive players believe that all of the recently implemented safety rules apply to offensive players and leave them at times vulnerable. The NFL approved an amendment to the unnecessary roughness rule to include that a recipient of a crackback block is also a defenseless player. It also more clearly defined what the protection is for the recipient of a blindside block. The penalty for unnecessary roughness is 15 yards.
5. Instant Replay/Turnovers
The NFL expanded what will be automatically reviewed under the instant replay rules. All turnovers will now be reviewed by the replay booth official who will signal to the referee if a review needs to be initiated. This will, according to the proposal, provide "more flexibility to coaches in the use of their challenges." If a coach initiates a challenge when he is not supposed to, the penalty is 15 yards. Prior to this, all scoring plays were automatically reviewed. Any turnover that was not within the final two minutes of a half had to be challenged by a coach prior to this amendment.
Here are the two rule changes that were voted down:
1. Instant Replay/Removing The Referee
It was proposed that instead of having the referee on the field make the final call on any plays reviewed by instant replay, the entire process would take part in the replay booth where a replay official would make the final call. This was designed to reduce the time consumed by a review. However, the instant replay review is a maximum 60 seconds in length.
2. Horse Collar On A Quarterback
The current rule regarding "horse collar" tackles reads that players are prohibited from grabbing the inside collar of the back of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling down the runner. The proposal was to extend the rule to passers. Horse collar tackles are allowed on quarterbacks who are in the pocket. The reason for the proposal was player safety, but the risk for injury didn't appear to be that much greater so it was voted down.
There were also seven bylaw proposals that were voted on Wednesday. One was passed and the rest were tabled for future discussion.
The one bylaw proposal that passed made Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day (when it's on a day other than Sunday) business days for the purpose of player personnel transactions. Teams playing on those days in the past could not make a roster change prior to 4 PM (EST). This now gives them the same roster options are other teams.
Here is a look at some of the bylaw proposals that were tabled until the NFL Spring Meetings in Chicago which will be held in May.
1. Moving the trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8.
2. Expanding the offseason roster to 90 players instead of 80.
3. If the offseason roster limit remains at 80, there will be only one roster cutdown in the preseason instead of two.
4. For the 2012 season only, the final roster cutdown date will be moved up one day because the first game of the 2012 regular season is being held on a Wednesday (instead of a Thursday).
5. Allowing one player who is placed on Injured Reserve after the first regular season game to come back later in the same season.
6. Allowing an extra roster spot for a player who is inactive due to a concussion.
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