NFL Rumors: League to Discuss Making Pass Interference Reviewable 'At Length'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: Tommylee Lewis #11 of the New Orleans Saints drops a pass broken up by Nickell Robey-Coleman #23 of the Los Angeles Rams during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C.  Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NFL will reportedly consider making pass interference a reviewable play this offseason in the wake of the shocking non-call against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's NFC Championship. 

“It will be discussed at length along with additional fouls that coaches feel should be subject to review,” a league source told Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

Another high-ranking member of an NFL team confirmed those pending discussions, telling Maske: "And there will be discussion on [replay] review of calls and non-calls."

So blatant was the non-call against Robey-Coleman—who should have been called for either pass interference or a hit on a defenseless receiver after he blasted Tommylee Lewis well before the pass reached him—that even he admitted it should have been a penalty.

"Ah, hell yeah, that was PI," he said after the game, per Nate Davis of USA Today.

"Came to the sideline, looked at the football gods, said, 'Thank you,'" he continued, chuckling. "It is what it is. When you catch breaks in this league, you gotta take advantage. This league is too hard to get a break and you not take advantage of it. The door opened, the door closed—just that quick."

The hit came on third down with 1:45 remaining in the game and the score tied at 20 apiece. Had the pass interference been called, the Saints could have burned the clock and kicked a game-winning field goal, never allowing the Rams another chance. Instead, they kicked the field goal and went up 23-20.

"They blew the call," Saints head coach Sean Payton said, per Maske. "It's a game-changing call ... a tough one to swallow. My problem with it is, if we're playing pickup football in the backyard, it was as obvious a call. How two guys can look at that and come up with their decision—we'll probably never get over it. The truth is—some of these losses—one like that—it's too bad."

Granted, the Saints had several opportunities to shut the door on the Rams' season from there, but couldn't stop Jared Goff from leading L.A. to a game-tying field goal, forcing overtime. The Saints also had the ball first in overtime and could have ended the game with a touchdown, but Drew Brees threw an interception, setting up Greg Zuerlein for an incredible 57-yard field goal to end the game and send the Rams to the Super Bowl.

Judgment calls like pass interference penalties are currently non-reviewable, and at least 24 NFL owners would need to approve making such calls—and non-calls—reviewable plays. But given how blatant this particular non-call was—and that it affected one of the biggest games of the season—it could be enough to prompt changes to the replay system.

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