Owners Approve Five Rule Changes for 2012

In all the hoopla over Bountygate and the allure of the newly-emerging ongoing saga of Appealgate, a story that has not been explored much here on CSC this week (except for Sarah T's work and Satch, too) is that of the rule changes for 2012 approved by the owners. All that changes...right here and right now.

Earlier this week, John Clayton of espn.com posted this story about it, and Judy Battista filed one for the New York Times, as well. These will serve as my source material, as I give it the HansDat treatment, and I even have a link to an nfl.com video of competition committee co-chair Rich McKay discussing the changes for your viewing pleasure.

Make the jump for the review...

The item receiving the most attention in all this is one we know well, that of the format of overtime that began with a revamp of playoff overtime rules following the Saints win over the Vikings in the 2009 NFC Championship Game.

Battista put it this way:

On Wednesday, the owners changed overtime for the regular season so that it will mirror the postseason rule, which mandates that the team that wins the coin flip cannot win the game on its first possession with a field goal.

"It should be consistent," said John Mara, the Giants' president and a member of the competition committee.

And here's Clayton's report:

The NFL rarely tinkered with overtime until two years ago, when the Saints won the NFC title by winning the coin toss to start the extra period, marching downfield and kicking a field goal.

The vote on adopting the overtime was 30-2.

An overtime in the regular season now will end on a team's first possession only if it scores a touchdown or the defense forces a safety. If the team kicks a field goal on its first possession, the opposing team also will get a possession. If it also kicks a field goal, the extra period continues.

The other big deal in all this was the decision to mandate booth replay review of all turnovers (much like the scoring play review rule they enacted in 2011).

I'll let Clayton have the first say this time...

All turnovers will be reviewed from the booth with no coaches' challenges needed and overtime periods in the regular season will use the same scoring rules as the postseason after NFL owners voted to approve those proposals Wednesday. The replay official already reviews all scoring plays.

With all turnovers now subject to review, it could lead to even more effective coaching challenges. According to ESPN Stats & Information, last season (the first with all touchdowns being reviewed), plays were reversed on 52 percent of challenges, the best rate over the past 11 seasons and 10 percent higher than in 2010.

Battista:

The most significant of the other rule changes for next season calls for all turnovers to be automatically reviewed by replay officials without coaches having to use a challenge flag. The league does not believe that will add time to games because the clock already stops for turnovers. But owners rejected a proposal to have all instant replays reviewed by those in the booth rather than officials on the field.

And Battista on the other changes:

The owners approved three more rules changes: the foul for having too many men on the field will now be a dead-ball foul with the clock stopping; a team will lose a down if a player illegally kicks a loose ball; and the recipient of a crack-back block is now considered a defenseless player, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

With Clayton now on both changes NOT approved...

Not passed were proposals to have the booth official handle video reviews rather than the referee, and outlawing the horse-collar tackle made on quarterbacks in the pocket.

Given the NFL's concern with player safety, not extending the horse-collar rule seemed surprising. But competition committee chairman Rich McKay said the ownership "didn't think this can impact on player safety."

"The rule was developed for the open-field tackle when a defender has the chance to do something else [in making the tackle]," he said. "He's also able to use the runner's momentum against him. We didn't think that applied to the pocket, didn't see the injury risk."

...and by-law changes tabled:

Several bylaw changes were tabled until the league meetings in May, including expanding preseason rosters to 90, designating one player suffering a major injury before Week 2 of the season as eligible to return from injured reserve, and moving the trading deadline back two weeks to after Week 8.

McKay expects them to pass at the next meetings in Atlanta.

* * *

That's all for now for your 2012 rule changes round-up. It's your turn to let everyone know what you think about these changes (or non-changes) in the comment section...

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