Inside The Bills

2010 rules changes

Posted by Chris Brown on July 27, 2010 – 10:20 am

Everyone knows about the overtime rule change for the postseason this year, but there are a few others for 2010 as well as some points of emphasis for the officials. Here’s the rundown.

1 – Expanion of defenseless player rule
Last year it was illegal for a player to hit a defenseless player with their helmet, shoulder or forearm. That’s been expanded and made more specific to include the following.

It’ll be illegal to hit any defenseless player if the initial force of the contact is made by a player’s helmet, shoulder or forearm is to the head or neck area. Such players include…

A QB in the act of throwing
A WR in the act of making a catch
A KR/PR in the act of catching a kick
A RB who is in the grasp whose forward progress has been stopped
A QB after change of possession
A K/P after the ball is kicked

Penalty for this is unecessary roughness and a 15-yard walk off.

2 – No launch rule
If a receiver has completed a catch, but has not had time to protect himself, a defensive player is prohibited from launching into him, in which a defensive player’s helmet, shoulder or forearm are used to forcibly strike the receiver in the head or neck area. (They’re trying to prevent defenders from leaving their feet and turning their helmet into a weapon).

Penalty for this is also 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

3 – Snapper protection (expanded)
The snapper on punts and kicks is in a defenseless position with his head down at the start of a play. Last year a rule was instituted to prevent opponents on the line of scrimmage from lining up over him, but there were still instances where his safety was at risk, so to expand the rule opponents on the line of scrimmage must line up with their entire body outside of the snapper’s pads on FGs and punts, otherwise it’s a 5-yard illegal formation penalty.

4 – Helmet off rule
Starting this year the ball is going to be called dead immediately if a ball carrier’s helmet comes off. Spot of the ball will be where the helmet of the runner came off.

5 – Muffed fair catch rule
After a fair catch signal is given the opportunity for the kicking team to recover a punt continues, but the returner now must be given a “reasonable chance” to recover the ball before it hits the ground without interference from the other team. If not the ball will be spotted like a fair catch, but no penalty yardage will be assessed.

6 – Dead ball personal foul at end of half or game
Penalty yardage for a dead ball personal foul at the end of the half or game will be assessed in the 2nd half or overtime if the game is tied at the end of regulation.

7 – 2010 postseason overtime possession rule
Each team will have a chance to possess the ball once in overtime. If the team that wins the toss in OT scored a touchdown on their first possession however, the game is over. If they score a FG the game is not over and the other team will have a chance to possess.

Keep in mind the chance to possess is not the same as possession, meaning that if a receiving team is returning a kickoff and the returner fumbles and the other team recovers that will count as their chance to possess in overtime come the playoffs.

Remember if neither team scores on their first possession in overtime, regular sudden death rules apply.

Other points of emphasis for officials
Sportmanship – taunting and gesturing at opponents will be strictly enforced

Gesturing to officials – Exaggerated gesturing to officials to throw flags for fouls will be prohibited

Unnecessary roughness

Illegal low blocks


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