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NFL discussed 10-second runoff rule change, but Lions didn’t make a formal proposal

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Well, at least they’re not ignoring it completely.

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

As the NFL adopts new rules regarding defining a catch and outlawing lowering of the head in the game, one of the more odd rules that reared its ugly head in 2017 went unaddressed at this week’s owners meetings.

The Detroit Lions were victimized in a fairly unique way against the Atlanta Falcons when officials imposed a 10-second runoff after Golden Tate’s game-winning touchdown was overturned via replay. The runoff expired the game clock, which still had eight seconds remaining after the original call of a touchdown, causing the Lions to lose.

The purpose of the rule is simple: If the call had been correct on the field, there would have been a running clock. Instead, the Lions were essentially given a free timeout with the stoppage of play for a review. Therefore, the league imposed a 10-second runoff to simulate the amount of time it would have taken for the Lions to line up and run another play.

But that amount of time seems arbitrary and outdated, as I wrote back in 2017. And the NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay actually agrees. “Way back it was the idea that maybe most times you could run up to the line on a long play in 15 seconds,” McKay told the Detroit Free Press. “So why don’t we make it 10 so we don’t have anybody feel like we made it too short. And that was (it). It wasn’t science.”

Obviously the game has changed significantly since the 10-second runoff standard was implemented (back in the 1950s, according to former NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino). Yet the NFL competition committee did not discuss the rule in this year’s owners meetings.

However, it has been brought up. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions suggested reducing the runoff to seven seconds back in winter meetings, but did not submit an official proposal for this week’s league meetings.

“The seven seconds, we did talk about,” McKay told Birkett. “And there were people on the committee that didn’t think seven seconds was realistic.”

Teams may not think seven seconds is all that realistic, but the Lions have proven before that a well-prepared team can move a full 27 yards and get in formation in seven seconds exactly.

Much like the catch rule, the league likely won’t take this rule change seriously until the outdated 10-second runoff negatively impacts the game a few more times. We all know the league is incredibly slow at implementing change. But at least McKay admits it’s worth continuing to talk about. “I think it’s personally something we should continue to discuss and probably will.”