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Old 02-04-2013   #1
srrono
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Default Holding on intentional safety exposes loophole in rules

In Super Bowl XLVI, the unintended use of an extra man on defense exposed a loophole that the NFL promptly closed. In Super Bowl XLVII, another loophole has been exposed.

But this one will be harder to remedy.

Facing fourth and seven from their own eight and clinging to a five-point lead, the Ravens opted to take an intentional safety. The clock showed 12 seconds at the snap, and the Ravens were able to milk eight of those ticks as punter Sam Koch moved to the back corner of the end zone.

Helping Koch delay as long as possible his exit from the field of play were multiple Ravens players who held 49ers defenders who were trying to get to Koch more quickly. And while a flag for holding inexplicably wasnít thrown, the outcome would have been no different. Holding in the end zone by the offensive team triggers a safety, and thatís exactly what the Ravens were willing to concede.

Under the circumstances, avoiding the safety was irrelevant. Using as much time as possible was the goal.

The challenge comes from finding an acceptable way to address the situation. For a play that ends in a safety with a holding penalty committed in the end zone, the most obvious solution would be to enforce the penalty on the free kick, moving the ball from the 20 to the 10. But that wonít remedy the fact that a deliberate penalty created a strategic advantage by taking time off the clock.
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