Rule changes for 2013 outlined

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 2, 2013 – 11:59 am

NFL referee Bill Vinovich and part of his crew showed a video to media on Friday — the same video the players also will watch — that outlined the rule changes and points of emphasis for officiating in 2013. Here is the summary:

–A ball carrier who strikes a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet outside the tackle box will be flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. Three components must be present to constitute a foul — the offensive player lining up the defensive player, lowering his head, and striking a forcible blow with the crown. If the offensive and defensive player are not lined up and coming at one another from an angle, there is no penalty. It’s also not a penalty if the contact occurs within the tackle box, which extends 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. “It’s meant to be an open-field penalty,” Vinovich said, and it won’t be called on goal-line plays. Vinovich added that after a comprehensive film study of the 2012 season, the penalty would have been called only three times.

–Defenses can have no more than six players on either side of the snapper on a field goal or point-after try. Also, defensive players on such plays can no longer throw any blocks below the waist, and the long snapper has been given the same protections as “defenseless” players, meaning no contact to that player’s head or neck area is allowed with the head, shoulder or forearm of another player.

–Peel-back blocks, in which an offensive player comes at a defensive player from the side and blocks him below the waist, are now illegal anywhere on the field. They were previously illegal only outside the tackle box.

–Thigh and knee pads are required to be worn by all players.

–The “tuck rule” has been eliminated. The forward passing motion is now considered stopped as soon as the “tuck” begins, not when it ends. If a passer loses control of the ball while trying to tuck it back into his body, it’s a fumble.

–Plays that are to be automatically reviewed by instant replay (scores, turnovers, under 2 minutes left in each half, overtime) will still be reviewed even if a head coach erroneously throws a challenge flag. Previously, if a challenge flag were thrown on an automatically reviewed play, the review would be canceled as long as it had not yet started. Now, the team needlessly throwing the challenge flag will be charged with a timeout, or penalized 15 yards if it has no timeouts, but the play will still be reviewed.

–Points of emphasis include bringing ball carriers deemed “in the grasp” under the umbrella of “defenseless” players, and calling facemask fouls on offensive players if they grasp and control a defensive player’s facemask while in the act of throwing a stiff arm or escaping a tackle attempt.

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