NFL makes rare in-season rule adjustment

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The notoriously reactive NFL has gotten proactive, for a change.

The NFL has issued, without prior discussion, debate, or deliberation (at least none that was known), a so-called “approved ruling” that provides an interpretation of one of the league’s official rules. The move comes only days before the start of the postseason.

The new approved ruling, A.R. 15.128, addresses a loophole that would apply in one very narrow circumstance: When an incomplete pass is overturned via replay review to a fumble, and the fumble is recovered in the end zone absent video evidence of a clear recovery.

Previously, the absence of a clear recovery would have kept the end result at an incomplete pass. Now, it becomes a safety, since at a minimum the ball necessarily was recovered by the offense, resulting in two points for the defense.

The new approved ruling isn’t a reaction to something that happened during the 2018 season or previously, according to the NFL, “There is no example of this play occurring or ruling being applied in an NFL game.”

There likely is an interesting story about how this all came to be, since it goes against a firmly-established tendency to tolerate rules that could lead to an unfair result until the unfair result demonstrates the need for a rule change.

Also, the league rarely changes a rule during a season. But since this rule never had been applied to convert a safety to an incomplete pass, no competitive considerations apply.

Here’s hoping the NFL applies more proactivity to much-needed rule changes in the future.

19 responses to “NFL makes rare in-season rule adjustment

  1. Belichick probably thought of that…


    He would probably suggest to just have video cams in the end zone at all times. Every angle.

  2. There is no reason for an in-season rule change ban. It should only be done as a last resort, but it shouldn’t be ruled out. If something needs fixing, fix it. The unfair thing would be to force teams to play under a rule everyone knows needs to be changed.

    The NHL once changed it rules in the MIDDLE of the playoffs. Google “The Avery Rule”.

  3. Well they changed the rule about what a head shot was when Dallas played the Redskins and Reed got destroyed, but they decided a week later to change the rule back.

  4. If a fumble occurs in a forest, and there’s no one around who cares, does it make an audible sound that results in a false start? Or, false fart? One of those.

  5. The next rule to change is that if you fumble through the end zone, it’s a touchback. That is so dumb. If you fumble out of bounds anywhere else on the field, you get the ball back, but if you fumble on the 1 and it bounces out past the pylon, you lose the ball and the other team gets 19 yards. Completely idiotic. Just put the ball back where it was fumbled. It’s not rocket science.

  6. still nothing on the ground helping to catch a pass like as happened when that Dallas WR dropped the ball against GB too many people laughingly think was a catch, nothing on balls deliberately batted through the end zone, fumbles that go over the end zone line before recovered by either team, nothing about moving basketball-type picks by receivers downfield, nothing enforced on faceguarding by defenders downfield, no ban on cut or chop blocking, no ban on receivers holding onto defenders downfield before pushing off, no ban on spear tackling at the knees, no ban on picking up and throwing players, no allowance for one point on field goals that are otherwise no good for hitting the crossbar or either end bar..

  7. Is it a catch? Is it roughing the passer? Is it pass interference?
    We’re not sure but if something happens that’s never happened before, we’re on it.

  8. Lol, I’m sure that last eagles cowboys game had something to do it with it. Nothing but green jerseys on the ball, but no clear recovery! what a joke…

  9. A.R. 15.128

    Leave to the NFL to have such a improper name for a rule they could have named it anything they wanted.

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