Report: Competition Committee Will Look At Ravens’ Holding Play During Offseason Rules Proposals


Earlier this week, we brought to you an idea floated by Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh about a rule change that would award the kicking team a point if the ball on the kickoff went through the uprights. Harbaugh happens to have arguably the best big-leg kicker in the game, and that kicker, Justin Tucker, shockingly agreed with his head coach about the proposal.

But it sounds as though the NFL’s Competition Committee may be looking at a different proposal relating to the Ravens, and perhaps one that they will not like. You may recall that the Ravens ended their Sunday victory over the Bengals by drawing no less than nine holding penalties on a 12-second punt play in order to drain the clock without actually exposing themselves to transferring possession.

Many argued that this play constituted a palpably unfair act, which would allow the officials to use their discretion in order to determine the appropriate level of discipline for the act. The intention on Baltimore’s play was obvious, so the discipline would likely reward the Bengals the ball with time on the clock, or something to that effect.

According to NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, the league is aware of this, and it is something that they are going to examine during the offseason. He spoke on NFL Network, saying that what the Ravens did “is kind of a loophole”. And they tend to try to close loopholes in their rules.

“All the Ravens players pick a Bengals player out and just hold him”, he said, describing the nature of the play. “The idea is, ‘we just want to bleed the clock’”. He added, “I think you’ll see the competition committee review this”.


You may recall that it was only a couple of years ago that the Ravens were the beneficiary of a rule change that stemmed from a play run against them by the Patriots that at the time was considered legal, pertaining to how and when the offense was able to declare a player an eligible receiver in order to avoid confusion—the confusion being intentional.

The Ravens were upset about the play that the Patriots ran against them, in spite of the fact that it was within the rules as they were written, even if it was clearly pushing the boundaries of the spirit of the rule.

Now they are likely to be on the other side of the coin, finding themselves as the ones pushing the boundaries of the rule, and in doing so exposing one of the ‘loopholes’ that need closing. But, of course, the Ravens were able to get away with running that play when they needed to run it.

The odds of them facing that exact same set of circumstances that would result in them needing to run that play again—or at least to face that situation more than one or twice in the near future—is likely pretty slim. But it wouldn’t surprise me if Harbaugh were to get upset if it were addressed in the rule evaluations over the spring and summer.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • rdjmsr53

    just read that a Vikings player is complaining about the refs, Bradford go to hit in the face and nothing was called. seems to be a lot of complaining this year. SOMe may we need full time refs, I say it’s the Ed league Controlling thee comes outcome.

  • Nolrog

    >>> that would award the kicking team a point if the ball on the kickoff went through the uprights.That’s the dumbest proposal I ever heard.

  • Nolrog

    He was hit in the helmet. There was no question about it. That was a penalty that didn’t get called.

  • Rob S.

    A Harbaugh, any Harbaugh will be upset when things don’t go his way. Did you see his brothers tantrum last week against Ohio State? Best part was, all the calls and rules interpretations were correct. Watching him try to put on that broken headset might have been the most satisfying thing I have ever seen. Would only be second to a similar reaction by Johnny boy on Christmas day.

  • Rob S.

    Are you sure it wasn’t Cam?

  • DoctorNoah

    Harbaugh is a douchenozzle, but someone explain to me how Blandino can tweet that only if he did it again would it be palpably unfair.

  • J.

    49ers pulled a similar stunt from the defensive side when they held all the opponents receivers. Of course the penalty was called but time used up forced the saints (i think thats who it was) to kick a field goal before half time rather than getting to take a shot at the endzone. 49ers still lost big so Im guessing that is why no one is bringing it up in relation to this game.

  • JNick

    It’s easy. An egregious foul at the end of the game, to gain an advantage is a 15 yard penalty and loss of down for the offense, or 15 yards and replay down for the defense.

  • JohnB

    One more thing to slow the game down. Piling rule after rule on part time refs.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    I think if there less than 1 minute and punter is kicking from his end zone, multiple holding calls should result in a safety, a kick and at least 1 play for the other team.

  • dany

    nfl tries to close loopholes after someone uses them, brilliant

  • Lizard72

    I get that the holding calls can’t extend the game, but there should have been at least one Personal Foul called for the Rear Naked Choke hold! Problem is if they do make them kick it, you really only have one chance at a return or a free kick (that wouldn’t have mattered) because of the score.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    This shouldn’t even be considered by the competition committee. What the Pats did was directly against the spirit of the substitution rules. Therefore a loophole. What rule does the Baltimore punt holding go against the spirit of? I don’t see a loophole. Also, this would happen rarely and only at the very end of a game. What the Pats did, can happen all game long, every game. It could effectively change the game drastically.

    We are going to be adding in more rules into an incredibly thick rule book. They should be trying to simplify the rules for the officials. So what that they held intentionally? Many holds and pass interferences are intentional. This isn’t much different that kneeling on the ball. It is just that it was 4th down, so they milked the last of the clock.

  • dennisdoubleday

    How about just saying the game (or half) can’t end on an offensive penalty, either?

  • RickM

    Congrats for calling the C.C. review. I doubt Harbaugh will fight it as he wasn’t called a ‘cheater’ for doing it and he’ll actually be proud that he was creative. It’s also so infrequent and every team can just use it now.

    As most suggested, they’ll just make it impossible for the half to end on an O penalty. The other mentioned option yesterday, a reverse 10 second run-off on the O (adding 10 seconds to the clock) is way too radical and harsh as there could be totally innocent O penalties. It also has the potential of making games even longer.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s like fool me once, shame on me, fool me once, shame on you.