BOSTON (CBS) –The onside kick is safe — for now — while a loophole exploited by Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel during the 2019 NFL season is now closed.
NFL owners were set to vote on a proposal that would have allowed teams to try a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line instead of an onside kick to try to regain possession, but that proposal was tabled before it even got to a vote, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero. The rule would have needed 24 of 32 owners to approve it in order to pass, but a “virtual show of hands” showed that it did not have the support. There will be further discussion on the proposal in the future, according to Pellisero.
That should make defensive players around the league happy, including Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty, who voiced his disapproval of the proposal on Wednesday.
Owners did approve of three rule changes on Thursday, including one that will make sure that coaches won’t manipulate the game clock with multiple dead-ball fouls, as Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel did during the 2019 season.
Three rules change proposals were approved:
2. Make permanent expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays/turnovers negated by foul
8. Expands defenseless player protection for KR/PR
9. Prevents manipulation of game clock with multiple deal-ball fouls
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 28, 2020
Belichick took advantage of that loophole in New England’s blowout victory over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, bleeding time off the clock with a slew of penalties that the Jets declined.
“It’s probably a loophole that’ll be closed. It probably should be closed,” Belichick said following New England’s 33-0 win.
Vrabel threw it right back in his former head coach’s face when the stakes were much higher, taking over a minute off the clock as the Titans held on to a 14-13 lead late in their Wild Card win over the Patriots in the postseason.
Perhaps that will now be known as the Belichick-Vrabel rule.