The 1990 NFL season was the 71st regular season of the National Football League. To increase revenue, the league changed the regular season so that all NFL teams would play their 16-game schedule over a 17-week period. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams by adding another wild card from each conference, thus adding two more contests to the postseason schedule; this number remains in use now.
The rule for unnecessary roughness penalties is clarified so that any player who butts, spears, or rams an opponent is ejected.
The penalty for an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage is enforced from the spot where any part of the passer's body is beyond the line when the ball is released.
The following changes are made to try to speed up the game:
The time interval on the Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) after time outs and other administrative stoppages has been reduced from 30 seconds to 25 seconds (the time interval between plays remains the same at 45 seconds).
Whenever a player goes out of bounds, other than in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half or overtime, the game clock immediately starts when the ball is spotted for the next play and the Referee signals it is ready for play.
Other than in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half or overtime the game clock also starts following all declined penalties.