NFL rule changes on extra points, higher uprights and reviewable plays

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) and place Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) and place holder Sam Koch (4) watch as Tucker's 61-yard field goal clears the uprights during the fourth quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions. (Dec. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The NFL will experiment during the upcoming preseason with moving back extra point kicks from the 2-yard line to the 20 as a way to make the kick more challenging. All but five extra point tries were successful last year, and the league wants to see if moving the kick back will make it less of an automatic scoring play.

A proposal to permanently move extra point kicks back to the 25, proposed by the Patriots, was tabled by owners at their annual spring meetings on Wednesday. Instead, the owners want to see how the preseason setup works this year before deciding whether to move the kick back. The two-point conversion attempt will remain at the 2-yard line.

"I personally don't see the necessity of making that a more competitive play," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "There are other thoughts involved too. It's November, it's December, it's MetLife Stadium, it's zero degrees, it's snowing, and you're going to line up for an extra point to win the division and it's a 43-yard field goal? That's an interesting concept."

The league also approved a measure to extend the uprights five feet to better help officials determine if a field goal or extra-point try is good after the ball sails over either of the uprights. That change went hand-in-hand with the announcement on Tuesday that the league would no longer allow players to dunk the ball over the crossbar as a touchdown celebration.

In a game last season in Atlanta, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham dunked the ball and caused the crossbar to be bent, prompting a delay as workers righted the crossbar. Competition Committee co-chairman Rich McKay, who happens to be the Falcons president, said raising the uprights would make the goal post even heavier and could lead to further instances of the crossbar being bent if a player dunks the ball over it and hangs on it. He also said some stadiums don't have the capacity to fix the crossbar in a timely fashion.

Committee co-chairman Jeff Fisher, the Rams' head coach, said that coaches and players will be reminded about more vigorous enforcement of taunting penalties. There were 34 taunting penalties called last year, compared to just nine in 2012.

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"The committee agreed that we have an issue on the field and we agreed that we are going to get it under control as soon as we possibly can," Fisher said. "We're going to effect change immediately. We've got to change our conduct on the field and bring the element of respect back to its highest level."

Other rules change announcements:

* The recovery of a loose ball in the field of play is now reviewable. The change is in response to a play in last year's Seahawks-49ers NFC Championship Game, in which 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman recovered a fumble but had the ball jarred loose after he had hit the ground. The play was ruled a Seahawks recovery. Under the current rule, a similar play will now be subject to replay review.

* The clock will not be stopped after a sack.

* The league on Tuesday announced a plan that would allow a representative in the NFL's officiating department in New York to speak directly with the referee about a replay review. Also on Tuesday, owners adopted a rule that prohibits blockers from rolling up on the side of a player's leg in an effort to reduce knee injuries.

* Several rules proposals failed, including a measure to move kickoffs from the 35 to the 40 and allowing personal fouls to be subject to a coach's challenge. Another measure that would have allowed all plays to be subject to replay review was defeated. A measure to place cameras at the goal lines and the end lines of all stadiums was tabled, pending further review.

* No vote was taken on expanding the playoffs to 14 teams from 12. There was discussion about the issue, but the league will talk to the NFL Players Association before proceeding with a formal vote.

With Tom Rock

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