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Recapping the NFL's replay review changes for 2016

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the NFL owners voted to make tweaks to the replay review system for 2016. Although the changes aren't monumental, I think fans who want to stay up-to-date with every intricacy of the game will appreciate this.

The approved proposal is Proposal 7A, which was submitted by the competition committee. You can read the full proposal here. It was a derivation of Proposal 7, submitted by the Baltimore Ravens, a couple of months ago. You can remind yourself of Baltimore's original proposal here.

Game Administration Issues Can be Reviewed

"The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock."

When I saw this rule change, it was unclear as to whether or not this change would only apply to the final two minutes of each half and overtime. After reading the proposal a couple of times, I determined that because the phrase "Replay Review" was used in the other paragraphs related to Replay Officials but not this paragraph, that the Replay Officials can stop the game at any point to ensure that mistakes are not made in the assessment of of rules.

These things were previously not reviewable, and are being categorized as "game administration review:"

(1) Penalty enforcement.
(2) Proper down.
(3) Spot of a foul.
(4) Status of the game clock.

The clock situation should especially come in handy, given a few issues in that area recently.

Game Clock Reviews After a Half Ends

There was language specifically highlighting what will happen if the game clock expires in either half, which I will quote in full below. There has to be visual evidence that two or more seconds were on the clock:

In situations in which time is deemed to have expired during or after the last play of the first or second half, or of an overtime period in the preseason or regular season, or of an overtime half in the postseason, a timing error is defined as having occurred only when the visual evidence demonstrates that more than one second should be put on the clock.

In the first half, time shall be restored only if the additional play will be a snap from scrimmage. In the second half, time shall be restored only if it is a one-score game (eight points or less), and the additional play will be a snap from scrimmage by the team that is behind in the score, or by either team if the score is tied. A correction of a timing error for a team timeout may be made only if there is visual evidence of an official’s signal.

Clearer Language on Some Non-Reviewable Plays

A few instances were added to the list of "non-reviewable plays." These plays were previously not reviewable either, but now they are specifically listed in the section to make it clearer:

  • Not Reviewable: Whether a runner’s forward progress was stopped before he went out of bounds or lost possession of the ball, or whether a runner gave himself up.
  • Not Reviewable: Spot where an airborne ball crosses the sideline.
  • Not Reviewable: Whether a player was blocked into a loose ball.
  • Not Reviewable: Advance by a player after a valid or invalid fair catch signal.
  • Not Reviewable: Whether a player created the impetus that put the ball into an end zone.