National Football League owners do not ratify fourth-and-15 alternative to onside kick

New NFL onside kick alternative tweaked ahead of vote

Approved rules include making permanent the use of automatic replay reviews, expanded defenseless player protections for returners and preventing the manipulation of the game clock by committing dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.

Owners voted Thursday to approve three playing rules changes and one bylaw for the 2020 season.

There was also the concern if there were only a few seconds left, it wouldn't give an National Football League team that behind a fair chance at a comeback. A defensive penalty on the preceding play puts the ball at the 13 1/2-yard line. That was down from 16.4 percent in the five seasons before the new kickoff rules went into effect between 2013 and "17, when teams had 49 successes among 299 onside kicks".

The biggest change to the rules proposal is that it will now be an untimed down.

If you're not familiar with the new fourth-and-15 rule proposal, it would give teams an alternative option to the onside kick. If a team had gotten a first down, it would have retained possession and its drive would have continued at the point at which the play ended.

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(4) The Play Clock will be set to 25 seconds and winds on the ready for play signal.

The NFL Network reports owners opted to table the fourth-and-15 alternative to the onside kick at a virtual league meeting, among other moves. On the other hand, if the offense got penalized, they wouldn't be allowed to then kickoff after the penalty is enforced. Example: the kicking team may not elect to kick after incurring a holding penalty on its one scrimmage down.

If a team elects to try the fourth-and-15 play, the only way it can change its mind is if it calls a timeout BEFORE the referee signals ready for play.

This measure would not have eliminated onside kicks but would have given teams another option that could have been used up to twice per game per team, whether or not that team was trailing.

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