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Owners Pass Seven Of 13 Rule Changes

Posted Mar 26, 2014

Goal posts heightened after Justin Tucker kick; extra points will be experimented with.

The NFL’s owners meetings concluded Wednesday with announcements on 13 proposed rule changes.

Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is part of the league’s competition committee and Owner Steve Bisciotti votes on them. It’s unclear exactly how he voted in every instance.

Here’s a review:

Extended Goal Posts Approved; Resulted From Ravens Game

Could this become known as the Justin Tucker rule?

League owners approved a measure to extend field-goal posts by five feet, which should help referees better determine whether a kick is good or not.

The rule change proposal was made by the New England Patriots, and specifically Head Coach Bill Belichick. It stems from a game against the Ravens in 2012.

On Sept. 23, Tucker booted a 27-yard game-winning field goal against the Patriots as time expired. The kick went over the right goal post. Belichick stormed onto the field to protest, saying it went wide, and even grabbed an official. Turns out, Belichick still hasn’t forgotten that kick.

“I think there were a couple kicks that spurred it on, but that surely was one of them,” Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said of the proposal.

Here’s Tucker’s kick that night:

Extra Points To Be Experimented With

The NFL will experiment with moving extra-point attempts back, then have more discussions next year about a more dramatic change.

For the first two games of the preseason, the line of scrimmage for extra points will be the 20-yard line, making it about a 38-yard kick. The original rule proposal (via New England) was to move it back to the 25-yard line, but the league didn’t want to go that far.

“The committee’s concern was to go ahead and affect some change in the rule without having the opportunity to go through those unintended consequences,” said Jeff Fisher, the Rams’ head coach and co-chairman of the NFL competition committee.

“We all feel like we need to do something; we’re just not quite sure what we’re going to do with it yet.”

In early March, Tucker spoke out against the notion of moving the extra point back. He believes it could be a sign of ultimately trying to eliminate the extra point, and thus shrink a kicker’s role. Tucker thinks it could result in more teams attempting two-point conversions.

“If somebody wants to be honest and say they’re trying to phase kickers out of the game, I’d appreciate that,” Tucker said. “I’d start working out and I’d try to get a little faster and I’d work on my hands and become a slot receiver. I want to play the game.”

Harbaugh-Supported Expanded Replay Voted Down

The proposal to expand instant replay to make every play reviewable was voted down.

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was a fan of the proposal, which was also made by Belichick and the Patriots.

“We’re on record in Baltimore the last four or five years of being in favor of putting everything in instant replay that can be put in instant replay,” Harbaugh said. “It’s our feeling that the technology has caught up with the game in a lot of ways.”

Harbaugh has challenged a league-high 57 plays during his six seasons in Baltimore, and had an NFL-best 28 of those plays reversed.

NFL Officiating Department To Be Involved In Replay

Referees will now be able to consult with the NFL officiating department in New York when making judgments on instant replays.

A select group of people in the league office will be watching for reviews and can begin talking to officials in an earpiece as soon as they announce a review will be made.

The league feels this will speed up reviews and help get the calls right.

Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said in January that he was in favor of the change, which models the NHL review system.

“I think we can expedite that process and make it better,” Bisciotti said. “I think it's easier for a nonpartisan guy up in New York to overrule that ref than it is that ref walking over to overrule himself or his teammate, so to speak. So, I'm all for the New York thing.”

Penalizing Taunting Will Be Emphasized

The Ravens and all teams will have to be more careful with what they’re saying to opponents on the field this season.

Fisher announced that sportsmanship was a productive and lengthy conversation at the owners meetings.

“We agreed that we have an issue on the field and we agreed that we are going to get it under control as soon as we possibly can,” Fisher said, adding that taunting penalties increased from nine in 2011 to 34 last season.

“We’ve got to change our conduct on the field. We’ve got to bring the element of respect to its highest level back to our game.”

There hasn’t been a change in the rules regarding taunting. It’s more stressing the enforcement of the rule, including “in-your-face” taunting and foul language.

Complete Rule Changes Results

Of the 13 rule change proposals, seven passed (or were acted on), three failed and three were tabled for further discussion. Here are the full results:


Proposal No. 4, via Patriots (Heighten goal posts): Extends the goal posts an additional five feet above the cross bar, making it easier for officials to determine whether kicks are good.

Proposal No. 8, via competition committee (Roll-up protection): Would add a penalty for “rolling up” on the side of a defender. Currently, a blocker cannot go low at the back of the legs of a defender. This would further extend that to include the side.

Proposal No. 9, via competition committee (Referee consultation): Would allow the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department in New York during replay reviews.

Proposal No. 10, via competition committee (Replay fumble recoveries): Allows plays where the ball is in the field of play and there is a clear recovery to be reviewed and potentially overturned. Previously, when a ball was ruled dead, it was not reviewable.

Proposal No. 11, via competition committee (Clock stoppage): Eliminates the stoppage of the clock on a sack at any point of the game.

Proposal No. 13, via competition committee (Penalty enforcement): Makes all defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage enforced from the previous spot rather than the end of the run or the spot of the foul.

*Proposal No. 5, via Patriots (Longer extra points): Would move the line of scrimmage for extra points to the defensive team’s 25-yard line, making it a 43-yard attempt. This is to make the extra point more competitive.
*Modified and approved for the first two preseason games

Tabled Until May 19-21 (NFL spring league meeting)

Proposal No. 3, via Redskins (Preseason overtime): Would eliminate overtime periods in preseason games for player safety reasons.

Proposal No. 6, via Patriots (Boundary line cameras): Would put stationary cameras on all boundary lines – the sideline, end line and end zone – to supplement the TV cameras.

Proposal No. 12, via competition committee (Pass interference modification): Would allow for pass interference to be called even if the foul occurs within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage.


Proposal No. 1, via Redskins (Kickoffs): Would move the kickoff to the 40-yard line for safety and historic consistency reasons.

Proposal No. 2, via Redskins (Replay personal fouls): Would expand instant replay to include personal foul penalties.

Proposal No. 7, via Patriots (Coaches challenges): Would permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision, except scoring plays.


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