That Thing the Patriots Did to the Ravens Is No Longer Legal

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Somebody get this guy a copy of the new rulebook.
Somebody get this guy a copy of the new rulebook.

Forget Deflategate. (Wait, you already have?) There was a certain annoying tactic the New England Patriots used against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round in January, one that was so annoying that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was questioned about it after the game. That question was apparently so annoying to Brady that he simply suggested that the Ravens “should study the rulebook and figure it out.” Well, now it’s illegal.

Here’s what it was. The Patriots exploited a loophole in said rulebook that allowed them to start one guy who had declared himself ineligible to receive (but who wore an eligible number) in the wide receiver spot and start another guy who had declared himself eligible to receive (but who wore an ineligible number) in an offensive tackle spot. The confusion I feel writing that sentence is emblematic of the confusion that the goofy formation is intended to instill in the opposing team. The Patriots used to great effect in the game against the Ravens, which they came from behind to win, 35-31. (And then they went on to eventually win the Super Bowl.)

Anyway, water under the bridge. At least 75 percent of team owners have agreed to the proposed rule change, which means that, were the Patriots to try that stunt now, they would get a five-yard, illegal-substitution penalty.

 

 



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