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NFL changes rules to prevent 49ers-Saints holding play happening multiple times

The NFL has decided it is a palpably unfair act, and is offering up what is surely going to be an inconsistent rule.

Two weeks ago, the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff made a smart decision late in the first half against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were at the 49ers 13-yard line with eight seconds left in the second quarter. Drew Brees attempted a pass, but during the play, three 49ers defensive backs held their opposing receiver. Two were fairly basic holds, while Eric Reid tackled his receiver.

It left four seconds on the clock, and the Saints kicked the field goal to end the half. It says something about the coach’s faith in the defense, but it saved four points. It did not matter in the blowout loss, but it is obviously something other teams will consider.

Not anymore. According to SI NFL reporter Greg Bedard, the league is making an adjustment for this kind of play:

If it happens more than once, the officials have been instructed to call a 15-yard, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a “palpably unfair act,” according to a league source and the time would be put back on the clock.

I find it odd that the NFL has decided once is alright, but a second time is taking it too far. Are teams getting the benefit of the doubt the first time it happens? I am not entirely sure what to make of this.

For those wondering, the term “palpably unfair act” is in the rulebook. It is under rule 12, which covers player conduct. Section three covers unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and Article 3 states, “A player or substitute shall not interfere with play by any act which is palpably unfair.” So, effectively, the NFL has a blank check to implement the rule as they see fit. That sounds reasonable. /sarcasm.