Tag:NFL Rules
Posted on: January 22, 2012 10:07 pm

NFL postseason overtime rules explained

We have OT for the second time this postseason (AP)
By Ryan Wilson

The NFL changed the posteason overtime rules prior to the 2010 season but the league didn't have its first overtime playoff game until two weeks ago when the Broncos beat the Steelers on the first play from scrimmage in extra time.

Prior to the rules change, overtime was simply sudden death: first team to score wins. This still holds for all regular-season games, but "modified sudden death" is now the postseason format.

The particulars, via the NFL.

* 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 time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.

* Instant Replay: No challenges. Reviews to be initiated by the replay assistant.

The rules change came about after statistics examined by the competition committee showed that, going back to 1994, teams that win the coin toss also win in overtime 60 percent of the time. Even more compelling: the same data showed that since 1994, the team that won the overtime coin toss won the game 34 percent of the time on the first possession.

"We've had this discussion for a number of years," competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said back in March 2010. "We feel this year's proposal gave us the opportunity to [install] a pretty good rule. Statistically, we felt it needed to be changed. It wasn't creating the fairest result as far as field goal accuracy, field goal distance and drive starts."

"Plenty of people on the committee, myself included, are so-called traditionalists," former Colts president Bill Polian said. "I am proud to be one. But once you saw the statistics, it became obvious we had to do something."

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Posted on: October 19, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 3:46 pm

Chris Harris: 'NFL has made a knee-jerk reaction'

Posted by Dave Richard

I'm a lover of football. Fantasy Football is my beat, and I love it, but I also love the game the players play and have a profound respect for all the men who wear an NFL uniform. I appreciate football.

That said, seeing players get concussed left and right last Sunday was jarring. We'll see a few players suffer a concussion in a given week, but it seemed like there was one in every game in Week 6. The number of concussions and helmet-exploding tackles are a function of players being as athletic, fast and aggresive as ever.

The NFL announced Tuesday that players will immediately start getting suspended for illegal hits made on others (the word illegal is the key), a ruling that is not resonating well with many players. According to the NFL rule book that changed before this season, illegal hits are:

"[F]orcibly hitting the defenseless player's head, neck, or face, with the helmet or facemask, regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or lowering the head and violently or unnecessarily making forcible contact with the "hairline" or forehead part of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player's body; or, "launching" (springing forward an upward) into a defenseless player, or otherwise striking him in a way that causes the defensive player's helmet or facemask to forcibly strike the defenseless player's head, neck, or face -- even if the initial contact of the defender's helmet or facemask is lower than the defenseless player's neck."

The rule attempts to eliminate dirty and overly violent play from the game. With the long-term interests of the players' health and brains in mind, and from someone who doesn't play football for a living, it's a commendable move.

But ask anyone whose sole job is to keep players from advancing the football and they're unhappy, confused and above all angry. Many defensive players feel as if it's taking away from their ability to play football the way they were taught.

"Let me say I'm all for player safety," Bears strong safety Chris Harris told CBSSports.com on Tuesday, "but after this weekend I think the NFL has made a knee-jerk reaction. No one is trying to intentionally injure players. Inflict a little pain, yes. That's part of the game. It's freakin' football.

"I've always been taught to put my facemask on the numbers, old school football. They want (defensive players) to change overnight? It's impossible. This is a barbaric sport with a gladiator-like mentality. You know the risk you're taking when you sign this NFL contract, but you still choose to play. That's like people who smoke -- they know the risk of lung cancer but they still do it."

Harris, who was the most vocal about the rule change on Tuesday morning, said that in training camp he and his teammates were shown a video produced by the NFL of what is and what isn't an illegal hit. The video was seen in every camp by every player. Harris said it didn't change his attitude toward tackling, and the reality is that in a league driven by bottom-line results, defenders have a "by any means necessary" attitude when it comes to stopping a player.

"You have a split-second to react and make a decision on tackling," Harris said. "If my helmet makes contact, it's not on purpose, but as a defender my job is to get the ball carrier down. If I don't, I have coaches on my back for missing a tackle, and if you're not making tackles you will be released, plain and simple. I don't have enough time to worry about how I'm getting the ball carrier down. Try half-ass tackling Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson and see if you get them down. Hell, it's hard enough trying to get them down without thinking about trying to avoid helmet to helmet contact. The time you spend thinking, the ball carrier is by you."

Harris is miffed at the idea that he could be suspended for doing something that he's been trained to do. Moreover, he's been involved in collisions of his own that have left him buzzed. In Week 3 of this season he left the Bears' game vs. the Packers with what turned out to be a stinger, but Harris wrote on his blog, HitmanHarris.com (the name of the blog is not lost on us), that "one side of my body went numb for a moment."

The point is, everyone who plays football is at risk for concussions and serious head injuries. "It's the nature of the game," Harris said.

The alternatives to the NFL's rule change are equally troubling. They could stand pat and enforce a 15-yard penalty, which they've been doing so far this year. They've also been fining players as a deterrent. either of those have curbed the number of helmet-to-helmet hits. Suspensions takes the issue to the next level, and that will make some players -- some -- think twice before delivering a blow. In that case, the ruling is already working.

When asked if he had a solution of his own to this problem, Harris was blunt: "Nope, other than just do away with the game if it's all about player safety."

We know that's not going to happen. Whether or not this step by the NFL works, and what changes the NFL makes going forward, could change the course of the game -- for better or for worse.

Dave Richard doles out daily fantasy football advice for CBSSports.com -- follow him on Twitter if you're not already.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 10:16 am
Edited on: October 19, 2010 10:39 am

Ray Anderson: 'We are not changing any rules'

Posted by Will Brinson

Anyone paying attention to professional football this weekend noticed a plethora of big (or, if you prefer, "devastating," which Ray Anderson may or may not, depending on which ESPN personality he's talking to) hits that resulted in the league announcing that it would begin to suspend players for these big hits.

This news, which Andy and I predicted recently, was met with relatively widespread acceptance, although if NFL VP of Football Operations Ray Anderson is to be understood, it's not actually a change from what the league's been doing thus far.

"We are not changing any rules, just enforcing the existing rules to protect our players," Ray Anderson said on ESPN's Radio "Mike & Mike."

Technically, that's correct -- the NFL and its officials have the power to suspend players and eject them from games for "egregious" hits, respectively. But neither party has done a spectacular job of enforcement thus far. According to Anderson, that will change now.

"I don't know where the word 'devastating' came from -- that's not my word," Anderson said. "What I would say is that  if there are flagrant and egregious [violations] of the rules, we will be enforcing immediately discipline at a higher level. 

We need to get our players firmly in line with the current rules and that's what our intentions are effective immediately."

(Quickly: Anderson supposedly used "devastating" in talking to Chris Mortenson on Monday night, then he denied using it -- see above, then Mort said on SportsCenter that Anderson DID use it. Just to catch you up.)

And that's the key: the NFL wants the players to get in line, and that doesn't just apply to intentions. In fact, Anderson said that intent wouldn't be considered the primary concern, while instead stressing the importance of "liability" on the part of the tackling player.

In other words, James Harrison is responsible for adjusting his pad level to Mohamed Massaquoi, when Massaquoi, as the ballcarrier, drops the ball. Brandon Meriweather's "hit" (read: headbutt) on Todd Heap was considered "egregious" by Anderson, and that's good news -- even without the NFL's policy shift, the Patriots safety escaping sans fine would be shocking.

Perhaps the most interesting case is with Dunta Robinson and DeSean Jackson. Robinson's intention, at least interpreted by 90 percent of the people watching and involved with the game, weren't malicious, even if the result was "illegal." But Anderson said that doesn't matter.

"Yes, it was a bang-bang play ... but at the end of the day it was still illegal under the rules," Anderson said of Robinson's hit.

In other words, the NFL is far more concerned with taking the letter of the law (which is currently established under the league's rules) and making sure to enforce it.

" "We're not going to be apologetic, we're not going to be defensive about it," Anderson said.

That's not a surprising attitude from the NFL -- and in this situation, it's appropriate -- but the challenge won't come with the backlash towards the NFL's attitude. The problem will come with the backlash to the NFL's enforcement on and off the field for these hits.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com