NFL Owners Approve New Rule Making Pass Interference Reviewable

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2019

FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2019, file photo, Los Angeles Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints' Tommylee Lewis during the second half of the NFL football NFC championship game in New Orleans. The NFL’s competition committee discussed the league’s replay system during its annual meeting in Indianapolis but reached no consensus on possible changes. And it may not recommend any major alterations. Officiating and the use of replays have been under scrutiny since a missed pass interference call and helmet-first hit in the final two minutes of the NFC championship game helped the Los Angeles Rams force overtime and eventually reach the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

NFL owners voted Tuesday to allow replay reviews on pass interference calls as well as non-calls, Dallas Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Coaches will now have the opportunity to challenge pass interference calls or non-calls outside of two minutes of each half, while the booth will automatically review any close calls inside of two minutes.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, both offensive and defensive pass interference calls will now be challengeable.

The Cincinnati Bengals were reportedly the only team to vote against the rule change, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

"People compromised on long-held views because people wanted to get it right," commissioner Roger Goodell said after the vote, per Rapoport.

Head coaches initially wanted even more drastic changes, per Albert Breer of The MMQB:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Sources: The 32 head coaches crafted a proposal to add an official in the booth to oversee "clear and obvious" mistakes on DPI, OPI, roughing the passer, defenseless player rules. The HCs then voted 32-0 to present it. NFL isn't planning a vote on it. Some coaches aren't happy.

Still, NFL owners at least voted this one through.

Mike Triplett @MikeTriplett

Why pass interference? Not just because the Saints were the victims of a PI no-call in the NFC title, but because PI is by far the most impactful penalty call in the NFL because of the yardage involved.

"I think we got it right," New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said Tuesday, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

Payton's Saints lost the NFC Championship Game in part because of a critical missed pass interference call. Late in the fourth quarter with the score tied, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit receiver TommyLee Lewis before a pass arrived on 3rd-and-10 from the Rams' 13-yard line. He wasn't flagged for the play, though, and the Saints had to settle for a field goal and eventually lost in overtime.

The new rule could allow officials to change such a critical call. However, it also might have unintended consequences:

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Some of the immediate reaction to the change has focused on potential for coaches to use them on Hail Mary-type plays. Stephen Jones said owner got assurances from coaches that is not in the spirit of this change

Considering there were 249 pass interference calls last season, per NFLPenalties.com, along with additional violations that went uncalled, this could be a massive rule change for the 2019 season.