Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook

Article excerpt

The NFL wants to avoid a replay of what happened in Detroit on Thanksgiving when Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag on a touchdown run, negating an automatic replay.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson promised Wednesday that the rule would be corrected before next season.

During a game against Houston, Schwartz illegally threw a challenge flag on an 81-yard touchdown run by the Texans' Justin Forsett.

Replays clearly showed Forsett's knee and elbow touched the turf at the Houston 25 when he was hit by Lions defenders.

Normally, all scoring plays are automatically reviewed. However, because Schwartz was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the review was not allowed.

Anderson says the most important thing is getting the call right.

"The bottom line is that we will get resolution on that play where we will get it right, where the play on the field is correctly administered," Anderson said.

Other potential rule changes:

Player safety is yet again at the forefront. The biggest potential change may be the way helmets are used in the future. Currently, players can be penalized for hitting defenseless receivers and hitting players above the neck with the crown of the helmet.

One possibility is expanding the rule to make it illegal to target any player on the field and any body part with the top of the helmet.

If the yet-to-be drawn up proposal were adopted, the new rule would be expanded to cover running backs or receivers dipping their heads and using the top of the helmet to drive the pile backward.

Another concern is the defensive alignments on extra points and field goals.

Giants owner John Mara said in recent years that most teams have been putting two or three defensive players on the line of scrimmage and then putting two or three more behind them so they can push the linemen into the backfield in hope of blocking a low kick. The committee may consider making that illegal.

The league also plans to take a look at changing the rules on illegal blocks, which could help avoid the low, rolling block that knocked Texans linebacker Brian Cushing out for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee. …

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