ORLANDO — Five rules changes, an extensive crackdown on on-field taunting and abusive language and a two-game preseason experiment that will move extra-point attempts from the 2-yard line to the 20 (effectively a 38-yard try) will bring a new look to the 2014 NFL season.
Representatives from all 32 teams unanimously approved three rules changes Wednesday adding to the two adjustments ratified Tuesday as the three-day owners meetings concluded.
Among the changes approved Wednesday:
— Raising of goal post uprights from 30 to 35 feet.
— The so-called "NaVorro Bowman Rule" (named for the San Francisco 49ers linebacker) which makes plays in which a loose ball is recovered subject to replay review. The alteration stems from Bowman's recovery of an apparent fumble by Seattle Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse that was instead blown dead by an official's whistle in January's NFC Championship Game with no review under previous rule.
— The game clock will no longer be stopped after a quarterback sack during the final two minutes of either half.
— A proposal by the New England Patriots to move the extra point attempt from the 2 to the 25-yard line was tabled. But the competition committee's recommendation to have a two-game preseason experiment with extra points snapped from the 20 is now in effect, adding some excitement to a virtually automatic play.
More significant than raising the uprights was a concerted move to raise the standard of player conduct on the field.
"In the past, taunting/sportsmanship was in the back of the book under points of emphasis. It is now a front-of-the-book issue." competition committee member and St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "We want to put it back in the back of the book."
The emphatic crackdown on taunting will result in more 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct because Fisher said the league is trying to set the standard for college football and other youth levels of the game.
"The NCAA is hoping for us to do something at our level. And we have to take the lead, and we're going to do that," Fisher said.
"With respect to sportsmanship on the playing field, the committee agreed after looking at a lot of tape and talking to a lot of entities, we agreed we had an issue on the field. And we agreed we're going to get it under control as soon as we possibly can."
Taunting penalties increased from nine in 2012 to 34 infractions last season.
"We're going to clean the game up on the field between the players — the in-your-face taunting, those type of things, the language," Fisher said, noting it will be an enforcement of current unsportsmanlike penalty rules. "We're going to raise the standard. ... We are going to affect change immediately as early as the OTAs when players come back. We've got to change our conduct on the field.
"We've got to bring the element of respect to the highest level back to our game."
Fisher said that the enforcement against abusive taunting will include banning racial or sexually offensive slurs. He added that locker room conduct was a large part of the discussion following the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal in Miami.
It was no surprise the rule to heighten the uprights was proposed by the Patriots.
Coach Bill Belichick was so incensed about a controversial last-second field goal by Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker that sailed over the uprights in a 31-30 Ravens win during the 2012 season that he grabbed a replacement official's shirt, demanding an explanation.
One of the rule changes that passed Tuesday was the Rule Proposal 9, which says the on-field referee can consult with vice president of officiating Dean Blandino in the league's New York City command center on controversial replays.
"We expect it to speed up the process in that we can communicate with the referee immediately as soon as he's done making his announcement as to what we're going to look at, what he's going to see so there isn't that delay of game over to the monitor, putting the headset on and having that 45-second discussion," Blandino said. "So we think it will be more efficient and accurate."
A new safety measure was also approved to increase protection for players from having the sides of their legs rolled up by blockers.
Three other proposals failed including one to move the kickoff from the 35 to the 40-yard line, another expanding instant replay to include personal foul penalties and one that would have allowed coaches to challenge any official's decision.
Five other proposals were tabled, including putting six fixed cameras on the boundary lines.