A closer look at 12-men proposal and SB46

A closer look at 12-men proposal and SB46
March 25, 2012, 2:53 pm
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PALM BEACH -- With 17 seconds left in Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots had the ball on their own 44 and trailed by 4.

And, as the ball was snapped, the Giants had 12 defenders on the field.

Even though Justin Tuck was on his way off the field and was on the sidelines as the play unfolded, the result of the play -- an incompletion, eight precious seconds coming off the clock and a 5-yard penalty -- highlighted a glitch in the 12-men penalty.

At a point in the game where seconds are more precious than yards, letting an extra defender leak onto the field to defend has some upside, especially if the 12th man helps force an incompletion.

The NFL's Competition Committee will likely close this loophole this week at the league's annual meetings at The Breakers hotel.

Rich McKay, chairman of the Competition Committee, was on PFT Live with Mike Florio last week to discuss this particular proposal.

The proposed change will treat 12-defenders as it's treated in college. If the play is about to happen and there's no move being made to the sidelines, the play will be blown dead pre-snap and 5 yards will be marched off.

If a 12th defender is on his way off the field but doesn't reach the sidelines -- as in the case of Tuck -- the play will continue, a flag will be thrown and the offense will have the option to accept or decline the 5 yards.

In other words, if the proposed rule change were in place for the Super Bowl, nothing would have changed.

That's an important distinction to bear in mind this week if people start incorrectly assuming the Patriots would have gotten those eight seconds back if the rule were already in place.