NFL Rule Changes: Overtime, Challenge Rules Tweaked, Roster Changes Possible

It's been a lot more than R &R at the NFL Owners meeting in Palm Beach, FL this year as the owners recently agreed on some sweeping rule changes that will go into place this following season. Here's a quick look at just what the rules are and how they affect they league:

The playoff overtime rules have been installed for the 2012 regular season, which goes a little something like this:

"The modified system of determining the winner shall prevail when the score is tied at the end of regulation for postseason NFL games [now all NFL games]. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

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

The new overtime rules got their first test drive with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants in this year's NFC Championship game, though didn't really affect the outcome in the end.

It also went into effect that all turnovers and scoring plays will become subject to review, a loss of down penalty will be added for illegally kicking a loose football, too many men on the field becomes a dead-ball foul, and any player considered to have taken a 'crackback' block will be seen as a defenseless player.

There are still a few rules out there waiting to get ruled upon, which likely won't happen until May:

  • Modify the roster rules for teams having to play on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Move the trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8.
  • Expand the roster limit for training camp and the offseason to 90 players.
  • Move this year's final roster cutdown day to Friday night instead of Saturday, giving an extra day of work for the two teams playing in the first game of the season.
  • Add an injured reserve exemption so that if a player was on the roster through the first regular season weekend, that player can be placed on injured reserve and designated for return, eliminating that fact that all players on injured reserve are out for the season.
  • Allow one roster exemption per team per week for a player who is inactive with a concussion.

For more on the NFL's rules, check out SB Nation's dedicated NFL hub. For more on the San Francisco 49ers, check out Niners Nation.

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