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NFL Rule Changes: Overtime Format Now Uniform, Officials To Review Every Scoring Play or Turnover

March 25,  2012; Palm Beach, FL, USA;  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during an press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Breakers Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
March 25, 2012; Palm Beach, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during an press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Breakers Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL Owners have been meeting this week and one of the agenda items was to vote on several proposed rule changes. Those votes are happening today, and several changes have already gone into effect. Aaron Wilson has the latest scuttlebutt, and reports:


-- The Overtime rule has passed, which now makes the new playoff format from 2011 uniform for postseason and regular season. This means first-possession field goals in overtime do not signal the end of the game. First possession touchdowns still have the sudden death effect though.

The official rulebook states:

"The modified system of determining the winner shall prevail when the score is tied at the end of regulation for postseason NFL games [now all NFL games]. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

"At the end of regulation time, the Referee will immediately toss a coin at the center of the field in accordance with rules pertaining to the usual pregame toss. The captain of the visiting team will call the toss prior to the coin being flipped.

"Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three timeouts per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular-season game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return."

I like this rule change. More after the jump.


-- The injured reserve designation and trade deadline proposals have been tabled until May, save for one bylaw. They are expected to pass eventually, though.

The following were proposed, as laid out by ProFootballTalk. As stated, these items have been pushed back, except for the first.

1. Modifying the roster rules for teams that play on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Per Brian McIntyre, "this makes Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day (on a day other than Sunday) a customary business day for the purpose of Player Personnel transactions. This means that teams playing night games on on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day night games on days other than a Sunday can make roster changes prior to 4pm ET on that day."

2. Moving the trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8.

3. Expanding the roster limit for training camp and the offseason to 90 players, with unsigned draft picks now counting toward that limit, whereas in the past unsigned draft picks did not count toward the 80-player limit.

4. Moving this year's final roster cutdown day to Friday night instead of Saturday, which is designed to give an extra day of work after cutting down to final rosters for the two teams playing in the first game of the season, which this year is on Wednesday instead of Thursday.

5. Adding an injured reserve exemption so that if a player was on the roster through the first regular season weekend, that player can be placed on injured reserve and designated for return, and then can return to practice six weeks later and play in a game eight weeks later, rather than having all players on injured reserve out for the season.

6. Allowing one roster exemption per team per week for a player who is inactive with a concussion.


-- It has been passed that the replay official will now review every turnover and scoring play.


-- Loss of down penalty added for illegally kicking loose football.

-- Too many men in formation is a dead-ball foul.

-- Recipient of crackback block is regarded as a defenseless player.


- Neither the Bills' instant replay proposal nor the horse-collar rule proposal by Steelers passed.

Per PFT, "the Steelers had proposed to modify the horse-collar tackle rule to remove the exception for quarterbacks in the pocket, so that a quarterback in the pocket may not be yanked down by the back of his shoulder pads or inside collar of his jersey."

Per Inside the Bills blog, "the Bills had proposed that the instant replay official upstairs in the booth make all the decisions on plays under review rather than the head official on the field. The intention of the proposal is to speed up the game and not have the referee have to go over to the sideline watch several angles of the play in question under the hood and get on the headset and then make a decision and return to the field."

-- Roger Goodell also said discussion of an 18-game season hasn't been held in a while, so that's apparently still tabled as well.

I'll update today as more information comes out.