The NFL has changed the rules about what can and cannot be reviewed on instant replay. But the league has decided not to allow coaches to challenge any call they want.
The “NaVorro Bowman rule,” so named because of a bad call on a great play by Bowman in the NFC Championship Game, was approved by the NFL’s owners today. That means that recovery of a loose ball in the field of play can now be reviewed on instant replay. Under the old rules, if the officials on the field got the call wrong on a recovered fumble, the referee did not have the authority to use replay to get it right — even in cases like Bowman’s fumble recovery, which was clearly ruled wrongly on the field.
But the owners voted down a proposal brought forward by Patriots coach Bill Belichick to allow coaches to challenge any call they want. Belichick argued that if there’s an indisputable replay angle that shows a call was clearly wrong, and if a coach wants to use one of his challenges to get that call right, he should be allowed to do so. But the owners have decided to continue limiting replay only to certain clearly defined plays.
One of those plays will now be recovery of a loose ball — a no-brainer rules change that came too late to give Bowman proper credit for the great play he made in the NFC Championship.