NFL Owners Pass New Kickoff Rule, Which Should Help Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots


March 22, 2011

The owners had the players' safety on their minds Tuesday when they voted to change the NFL's kickoff rule.

All kickoffs will now take place at the kicking team's own 35-yard line. Before the rule change, all kickoffs were at the kicking team's 30-yard line.

This should increase the number of touchbacks, which will reduce the number of vicious, high-impact hits. It will also take some excitement out of the game because kick returners will have less time to find a hole and take on the distance.

Touchbacks will still be brought out to the 20-yard line, and the return team can still utilize a two-man wedge — when two players lock arms with the intention of creating a wide blocking lane for the returner.

The rule change should help the Patriots because Stephen Gostkowski is one of the strongest kickers in the league, and Bill Belichick likes the way Gostkowski can angle kicks. The rule change should give Gostkowski the chance to boot the ball on a higher trajectory to elicit a return, which could give the Patriots more opportunities to tackle the returner prior to the 20-yard line.

Other rule changes from Tuesday:

All scoring plays subject to replay review
New 'Boise Rule' ensure all fields will be green

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