Monday, February 4, 2013

rule change

The last two super bowl games have been affected--and you could make a case that they may have been decided--because of a flaw in the rules that needs to be addressed.  I believe I blogged about this last year, but this year the situation was more glaring.

I would not have realized the issue yesterday had it not been for a note I received from my brother this morning.  After he wrote what he did, it made all the sense in the world, but I had not noticed it, nor had the announcers, or apparently the referees.

With eleven seconds left and up by 5 the Ravens faced a fourth down from near their end zone.  They could have punted and given the ball back to the 49ers in time for at least one heave into the end zone.  Instead the punter took the hike and ran around in the end zone until he had exhausted seven seconds, then stepped out of bounds. The result was a safety decreasing their advantage to three points.  This was irrelevant because it would take four seconds for any player to return the kickoff/punt after the safety.

Smart play.  But what was surprising to the announcers and me was how long it took the 49ers to reach the punter and force him out of bounds. The guy was doing the slow mambo in the endzone for seven seconds before he was forced out.

My brother pointed out that the Ravens had egregiously held the rushing 49ers making it difficult to get to the punter.

The penalty for holding in the end zone is a safety, which is what the Ravens were trying to do anyway.  So, so what.  They would gladly accept a truly meaningless penalty in exchange for eliminating seven seconds and the chances for the 49ers to have a shot at winning the game.

A "penalty" in this situation is actually to the advantage of the team being penalized.  And this is what needs to be changed.  If the 49ers had even so much as 6 seconds they might have been able to get in position to throw the ball into the end zone.

Last year a similar situation occurred. The Giants had taken a four point lead over the Patriots.  With the ball at the Patriots forty and only about a dozen seconds left, the Patriots threw a long pass toward the endzone.  The Giants had double teamed the receiver and were able to defend the pass.  However, the Giants had 12 players on the field.  It is relatively easy to defend with 12 players against 11.  The Giants were penalized, but only five yards, which meant nothing at that time.  The 12 players had successfully defended a potential scoring play. The penalty was insignificant. But moreover had exhausted six or seven seconds on the clock.  The Patriots not only lost the chance to score, but lost the time. They had time for one less play.

So, in two consecutive super bowls, plays that are supposed to be penalties, have been to the advantage of the miscreants and could have affected the championship

Two simple rule changes.  (1) In the last two minutes of a game or half, the team that is the victim of the penalty may choose to receive back any time lost during the play when they were victimized.  (2) Too many players on the field in the last minute of a game results in an extra minute of play added to the clock should the victimized team request that extra time.

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