In a memo sent to all teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced a decision regarding potential collisions between the game ball and the video board at Cowboys stadium.
A league source tells us that the video board won’t be moved, and the “do over” rule will apply.
Specifically, if a ball strikes the video board, the play will be dead at that point and the down will be replayed from the previous spot. No penalties will count, other than personal fouls.
Also, the clock will reset to the time reflected before the “do over.” (And that makes sense; otherwise, a team with the lead could have told its punter to slam the ball into the video board over and over again.)
If the officials on the field don’t notice the ball striking the video board, the replay assistant will be empowered to trigger a replay review — even if the incident occurs outside the final two minutes of each half, the normal time period during which the replay assistant has the power to call upon the referee to assume the position at the portable replay booth.
And if the replay official doesn’t believe the ball struck the video board but the head coach of either team thinks otherwise, a red-flag challenge will be available.
As the source pointed out, there’s a hole in this rule. If the incident happens with fewer than two minutes remaining in either half, and if the replay assistant doesn’t notice the collision, the coaches might not be able to challenge the outcome.
The memo indicates that the rule will apply for the balance of the 2009 season, including all remaining preseason games, all regular-season games, and any postseason games that might be played at the new venue. Goodell cited Rule 3, Section 1 in taking the unconventional approach of altering the official playing rules beyond the normal offseason procedure for doing so.
The issue likely will be revisited after the season, and the resolution of the situation for 2010 surely will be influenced by the frequency with which the punting plays in Dallas evoke memories of the old “Breakout” video game.
Regardless, the powers-that-be need to be confident in the rules by next year. Even if the Cowboys don’t earn any home playoff games in 2010, there’s one fairly significant postseason game that will be played at the new stadium in February 2011.