NFL rule change after 49ers crafty holding penalties against Saints
By Ty Anania
NFL rule change alert. Amid a slew of blown calls and weekly fan outrage, the NFL has finally taken action. The only problem? It’s changed a rule that nobody minded.
The newest NFL rule change comes in the wake of the Saints Week 9 matchup with the 49ers. In a year plagued by questionable calls and badly worded rule book language, it’s good to see the NFL finally stepping forward and making changes. I just can’t say I’m happy about the particular change they’ve made.
Everyone should remember the play. In the closing seconds of the first half, the Saints were marching down the field. With 8 seconds left on the clock, they were knocking on the door with no timeouts. So they had one shot at the end-zone, which, if incomplete, would have left just enough time for a last-second field goal.
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Brees and co. came out, lined up with four wideouts. Unger snaps the ball. Immediately, the four Niners CBs each grab onto their receiver, tackling them to the floor. This kills the play, and Brees throws the ball at his feet, incomplete.
Obviously, the refs called all four holding penalties. The Saints could only accept one, and they couldn’t get back the time on the clock. Sean Payton had to choose between a last second TD attempt or a last second FG attempt. There was no longer enough time to take a shot before the FG.
I really love this move. I was hoping the Saints would take a page out of Chip Kelly’s playbook in the future. Unfortunately, as SI recently reported, the NFL has closed the loophole.
Terming the play “palpably unfair”, the league instructed officials to call a 15-yard, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and put time back on the clock if more than one holding call is made on a play. I assume that applies only to these last-second, intentional holds.
I’d love to see a rule change to leveraging, but that’s just me.