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Final Super Bowl drive triggers proposed rule change


In the days after Super Bowl XLVI, we pointed out that the final New England drive included a play that featured too many defensive players on the field. The Patriots got a free play and, ultimately, five yards of field position. But time was of the essence, and the Patriots lost precious seconds that weren’t put back on the clock.

It appeared that Giants coach Tom Coughlin had stumbled onto an effective late-game defensive tactic. On further review, the Giants didn’t keep an extra guy on the field for strategic reasons, deliberately using an extra man and realizing that the five yards the Pats would pick up were meaningless. Still, the situation flagged a potential loophole that could be utilized any time a team is both defending the goal line and milking the clock.

The Competition Committee noticed, and it has proposed an adjustment to the rules that would mirror the college version. If the defense is lined up with an extra man (or men) and the snap is imminent, the officials will blow the whistle and award five yards, before the play begins. If, on the other hand, the extra player(s) are merely trying to get off the field, the play will proceed and a penalty will be called.

Curiously, the situation in Super Bowl XLVI involved an extra Giants player trying to get off the field. The same outcome would apply under the old rule or the new rule (if the new rule is passed). And so, for the first time that we can remember, a unique situation on a big stage has sparked a change in the rules that wouldn’t apply if that same situation ever happens again, but only to a different situation.

There’s nothing different about me pushing chunks of PFT Live. Here’s Competition Committee chairman (and Falcons president/CEO) Rich McKay talking about the situation on Thursday’s show.