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NFL owners adopt new catch rule

ORLANDO, Fla. – NFL owners voted to adopt four new rules at their annual league meetings Tuesday in Orlando, most notably one that "changes [the] standard for a catch."

Under the new rule, a receiver needs only to control the ball with two feet or another body part down while making a football move such as taking a third step or extending the ball. The new rule eliminates the need for the receiver to maintain possession of the ball through the ground.


Adam Shaheen makes a touchdown catch last season against the Lions.

The NFL competition committee made the proposal in an attempt to simplify and clarify a confusing rule that had led to a handful of plays that were ruled catches on the field controversially overturned following replay reviews.

One of the plays that was overturned from a touchdown to an incompletion that no longer would be changed under the new rule involved Bears tight end Zach Miller. Last season against the Saints, Miller caught a pass with two feet down in the end zone and didn't let go of the ball until he sat down after suffering a gruesome knee injury.

Another rule that passed Tuesday will make it illegal for any player anywhere on the field to lower his head to initiate contact with the helmet. Owners will reportedly determine whether ejections could result from violating the rule at their meetings in May.

The two other rules that passed Tuesday involve making permanent the spotting of the ball at the 25-yard line after a touchback following a free kick, and authorizing a member of the officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to eject a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that act is called on the field.

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