Thirty-One Teams Vote to Make Patriots Punt on Third Down

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patriots ravensIf you can’t beat ’em, change a rule to stop ’em. On Wednesday, the NFL did.  On the final day of the owners meetings in Phoenix, teams voted to eliminate the unconventional eligible/ineligible receiver play that the Patriots used to change the complexion of the AFC divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.  Under the change, “an offensive player wearing the number of an eligible pass receiver who reports as ineligible must line up within the tackle box.” If a team was to use the same play as the Patriots did against the Ravens, it would get flagged for illegal substitution and lose five yards.  Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, who serves on the Competition Committee, announced the rule change on Wednesday.  Against the Ravens, with the Patriots trailing by two touchdowns in the third quarter, running back Shane Vereen was declared ineligible but lined up in the slot, away from the four offensive linemen and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. Vereen was announced as ineligible, and when the ball was snapped, he went backwards as Hoomanawanui ran straight ahead. The Patriots ran the play twice and earned two first downs, much to the ire of Ravens coach John Harbaugh. (read more at the Providence Journal)