NFL makes changes after Alex Smith hidden ball trick vs Steelers

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images /

The NFL had to update its officiating rules thanks to a loophole exposed by Alex Smith.

A weird thing happened Tuesday night as the Washington Football Team took on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Halftime was approaching and Alex Smith decided to run the ball to the sidelines as time ran down and his team’s field goal unit came on. The refs ended up stopping the clock to get a new ball and Washington was able to kick a field goal when otherwise time likely would have ran out.

The Steelers were not happy and the NFL addressed the issue this week by adjusting the end-of-half procedures. ProFootballTalk shared the new rules in place.

NFL clarifies rules for refs

The main focus here is the officials not stopping the clock in such a situation. With under 20 seconds left they need to grab any available football if the one specifically for kicking is not ready to go. If the quarterback runs off with the ball they need the next closest one.

If they do need to stop the clock, they have to restart as soon as possible and not huddle up like they did Tuesday night.

For those who didn’t know, there are separate footballs specifically for kicking in the NFL. If those aren’t ready to go the refs need to grab any available football and avoid a stoppage.

The change is the part about the clock being under 20 seconds. Before, 10 seconds was the benchmark. Overall, the NFL doesn’t want the refs stopping the clock for any unnecessary reason. Tweaking the rules reiterates that point.

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Smith’s move gave Washington points in the first half. Those proved to be valuable as the game ended with a final score of 23-17. However, Pittsburgh had a right to be angry and the NFL is trying to make sure this never happens again.