Sunday, July 14, 2024

New USFL rules include three-point tries, best-of-three overtime shootout, onside kick alternative

The original USFL included several groundbreaking rule changes that were ultimately adapted by the NFL. Instant replay and coach’s challenges were two of the USFL’s rules that the NFL added, and they continue to play a prevalent role in today’s game. 

On Wednesday, the newly re-created USFL unveiled its own unique rule changes ahead of its spring season. Here are the the most notable changes the league revealed that will differ from its NFL counterpart. 

3-point try 

After scoring a touchdown, USFL teams will have the choice of going for 1, 2 or 3 points. An extra point is the same as it is in the NFL: teams will kick from the 15-yard-line. A two-point conversation will take place from the 2-yard-line. A three-point try, something that the NFL currently does not have, will take place from the 10-yard line. If a team successfully scores on the play, they were be awarded three points, which means that a team can score as many as nine points after scoring a touchdown. 

Onside kick alternative 

While onside kicks are still an option, the USFL will also offer second option for teams that want to try to maintain possession after a score. Teams can choose to try convert one 4th-and-12 play from the 33-yard-line. If they can get 12 yards, they will keep the ball. If they come up short, the opposing team will take possession. The NFL toyed with a similar idea during the Pro Bowl, as teams had a chance to maintain possession if they were able to convert on a 4th-and-15 play from their own 25-yard-line. 

Clock stoppages 

Unlike the NFL, the clock will stop following a first down during the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters. According to the league, this should create more offensive plays during the end of each half while “adding excitement before halftime and at the end of the game.”  

Overtime shootout 

USFL overtimes will feature a best-of-three scoring format where each offense will get the ball at the opponent’s 2-yard-line. If the two teams are still tied after three attempts, overtime will go into sudden death. 

After a 37-year hiatus, the eight-team USFL will first play a 10 week regular season that will begin on Saturday, April 16 with a prime-time matchup between the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions. The league announced last month that their inaugural postseason will take place inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio starting on June 25. The top two teams from each division will play in the semifinals on the weekend of June 25, with the USFL Championship Game taking place on Sunday, July 3.

Financial challenges and an unsuccessful attempt to move the league from the spring to the fall largely contributed to the league’s short existence during the 1980s. Along with implementing several innovations, the original USFL produced several future prominent NFL figures that included future Bills coach Marv Levy, quarterbacks Steve Young and Jim Kelly, running back Herschel Walker, pass rusher Reggie White, linebacker Sam Mills, and offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman, among others. 

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