Rules recap: Line overload rule was most controversial change of 2013

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Editor's note: This is the second in a four-part series looking back at the four player health and safety rules that were approved at the NFL Annual Meeting last year. The 2014 Annual Meeting begins Sunday in Orlando with more safety-related rules expected to be on the table.

THE RULE: A ban on teams overloading one side of the defensive line on point-after and field-goal attempts.

What the rule changed: "(a) When Team A presents a punt, field-goal attempt or a Try Kick formation, a Team B player, who is within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage, must have his entire body outside the snapper's shoulder pads at the snap. (b) When Team A presents a field-goal or Try Kick formation: (1) No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap; Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense, loss of 5 yards from the previous spot. (2) Team B players cannot push teammates on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation. Penalty: For unnecessary roughness, loss of 15 yards from the previous spot."

Why the change was made: PAT defensive teams were rushing through the gaps created by the overload. After looking at a lot of tape, NFL Competition Committee members found too many injuries were caused by this formation.

How it would affect player health and safety: "They will no longer permit defense rush players, Team B players, to push their teammates through the gaps and overload," St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said." This proposal also creates a situation where the snapper now becomes a defenseless player and he gets helmet-to-helmet protection."

The impact: This easily was the most controversial of the 2013 player safety rule changes. It gave the New York Jets a second chance for a game-winning field in overtime against the New England Patriots. Other teams were pointing fingers as well, saying that referees missed the call in key moments. Meanwhile, special teams defenses had to adapt to the rule that some claimed they didn't know about, despite receiving tutorials in training camp.

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