NFL urges refs to target illegal contact fouls for 2022 season


The NFL wants on-field officials to pay special attention to illegal contact fouls by defensive players during the 2022 season.

A spokesperson from the league told ESPN that the penalty is applicable when a defender makes contact with a receiver more than five yards off the line of scrimmage and the quarterback is still in the pocket. 

After the call is administered, officials must document the illegal contact and confirm the position of the ball and quarterback. The flag results in a 5-yard penalty and an automatic first down.

The request comes as the number of illegal contact flags took a sharp drop to 36 calls last season after averaging 97 per year from 2002 to 2020.

Originally referred to as "points of emphasis," the competition committee's emphasis on "points of clarification" for the 2022 season is expected to significantly raise the number of flags as it has the two other times the league put emphasis on the fouls.

Referees are scheduled to take trips to training camps to update teams on new NFL rules that will be enforced in the upcoming season.

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