The on-field referee — not the official in the booth — will continue to handle replay reviews in the 2012 season after NFL owners voted down a proposal to revert to the old system of having an official upstairs handle replays.
The Buffalo Bills, who proposed the change, made a strong case that allowing the upstairs official to decide replay reviews would streamline the process and shorten the delays during games while the referee goes under the hood to review plays. But the Bills failed to persuade a three-fourths majority of their fellow teams to adopt the change.
Where the replay rule has changed is on turnovers: Now all plays where there’s a turnover will be automatically reviewed by the replay assistant, and if that assistant thinks it’s a close enough call that it warrants a closer look, he’ll buzz down to the on-field referee to take that closer look. That’s the same change that was made with scoring plays a year ago, and it will mean the coaches will no longer have the option of throwing their red challenge flag on turnovers.
But what will remain the same is that referees will continue to have final say over all replays.