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Modified kickoff, replay rules pass

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  March 22, 2011 02:08 PM

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NEW ORLEANS -- NFL teams voted earlier on the various rule changes submitted by the competition committee. Here’s what went down:

  • Kickoffs will take place from the 35-yard line (up from the 30). Touchbacks remain at the 20. Players on the kickoff team must be within 5 yards of the ball. Teams can still use a two-man wedge. Patriots voted for the rule.
  • All scoring plays will be subject to confirmation by the replay booth, just like every play is within two minutes of the end of each half.
  • Coaches can still get a third challenge if the first two were successful.
  • Changes to the defenseless receiver rules were tabled until the May league meeting.
  • All playing fields must be green in color.
  • Procedural rule passed that eliminates the extension of a half after a 5- and 15-yard penalty enforcement that includes a deal ball personal foul against the defense.

Here is Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said his "alarm clock just didn't go off this morning," on the kickoff changes:

On why he was strong against it yesterday but voted for it

They were getting rid of the wedge, doing a lot of other stuff. Think this is a lot simpler. It’s clean.

On whether it will affect the number of returns

It will cut down some, sure. Statistically it will....Based on the numbers, I think we’re still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters. At the end of the year it goes down anyway. I mean, there’s a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season then there are at the end. The ball just doesn’t carry as far in the cold.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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