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Tuck Rule Eliminated, Helmet Rule Approved At NFL Owners Meetings

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)


It won’t reverse the win by the New England Patriots over the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 (actually, the game was played in January of 2002) AFC Playoffs, but the NFL has eliminated the Tuck Rule.

The NFL owners voted on Wednesday to eliminate the Tuck Rule at their meetings in Phoenix. Now, it will be ruled a fumble when a quarterback pump fakes and loses the ball while trying to bring it back toward their bodies.

Under the Tuck Rule, such a play would be ruled an incompletion.

The most famous example of the Tuck Rule coming into effect, was that AFC Divisional Round playoff game between the Raiders and Patriots, after the 2001 NFL season.

Prior to that game, in which Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady was ruled to have thrown an incomplete pass after dropping the ball when he was hit by the Raiders’ Charles Woodson,  which allowed the Patriots to continue a game-tying drive with a field goal, not a whole lot of people even knew about the rule.

Owners also voted to penalize crown of the helmet hits by players who are outside of the tackle box, or at least three yards downfield, and change the replay challenge rule so that a bad coaches’ challenge doesn’t prevent officials from reviewing the play.

If a player who is more than three yards downfield or outside of the tackle box delivers a blow with the crown of his helmet, it will now be a 15-yard penalty. If the offensive and defensive player each lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each player will be penalized.

In regards to replay challenge, owners passed the rule that fixes a problem when coaches challenge a play that would be automatically reviewed in the replay booth. Under the new rule, a coach who challenges such a play is charged a timeout when he throws a challenge flag. If the play is overturned, the coach gets back the challenge. It remains a 15-yard penalty if a coach challenges a booth reviewable play.

Under the previous rule, if a coach challenged a reviewable play, there would be a 15-yard penalty and no review.

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