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2019 Rule Changes

Penalties on touchdowns now can cost 1 or 2 points

A significant rule change was made in the offseason that can have a major impact on the game, and it has nothing to do with pass interference.



A significant rule change was made in the offseason that can have a major impact on the game, and it has nothing to do with pass interference.

In the NFL, any major fouls that occur during and after a scoring play are “bridged” or carried over and assessed on the kickoff. Starting this year, these fouls can be assessed on the extra-point conversion try. Because this includes post-score fouls, it can have an affect on the success of the 1- or 2-point conversion.

This will only apply to 15-yard fouls, and for the scoring team they must be dead-ball fouls. A defensive holding penalty is declined (otherwise it reverses the score), but unsportsmanlike conduct and personal fouls would be assessed at the opponent’s option to the extra point or the kickoff. If the extra point is selected, the scoring team can then opt to have that enforced from either the 2- or 15-yard line, and must then attempt the appropriate 1- or 2-point play from the resulting spot.

The scoring team can take a major foul by the defense and go for 2 points from the 1-yard line, when they might have just kicked. It also gives the defense a chance to take a taunting or other unsportsmanlike conduct, and push a 1-point try to a whopping 47-yard kick or a 2-point try equivalent to a 4th-and-17 play.

Under the penalty enforcement rules for the extra-point try, a subsequent penalty on the extra-point could effectively nullify the 15-yarder. The scoring team can apply a penalty by either team to the previous spot (the original snap location of the extra point) or change to the other conversion spot. For example, if the scoring team is snapping from the 30 for the kick, and the defense commits a neutral-zone infraction, the scoring team can enforce that half-the-distance from the 2 and go for 2 points; in this case, the 15 yards does not carry over to the second conversion attempt, and it is unenforced.

In the case of a deliberate offensive foul on the conversion — like a false start or delay of game that prevents the snap — it is possible for the scoring team to move their conversion option to erase their 15-yarder. An unsportsmanlike foul can be assessed on a 2-point play to the 17, but then the offense’s intentional foul could then be applied to a kick, meaning they trade 15 yards for 5. This works only if the defense accepts the penalty.

One final point to remember with major foul enforcement: live-ball taunting fouls are, by rule, assessed as a dead-ball foul. So, if there is a taunting gesture by a scoring player before he gets to the end zone, it does not nullify the touchdown, but now it can be enforced on the extra point.

Image: Oakland Raiders photo

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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