Pass Interference Needs To Be Added to Reviewable Plays

andy millerCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2008

We see it every week in the NFL. A pass interference call ruins a game, hands a team a victory when it did not deserve it, and deprives another team of a possible win.


Sometimes the offense gets away with a call, sometimes it is the defense. Most of the time, it is a very pivotal call. Yesterday was no exception.


In Minnesota, the Vikings stole a win from the Lions when cornerback Leigh Bodden got called for a pass interference penalty late in the Lions' 12-10 heartbreaking loss.


Detroit led, 10-9, against their rivals, and had the Vikings in a 2nd-and-20 situation at the Minnesota 32. Vikings QB Gus Frerotte threw a bomb down the right sideline for wide receiver Aundrae Allison.


Bodden contested the play, made the absolute slightest of touch on Allison’s shoulder, never gaining anything close to an illegal advantage, and out came the flag. Not only did it bail the Vikings out of 2nd-and-20, it put the Vikings into FG range.


Moments later, they converted, and the Lions were deprived of their first win of the year.


"I did everything right," Bodden said. "They just called it the way they called it."


Earlier in the game, Calvin Johnson was charged with a fumble that should have been called down, but even after reviewing the call on replay, the refs managed to somehow still get it wrong.


This must have been upsetting to Lions fans, but I will say at least they tried to get it right. The call was made on the field (incorrectly), they replayed it, got it wrong, but at least replay gave the fans comfort in that everything possible was done to get it right.


With pass interference, it does not matter if everyone in the stadium knows the right call, one nitwit ref throws a flag, and there is a penalty.


And not just any old penalty. A devastating penalty.


An automatic first down (in this case, getting the Vikes out of 2nd-and-20 in a game where 20 yards seemed like 200 yards) or 30, 40, or 50 yards, or putting the ball at the one for 1st-and-1, basically giving the offense a touchdown.


“Don’t bother calling us with an apology,” a visibly upset Bodden said after the game. “I don’t want to hear it. It won’t change anything. If they can’t call us and say that they’re giving us back a win that was taken away, then they shouldn’t even bother with it.”


Some fans might still be upset that Denver was given a win in the “Hochuli” game a few weeks back. On Sunday, they were on the short end of the stick. It was not quite as bad as the Bodden play, and did not hand Jacksonville the win the way the refs handed it to the Vikings, but it sure did help the Jags.


Broncos safety Marlon McCree was whistled for a pass interference call that was clearly not valid. And it effectively ended the game, giving the Jags a first down, and allowed them to run out the clock in Bronco territory in their seven-point win.


When asked if he felt it was the right call, Denver coach Mike Shanahan said, "I'd bet a dollar to doughnuts that it wasn't."


Broncos linebacker Jamie Winborn was a little more forthcoming.


"That call killed us, which was a terrible, terrible call."  


The Broncos may have also been frustrated by an equally brutal pass interference call on Dre Bly earlier in the game.


Would Denver have won without these calls? Maybe. Without this brutal call, Jacksonville would have been facing 3rd-and-8 at its own 41 with a crazed Denver crowd screaming their lungs out.


Garrard may have made a play and converted the first down. Denver may have forced a turnover. It sounds like it would have been a fun play to watch, but NFL fans did not get to see it. Instead, we got to see a 60-year-old man throw a yellow flag.


These are huge calls—game changers. They need to be reviewable, and they need to be reviewable now. They are way too important. They are devastating calls. The only reason they would not be reviewable is to coddle the refs on the field and not undermine their authority.


You know what?


I don’t give a crap about them. And I don’t give a crap about NFL Head of Officials, Mike Pereira, and his weekly spin-segment on the NFL Network.


I care about the players, and I care about the fans. And frankly, I did not have a rooting interest in either one of these games mentioned above. I just like football, and like every fan, want the game decided on the field, not by some random yellow flag that comes out at an inopportune time.


I think every fan would be willing to add a possible 5-10 minutes of game time if it meant allowing a referee in the booth to review a potentially game-changing call.


These calls were not questionable, they were dead wrong. Why not do all we can to fix it?


Why not do all we can to insure that every Sunday, teams win and lose based on what is done by the players?