NFL Modifies Replay, OT Rules

However, a major revision of the replay system was shot down, and a proposal to change injured-reserve rules was put on hold.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Before bolting to their idling limousines before noon Wednesday as the NFL concluded its annual league meetings here, team owners failed to pass a rules change that would have moved decisions on reviewed plays from the referee on the field to a replay official in the booth.

The rules change, proposed by the Buffalo Bills, did not appear to have the support of many owners or team officials this week, and that was the case when the vote was conducted Wednesday morning. Proponents of the proposal had suggested that the move might speed up the game, but competition committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, suggested that was not the case.

And a few owners emphasized that, while there has been some criticism of having the replay decisions remain with a referee "under the hood," any displeasure was not enough to elicit a change. "The old (adage) about 'If if ain't broke' ... I think that was the overriding thing," said Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis.

One change that was adopted was having replay officials automatically review all turnovers, as was the case with scores last season. McKay said the move will not notably add to the average game time. In 2011, when all scoring plays were reviewed, it added only 1 second per game.

One significant change, and one that had been rumored since last year, is that the overtime rules which pertained only to postseason contests, will apply to all games. When the league implemented the rule a year ago, there were questions then about why the competition committee just didn't make the change for all games. But McKay and others hinted then, and reiterated Wednesday, that the move perhaps was better coming in stages.

The approved change was proposed by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Owners declined a rules change that would have eliminated the exceptions against so-called "horsecollar" tackles for quarterbacks in the pocket. While emphasizing the increased agenda toward safety in the game in general, McKay said the proposal "didn't have a real impact on physical safety."

Tabled on Wednesday, but likely to be adopted later in the year, are a number of changes that are roster related. Key in that category are changes that would push back the trade deadline by two weeks, from the Tuesday following the sixth week of play, until after the eighth weekend; a rule that would allow a team to designate one player for return from injured reserve during the season, instead of spending the entire year on I.R.; a move that would permit players diagnosed with concussions to be essentially deactivated and replaced on the roster; a rule that could increase the offseason roster limit from 80 to 90 players; and proposals dealing with roster and deactivation deadlines.

McKay said there was no substantial pushback on any of the roster or injured reserve proposals, and expects them to eventually pass, with some revision or refinement of the language in most of them.

Owners will meet again in Atlanta in late May.

In non-rules news, commissioner Roger Goodell said he expected to soon meet with the NFL Players Association to determine player punishments from the New Orleans Saints' bounty program.

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