NFL announces three rule changes

Following a virtual meeting involving owners and league officials, the NFL announced three new playing rules and one new bylaw change that were adopted by the league for the 2020 season.

The most prominent of the three was the rule prohibiting manipulation of the game clock by committing dead-ball fouls while the clock is running, a rule famously used by and against New England Patriots coach Bill Bellichick.

Game clock manipulation

This change to Amend 4, Section 3, Article 12 “prevents teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.​”

Automatic replay review

This amendment to Rule 15, Section 2 “makes permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful try attempt.​​”

Defenseless player protection

This amendment to Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9 “expands defenseless player protection to a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.”

The league decided not to continue with last year’s expanded challenge ability on pass interference.

Player protection continues to be a key factor in rule changes, as kick and punt returner jobs will get a little less dangerous.

The league will also expand the rule that allows a player to return from Injured Reserve from two players to three in a season. However, all three players will still have to be on the initial 53-man roster. That will keep IR from being a place to stash players after training camp starts.

The proposed 4th-and-15 alternative for the onside kick did not pass, though the league seems intent on getting away from plays with higher injury potential. Tweaks to the onside kick will remain under consideration.


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