Thursday, March 29, 2012

NFL Annual Meeting: Rules Changes and Redux

The NFL’s annual meeting wrapped up yesterday and I wanted to fill you in on a few rules changes that were approved by the owners:

Overtime Scoring Changes

The rules regarding scoring in overtime for playoff games will now be applied to regular season games.  You may recall from a previous post that these rules were revised in 2010 to avoid the seemingly unjust result of the team winning the coin toss only having to get within field goal range to win a playoff game.  Now that the teams have had time to see how the new rules in action, they’ve decided that it’s time to apply the new system to regular season games.

For our post explaining the overtime procedures, “Overtime Gone Overboard,” click here.

Replay Revisions

Longtime NH readers may also remember the post on coaches’ challenges.  If you do, you know that, starting with the 2011 season, all touchdowns are first reviewed by a replay official off the field who determines whether a score needs a second look from the referee.  Therefore, coaches can no longer use their allotted challenges for touchdown plays.  During this week’s meetings, the team decided to expand this procedure to turnovers:  fumbles, interceptions, backward passes behind the line of scrimmage recovered by the opposing team, and muffed kicks recovered by the opponent.

For a review on the challenges procedure (including my opinions on the 2011 changes, which, incidentally, apply to this change as well) click here.

Too Many Players on the Field:  This is now considered a “dead ball” foul (i.e., a foul that occurs between plays).  This means that the penalty for the infraction will be assessed from the succeeding spot (i.e., where the offense would have the ball after the next play).  Also, when there are multiple fouls on the same play, if any are “dead ball” fouls, the procedure for enforcing the penalties is affected. 

For an explanation of multiple foul procedures, the post “Two Wrongs Make … Nothing?!?”, click here.

For a reminder on the basic “too many players” penalty, click here.

Definition of a “Defenseless Player”:  If a player commits an illegal “crackback” block, his victim will now be considered a “defenseless player,” meaning that he is protected from taking shots to the head or neck.  Therefore, if another player hits the victim of a crackback block in the head or neck, the offense will be subjected to the heightened penalties associated with this type of hit (and the league might impose a fine and/or other penalty on the offending player).

For a recap on the consequences of hitting a defenseless player, click here.

For the definition of a "crackback" block, click here.

Well, those are the highlights of the changes that came out of this week’s NFL meeting.  There will be another series of meetings later this spring, so stay tuned!

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