The NFL relaxed all rules regarding crowd noise, citing the need to increase the in – stadium experience to lure more fans to attend games. In addition, the league cited the advances in the coach – to – quarterback radio communications, and more visiting teams using silent snap counts as an alternative to overcome crowd noise.
The NFL’s rules to “legislate the fans”, and help visiting offensive players hear the snap count, have been controversial from the start. In one notorious example, then – Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche and then – quarterback Boomer Esiason “protested” the crowd noise rules during a 1989 nationally televised preseason game against the New Orleans Saints by constantly complaining to the referee about the loud crowd noise inside the Superdome.
The league will still allow stadiums to post visual noise meters and other scoreboard messages to incite fans to make noise, but they must cease when the play clock is down to 15 seconds. However, home teams are still prohibited from pumping in artificial noise.
The position of the umpire has been moved from behind the defensive linebackers (except in the last two minutes of the first half, the last five minutes of the second half, and anytime the offense is inside the defense’s five – yard – line) 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.
During field goal and extra point attempts, defenders cannot line up directly across from 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 with the opportunity 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.
The 2009 temporary modification to the rules regarding balls in play that strike an object such as a video board or a guide wire has been made permanent. Prior to 2009, only the down was replayed. The 2009 modification added resetting the game clock to the time when the original play was snapped. This amendment was originally passed in response to a punt hitting the center – hung video display boards of Cowboys Stadium during a 2009 pre – season game.
The replay system will now also be allowed to cover whether there was some sort of interference with the ball during a play.
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.