Before the playoffs kick off this weekend, the NFL implemented a temporary rule change that will prevent an instant replay of what happened earlier this season in the New York Giants-Philadelphia Eagles game.
From now on, time remaining on the game clock will be reviewable but will be limited to situations in which time is deemed to have expired or not expired prior to, during or after the last play of the first or second half, or of an overtime half, according to a memo that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent to the 32 teams.
The rule adjustment goes back to the Dec. 13 Giants-Eagles game. Just before halftime, Giants kick returner Domenik Hixon fumbled the football and Eagles linebacker Moise Fokou recovered, but the clock seemingly ran out. Replay evidence suggested there still was at least a second remaining, but replay rules did not permit the play to be reviewed.
As Goodell wrote in the memo: "At the conclusion of the first half, time will not be restored if the additional play would be a kickoff, but would be restored if a timing error takes away a significant opportunity for the offensive team to score. At the conclusion of the second half or an overtime half, time shall be restored to the game clock if:
(a) It is a one-score game (eight points or less); and
(b) The additional play would be a kickoff by either team or a snap from scrimmage by the team that is behind in the score. The game would not be extended to create an additional play by the team that is ahead.
For a review, the official time on the game clock will be superimposed on the video replay."
This adjustment will be in effect only through the conclusion of 2009 postseason games; the Competition Committee will review it this offseason and make a recommendation about whether it should be kept or abolished for future seasons.
Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.