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Rule modifications for Pro Bowl



AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Sunday 7 p.m. (ET), NBC

Ed Hochuli is the referee today for the annual all-star game from Honolulu. Packers coach Mike McCarthy (NFC) and Broncos coach John Fox (AFC) will be on the sidelines. The NFC will call the coin toss as the designated visiting team.

In order to minimize injuries, the Pro Bowl plays modified rules that protect the players. Basically, pass rushes are shut down, and standard formations are used. The following list is a summary of the rule modifications from the league’s Record and Fact Book:

  • The offensive formations must have a tight end and have no more than two receivers on either end. No motion or shifting is allowed.
  • The defense must line up in the standard 3–4 formation, evenly spaced, with linebackers in a two-point stance (three-point stance permissible in goal-line situations). Outside linebackers can rush the quarterback in short yardage or inside the 5-yard line.
  • Safeties must play man-for-man or with limited zone coverage (3-deep with strong-safety rotating and no 5-deep zones).
  • Intentional grounding rules are relaxed when the quarterback throws to the line of scrimmage to avoid a sack.
  • On punts, the defense can rush 6 players, 3 per side. On placekicks, the nose tackle can be the 7th rusher.

If the game ends in a tie, they will play an overtime period.

There are no replay reviews.

After allowing it for the first time last year, players will be permitted to use Twitter on the sideline and will communicate with the fans via the #ProBowl hashtag. However, each bench only has one computer; mobile devices are still not permitted.

Since the game was moved to the off-week prior to the Super Bowl in the 2009 season, the two Super Bowl teams will have their players substituted for by the next highest qualified players at the vacant positions.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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