As with every new season in the National Football League, there quite a few rule changes for the 2010 season. Over the next several slides is a list of all the new rules so that you are not confused come Week 1.
One of the more notable rule changes was directly influenced by the NFC Championship Game.
By a vote of 28-4, the league's owners voted to accept a "modified sudden death" system, in which the team that wins the coin toss can win the game with a touchdown on its first possession but not with a field goal. Should the first team to possess the ball in a postseason overtime score a field goal, it would have to kickoff to the other team, which would then get the chance to tie the game with its own field goal (and continue overtime on a sudden-death basis from that point) or win it with a touchdown. If the team with possession first fails to score at all, the opposing team could win with a field goal.
This rule appears to be directly influenced by the NFC Championship Game, in which the Saints won in overtime while Brett Favre and the Vikings never touched the ball. (Interestingly enough, the Vikings were one of four teams (Bills, Ravens, and Bengals as well) that voted against the OT rule chance.
The definition of a "defenseless receiver" (where a receiver cannot be hit in the head or neck area by an opponent who launches himself and makes contact with his helmet, shoulder, or forearm) will now apply to every defenseless player.
A play will now immediately be whistled dead once a ball carrier's helmet is knocked off. The ball will be spotted at the spot where the player lost his helmet and the clock will not stop.
The position of the umpire has been moved from behind the defensive linebackers (except in the last two minutes of each half) to the offensive backfield opposite the throwing arm of the quarterback in order to reduce the numerous times that the official has been run over during plays.
Peyton Manning has voiced his displeasure against this new rule as has Colts president Bill Polian because of the fact that it will slow down the no huddle offense that they employ. And that is more important than the safety of the umpire.
During field goal and extra point attempts, defenders cannot line up directly across from the long snapper.
This rule is aimed at protecting the long snapper.
Dead ball 15-yard personal fouls that are committed on the final play of either the second or fourth quarters will be assessed on the second half or overtime kickoff, respectively. Previously, such penalties during those situations were not enforced.
Punt returners who make a fair catch signal but then muff the ball are now entitled to catch the ball before it hits the ground without interference. If there is interference during such a scenario, the receiving team would be awarded the ball at the spot of the foul, but no penalty yardage would be assessed.
So smash and grabs are no longer legal, basically.
After Titans punter A.J. Trapasso hit the epic scoreboard at Cowboys Stadium last preseason, a temporary rule was put in place that the down was replayed. A modification last year added resetting the game clock to the time when the original play was snapped. Now those rules have been made permanent.
Now surprisingly, no other punt has hit the scoreboard, mostly punters are competent enough to avoid it since when punting you don't punt straight up. But don't ask the unemployed Trapasso.
One of the better rule changes is that the replay system will now also be allowed to cover whether there was some sort of interference with the ball during a play. Since pass interference is a spot foul (another rule that should be changed) it can be such an enormous penalty despite the fact that some times there was no interference. Kudos to the NFL.
If the clock is stopped in the final minute of either half for a replay review, but would not have stopped without the review, there will be a 10-second runoff (similar to when the offensive team commits a penalty inside of one minute in order to preserve time). As with any other 10-second runoff, teams are permitted to take a timeout instead.