The Patriots faced a lot of accusations, criticism, and speculation over the years, primarily due to their unprecedented and long-lasting success. However, within that consistent winning came sore losers around the NFL complaining about Bill Belichick’s knowledge of the rule book as he used it to his advantage over opponents.
Because teams around the league couldn’t stand watching the Patriots’ continued dominance and their inability to cope with losing to the Tom Brady-led team again, they would take any opportunity they had to complain to the competition committee about Belichick’s deep understanding of play-calling.
Even though the Patriots were not breaking any rules, the league changed the rules several times to oblige those bitter about losing a football game.
When did this happen to the Patriots?
One of the most memorable rule changes forced by a sad Ravens team came after the Patriots defeated Baltimore in the 2015 divisional playoffs, also known as the Edelman pass to Amendola touchdown game.
Since the Ravens and Patriots had a continued rivalry during the 2000s, John Harbaugh decided to complain about the perfectly legal use of an ineligible receiver lined up outside the tackle box. The head coach threw such a fit it earned him a penalty for taking it out on the referees.
Two months after the game, the NFL chose to ban the play.
And who could forget the play by Shea McClellin in 2017 when he leaped over the Colts’ extra point line to block a punt? It was just the second time a Patriot had successfully blocked a punt in that fashion, but it became the last time with the NFL banning the move a few months later.
Other times rules changed because of the Patriots:
- 2004: Ban of a “defensive player from making contact with a receiver more than five yards downfield,” creating the illegal contact penalty
- 2008: Introduction of defensive helmet radios after Spygate
- 2013: Infamous tuck rule is done away with
- 2015: The enforcement of new pregame football protocols, making teams provide double the amount of footballs they previously had while also handing over their game-chosen footballs earlier
And then, of course, was the Chiefs’ attempt to alter the league’s overtime rules after losing to New England in the 2019 AFC Championship game.
What team is dealing with possible rule changes now?
Despite their Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs last week, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles had an impressive showing. Hurts lit up the football field and accomplished a record-breaking performance with his three rushing touchdowns. But because he was incredibly successful with what is being referred to as the “tush push,” of course, the league has to ban it, right?
According to the former NFL vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, the competition committee will look at the play and likely propose a rule change.
He went on to explain why the NFL takes issue with the play, specifically after watching the Eagles specialize in it all season long, suggesting it doesn’t display enough “athleticism” by the players, which is apparently important enough to the league to abolish a perfectly harmless play.
"“It amounts to a rugby scrum. The NFL wants to showcase the athleticism and skill of our athletes. This is just not a skillful play. This is just a tactic that is not an aesthetically pleasing play, and I think the competition committee is going to take a look at it.’’"
But why take issue with the play now?
According to the rule book, pushing a ball carrier has been legal for the last 18 years, making the timing of considering a ban a bit too coincidental, similar to what the Patriots faced for several years.
"“Pushing a ball carrier to help move him forward has been legal in the NFL since 2005 and in the college game since 2013. But amazingly, the Eagles really have been the first team to weaponize it. After getting a season-long look at it, the league doesn’t like what it sees.”"
Team owners will vote on the proposed change, whatever that may be, at their league meeting in a few weeks. But no matter what the league does, it proves they have not slowed down their continuous attempts to alter legal plays, as seen with the Patriots over the years.
Other changed rules have had a tremendous impact on the game or were even changed years later when they finally realized how ridiculous it was to make the change in the first place.
So how far will the league go? Are the Eagles just the latest victim?