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NFL bans Patriots’ ineligible receiver ploy

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots

Getty Images

The trick play the Patriots used against the Ravens in the playoffs will no longer be legal under an NFL rule adopted today.

The league has made it illegal for an offensive player with an eligible receiver’s jersey number (1-49 and 80-89) to report as an ineligible player and line up outside the tackle box. That means the play on which Patriots running back Shane Vereen lined up as an ineligible receiver in the slot would now be a penalty.

It was a crafty ploy by Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his staff to come up with that play, and it clearly caught the Ravens off guard. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was so upset about the play that he got a penalty for yelling at the officials about it. A week later, the Patriots also caught the Colts off guard by playing tricks with eligible receivers.

But those tricks are coming to an end after a vote of the owners today.