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NFL considers changing "Tuck Rule"

The SportsXchange

One of the NFL's most notorious rules might no longer be on the books next season.

The league is considering altering the "Tuck Rule," the regulation that helped the Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in January 2002 en route to New England's first Super Bowl title.

Under the rule that has been in place since 1999, once a quarterback brings his arm forward in a passing motion, if the ball comes loose, it's considered an incomplete forward pass until such time as the ball is tucked away next to the body.

The proposed change would rule would make the loose ball a fumble if the quarterback is in the act of bringing the ball back his body.

The existing rule saved the Patriots in the playoffs a decade ago, as a potential Tom Brady fumble was ruled as an incomplete pass. The drive continued, New England tied the score with a field goal on that possession, then won in overtime.

For the rule to be changed, 24 of the 32 teams must give their approval.

"We went through the calls this year, and on tape, what is happening is, the great majority of these are called fumbles and appropriately called fumbles," Rich McKay, co-chair of the NFL's competition committee, told the New York Times. "Because of the written rule of how the Tuck Rule was written, they go into replay, and they look at it, and under the rule, the tuck had not been completed so it has to be reversed from what is a fumble.

"We just felt like with the officials being more comfortable and being almost assertive that they think they can call it and they understand when a passer lost control of the ball and still trying to throw it versus trying to begin to tuck the ball."

According to ESPN.com, another proposed rule change would alter the response to unnecessary challenges by coaches. Last year, the Lions were unable to have a touchdown by the Houston Texans correctly overturned because Detroit coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag.

All scoring plays are automatically reviewed. Under the existing rule, if a coach throws his challenge flag on a scoring play, no review is allowed.
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