NFL Updates Possible PI Review Rule, Includes Hail Mary, Replay-Initiated Review

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 13, 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 non-call on the play involving Rams Nickell Robey-Coleman in the NFC championship game cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. (Or, at least that's how they see it in New Orleans) After taking tons of flak, then admitting the call was wrong, but doing nothing to alter the outcome of the game, the NFL rule-makers met a few months later and declared pass interference would now be reviewable.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The NFL continues to make changes to its new rule that makes pass interference calls reviewable in an attempt to get uniformity between head coaches and officials. 

Per NFL Football Operations, new changes being considered include having replay officials initiate reviews in the final two minutes of each half and during overtime and making Hail Mary passes subject to review:

NFL Football Operations @NFLFootballOps

Following discussions with head coaches, club personnel, and @NFLOfficiating, the 32 teams have received an update on instant replay review of pass interference. Clubs will have one week to provide additional feedback before the Competition Committee communicates the final rule. https://t.co/dqdKwoxMtQ

By a 31-1 vote in March, NFL owners approved a rule proposal for the 2019 season that makes offensive and defensive pass interference calls and non-calls subject to review. 

Per ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert, there have been growing concerns about the potential number of stoppages to play replay officials "might feel compelled to make," and some head coaches didn't want the responsibility of challenging pass interference in the final two minutes of both halves and overtime:

"During conference calls last week, according to multiple sources, some of them pushed back, in part because of the impact on timeout and challenge strategy. (A coach can't challenge if he's out of timeouts.) This response mirrors the proposal most coaches advocated in March—to convert the replay official into a 'sky judge' who would alert the on-field referee whenever an egregious mistake was made."

Based on the response to the updated plan, the NFL could be in for a messy situation if the rule stays like this when the season starts:

Dan Graziano @DanGrazianoESPN

Gonna be a big mess. https://t.co/sK0TrTbnLX

Adam Hoge @AdamHoge

Would have preferred to see it be a coaches’ challenge under 2 minutes. This will be interesting. https://t.co/zDWk2tDfyE

The decision to make pass interference a reviewable play came after the controversial non-call involving Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman late in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints. 

Robey-Coleman knocked Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis out of the way when a pass was thrown in his direction. A penalty would have given New Orleans a 1st-and-goal on the Rams' 6-yard line with under two minutes remaining. 

Instead of being able to run out the clock before attempting a game-winning field goal, the Saints went ahead 23-20 with 1:41 remaining. The Rams drove down the field to force overtime and eventually won to reach Super Bowl LIII.