Monday, August 10, 2009

Blogging the NFL Rule Book: 2009 Changes

Significant changes to the 2009 NFL rule book:
RuleTopic20092008Reasoning/Impact
2-2The BallFor games in outdoor stadiums, eight new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the Referee, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked by the Referee and used exclusively for the kicking game. For games in indoor stadiums, six new footballs will be shipped. For games in outdoor stadiums, 12 new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked by the Referee and used exclusively for the kicking game. For games in indoor stadiums, eight new footballs will be shipped.
3-2-7-Note 3Recovering a Loose BallIf a player would have caught, intercepted, or recovered a ball inbounds, but is carried out of bounds, player possession will be granted.If a player would have caught, intercepted, or recovered a ball inbounds, but was forced out of bounds, player possession would be granted.Aligns rule with 2008 changes to pass catch rules.
3-22-1Definition of a PassA Pass is the movement of the ball caused by the runner who throws, shoves (shovel pass), or pushes (push pass) the ball.A Pass is the movement of the ball caused by handing, throwing, shoving (shovel pass), or pushing (push pass) by a runner. Such a movement is a pass, even though the ball does not leave his hand or hands, provided a teammate takes it (hand-to-hand pass).
A.R. 3.15Illegal Forward HandingThe ball, moving backwards in the hands of an offensive player A1, is possessed by offensive player A2 who is in advance of A1.

Ruling: Illegal forward handing unless A2 is behind his line and is eligible to receive a forward pass.
The ball, moving backwards in the hands of an offensive player A1, is possessed by offensive player A2 who is in advance of A1.

Ruling: A forward pass unless A2 is behind his line and is eligible to receive a forward pass.

4-3-3-gStarting the Game ClockIf a fumble or backward pass by any player goes out of bounds, the game clock starts when an official places the ball at the inbounds line, and the Referee signals that the ball is ready for play.(g) If a fumble by any player goes out of bounds forward, the game clock starts when an official places the ball at the inbounds line, and the Referee signals that the ball is ready for play.

(h) If a backward pass goes out of bounds after the two-minute warning of either half, the game clock starts when an official places the ball at the inbounds line, and the Referee signals that the ball is ready for play.
Any fumble out of bounds, whether backwards or forwards, temporarily stops the clock.
4-7-2-Note 1Illegal Acts to Conserve TimeMore than two successive delay penalties during the same down, after a warning, is unsportsmanlike conduct.More than two successive penalties during the same down, after a warning, is unsportsmanlike conduct.Clarifies rule / eliminates ability to run out nearly entire game clock by taking repeated delay of game penalties.
6-1-3-bFree Kick FormationAt least four players of the kicking team must be on each side of the kicker. At least three players must be lined up outside each inbounds line, one of whom must be outside the yard line number.At least four players of the kicking team must be on each side of the kicker when the ball is kicked.Player safety. Harder to pulverize hands team on onside kick.
6-1-3-dFree Kick FormationAfter the ball is kicked, no more than two receiving team players may intentionally form a wedge in an attempt to block for the runner. An illegal wedge is defined as three or more players lined up shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other. Note: This does not apply when the kicking team lines up in an obvious onside kick formation.

Penalty: For players intentionally forming an illegal wedge: Loss of 15 yards.
[new rule in 2009]Player safety. Will likely lead to shorter kickoff returns.




1 2
6-3 (old)Onside Kicks[No longer applicable, or section mistakenly removed from the rule book. For whatever it’s worth, Rule 6-2-5 still refers to it.][governs re-kicks of illegal onside kicks]
No longer get second opportunity to redo short/OOB onside kicks, even before the last 5 minutes of the game. Slightly reduces benefit of surprise onside kick.
7-2-3-Note 2Neutral Zone InfractionIt is a Neutral Zone Infraction when a defender enters the neutral zone prior to the snap, causing the offensive player(s) in close proximity to react (move) immediately to protect himself against impending contact; officials are to blow their whistles immediately. If there is no immediate reaction by the offensive player(s) in close proximity, and the defensive player returns to a legal position prior to the snap without contacting an opponent, there is no foul. For offensive linemen aligned from tight end to tight end, a player is in close proximity if he is within 2-1/2 players of another player. A flexed or split receiver is considered to be in close proximity if he is lined up on the side of the ball on which the violation occurs.It is a Neutral Zone Infraction when a defender enters the neutral zone prior to the snap, causing the offensive player(s) in close proximity to react (move) immediately to protect himself against impending contact; officials are to blow their whistles immediately. If there is no immediate reaction by the offensive player(s) in close proximity, and the defensive player returns to a legal position prior to the snap without contacting an opponent, there is no foul. For offensive linemen aligned from tight end to tight end, a player is in close proximity if he is within 2-1/2 players of another player. For flexed or split receivers, a player is in close proximity if he is anywhere between the flexed or split receiver and the ball.Clarification.
7-3-4-3False StartAny quick, abrupt movement by a single offensive player or by several offensive players in unison, which simulates the start of the snap is a false start.

Any obvious attempt by the quarterback to draw an opponent offside is a false start penalty.
Any quick, abrupt movement by a single offensive player or by several offensive players in unison, which simulates the start of the snap is a false start.

This does not apply to an offensive player under the center who turns his head or shoulders (only) provided he receives a hand-to-hand snap. Any obvious attempt by the quarterback to draw an opponent offside is a false-start penalty.
The next three rules address possible Wildcat issues. The original rules governing the QB's extension of hands date back to the 1950's.
7-3-4-4Extension of HandsA player who extends his hands under center as if to receive the snap may go in motion, provided he comes to a complete stop and resets as a back before the ball is snapped. If he fails to reset as a back it is a false start when the ball is snapped. This includes any player under or behind the center who places his hands on his knees or on the body of the center. If the action is quick and abrupt it is a false start.Any extension of hands by a player under center as if to receive the snap is a false start unless, while under center, he receives the snap. This includes any player under or behind the center placing his hands on his knees or on the body of the center. It is legal for a player under center who has extended his hands to legally go in motion. If the action draws an immediate reaction from opponent(s), who is in close proximity, it is a false start. If a quarterback goes in motion, he must come to a complete stop prior to the ball being snapped.Besides shifts from QB-under-center to Wildcat, this also makes the fake "QB walks away in anger" play legal, provided the QB stops.
A.R. 7.27Extension of HandsThird-and-10 on A30. Offensive quarterback A1 places his hands on side of snapper. Ball goes through A1’s legs to Back A2 who completes a pass to the A40.

Ruling: Backward pass. A’s ball first-and-10 on A40.
Third-and-10 on A30. Offensive quarterback A1 places his hands on side of snapper. Ball goes through A1’s legs to Back A2 who completes a pass to the A40.

Ruling: False start. Five-yard penalty. Snap must go to quarterback A1. A’s ball third and- 15 on A25. Blow whistle immediately.

8-2-1-Item 1 (old 8-3-1-Note 1)
Intentional Grounding
Intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, who is outside, or has been outside, the tackle position throws a forward pass that lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including when the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline). If a loose ball leaves the area bordered by the tackles, this area no longer exists; if the ball is recovered, all intentional grounding rules apply as if the passer is outside this area.Intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, while outside the tackle position and facing an imminent loss of yardage, throws a forward pass that lands near or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including if the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline).Eliminates vagueness of "near" the line of scrimmage; allows passer to ground ball if he leaves the pocket, then returns.
12-1-4-aIllegal BlockAn offensive blocker cannot … thrust his hands forward above the frame of an opponent to contact him on the neck, face, or head (Note: Contact in close-line play that is not prolonged and sustained is not a foul unless the opponent’s head is pinned back by direct and forcible contact);An offensive blocker cannot … thrust his hands forward above the frame of an opponent to contact him on the neck, face, or head (Note: Contact in close-line play that is not prolonged and sustained is not a foul);This Hines Ward block will no longer be legal.
12-1-6-cDefensive HoldingA defensive player may not … thrust his hands forward above the frame of an opponent to contact him on the neck, face, or head. (Note: Contact in close-line play that is not prolonged and sustained is not a foul, unless the opponent’s head is pinned back by direct and forcible contact.)[new rule in 2009]
12-1-8-NoteIllegal BatIf a forward pass that is controlled by an airborne player prior to completing the catch is thrown forward, it is an illegal bat. If it is caught by a teammate or intercepted by an opponent, the ball remains alive. If it is not caught, the ball is dead when it hits the ground.If a forward pass that is controlled by a player prior to completing the catch is thrown forward and caught by a teammate, it is an illegal bat. If the ball is not caught, it is an incomplete pass and there is no foul.
12-2-8-kUnnecessary Roughness[Unnecessary roughness includes] … if the initial force of the contact by a defender’s helmet, forearm, or shoulder is to the head or neck area of a defenseless receiver who is catching or attempting to catch a pass.[new rule in 2009]
12-2-12Blindside BlocksIt is an illegal “blindside” block if the initial force of the contract by a blocker’s helmet, forearm, or shoulder is to the head or neck area of an opponent when:

(a)the blocker is moving toward his own endline; and
(b)he approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.

Penalty:For illegal “blindside” block: Loss of 15 yards.
[new rule in 2009]
12-2-13-5Hitting Passer’s KneesNote 1: A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in the knee area or below, even if he is being contacted by another player.

Note 2: It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him.
[new rule in 2009]


14-1-13-4Illegal Forward PassWhen the spot of a foul is that of an illegal forward pass, enforcement is from the spot of the pass. This does not apply to a second forward pass from behind the line, or a forward pass from behind the line after the ball had been beyond the line, which is enforced from the previous spot, unless the spot of the pass is behind the passer’s goal line.When the spot of foul is that of an illegal forward pass, enforcement is from the spot of the foul. This does not apply to a second forward pass from behind the line, or a pass after the ball had gone beyond the line, which is enforced from the previous spot.
14-4-ExceptionsMultiple FoulsException 1: If one of the multiple fouls is a foul against a game official, then both fouls are enforced.

Exception 2: If the defensive team commits a personal foul that is also pass interference, then both fouls are enforced.
[new rule in 2009]
15-9Reviewable PlaysOther reviewable plays …

3. Ruling of incomplete pass when the recovery of a passer’s fumble by an opponent or a teammate occurs in the action following the fumble.

4. Ruling of a loose ball out of bounds when it is recovered in the field of play by an opponent or a teammate in the action after the ball hits the ground.

Note 1: If the ruling of down by contact or incomplete pass is changed, the ball belongs to the recovering player at the spot of the recovery of the fumble, and any advance is nullified.

Note 2: If the Referee does not have indisputable visual evidence as to which player recovered the loose ball, the ruling on the field will stand.
[new rule in 2009]Plays ruled as incomplete passes can be reviewed / overturned into fumbles. Addresses the Cutler / Merriman / Hochuli Week 2 fiasco.

Comments on "Blogging the NFL Rule Book: 2009 Changes"

 

Anonymous kris said ... (11:01 PM, August 23, 2009) : 

Great Stuff. Where did your get your hands on the rulebook? I've been trying to figure out the logistics of the wild-cat, but the NFL goes out of it's way to hide it's rules.

Ugh.

 

Blogger Hapi said ... (9:30 PM, August 30, 2009) : 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

Blogger PawleysIslandParrothead said ... (8:11 PM, October 11, 2009) : 

In the Ravens game today against the Bengals, the Ravens D was called for an illegal formation.
Anyone one know if this rule actually exists against the D?
Thanks,
Bubba

 

Blogger Travis said ... (7:38 AM, October 13, 2009) : 

Rule 7-2-2: During a field-goal attempt or a Kick Try, a Team B player, who is within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the snap, must have his helmet outside the snapper’s shoulder pads.

The rule was put into place before the 2006 season and is intended to protect long snappers.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:47 PM, December 07, 2009) : 

What is a ruling on the Robert Meachem touchdown against washington? Should that be credited as a defensive touchdown or as a touchdown for the offensive player?

 

Anonymous James Ryan said ... (9:43 PM, December 07, 2009) : 

Excellent post! Some questions:

From 14-4: "Exception 1: If one of the multiple fouls is a foul against a game official, then both fouls are enforced."

I'm assuming 'a foul against a game official' means 'a foul propagated against a game official', rather than 'a foul perpetrated by a game official'.

Do you know of examples of such penalties against a game official?

Also, is it possible for a game official to be 'penalized' in any way?

 

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