Referees Explain New Rules For 2005 NFL Season

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NFL officials outlined the rules changes for the 2005 season on Thursday by showing an instructional video and answering questions from the media.

The changes include those geared to player safety and use of timeouts and will be explained to both the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills prior to Thursday night's joint practice.

"We don't make the rules," said NFL umpire Jim Quirk."We're just asked to enforce them."

Quirk will enforce several player safety rules, including the elimination of peel-back blocks, which often occur on screen passes. If an offensive lineman blocks below the waist, to the side or from behind, the play will result in a 15-yard penalty.

Any hit on a player away from the play or having nothing to do with the play will also receive a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. The 2002 blind-side block by then Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp on Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton would fall under the category.

Clifton missed the rest of the year with a pelvic injury.

If a defensive personal foul occurs at the end of a period, the offense can extend the period with an untimed down in 2005.

Also officials will implement the infamous "Roy Williams rule," named after the Dallas Cowboys safety, who horse collared Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, among others. Defenders cannot tackle ballcarriers by pulling them down from behind at the top of the shoulder pads. Such a violation will result in a 15-yard penalty. The exceptions include quarterbacks in the pocket and running backs in the tackle box.

The NFL has put in place new rules regarding timeouts as well. If a coach has run out of challenges or timeouts and attempts to make another challenge, his team will receive a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

A 15-yard penalty will also result if a team calls back-to-back timeouts to freeze a kicker. A coach is allowed to call one.

In addition to the changes, the league will emphasize a few rules this year.

Officials will strictly enforce any taunting before or during the game. To demonstrate, the referees showed footage from a fight before the Nov. 14, 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers-Cleveland Browns game, which resulted in ejections for Steelers linebacker Joey Porter and Browns running back William Green.

Illegal touching that redirects a receiver's route after five yards will again be seriously enforced as will any illegal motion before the snap by offensive players.

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