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NFL outlaws tactic used by Patriots in AFC playoff win over Ravens

PHOENIX — Will it be known as the Ravens rule?

An NFL competition committee proposal to “make it illegal for an offensive player with an eligible number to report as ineligible and line up outside the core of the formation” got the necessary 75 percent approval from team owners during the final day of the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore resort.

That means that a tactic the New England Patriots used in their comeback, 35-31, victory over the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC divisional playoff game in January will be penalized going forward.

“That player had an eligible number and he was lined up outside of the tackle box,” said Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, when asked specifically about whether the new rule would outlaw the tactic that the Patriots used against the Ravens. “You will no longer be allowed to wear (an ineligible number) outside the tackle box.

The proposal to change the rule was made by the competition committee, which includes Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

In their AFC divisional round playoff victory over the Ravens, the Patriots had running back Shane Vereen, who was lined up as a wide receiver, declare himself ineligible while tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, lined up as an offensive tackle, was eligible. The Ravens struggled to pick up on who was eligible and who wasn’t as the Patriots drove down the field for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh took a 15-yard penalty during the drive when he walked onto the field to tell head referee Bill Vinovich that the Ravens defense wasn’t getting enough time to decipher who was eligible and who wasn’t.


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