NaVorro Bowman rule passes, reviewing everything fails


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.

51 responses to “NaVorro Bowman rule passes, reviewing everything fails

  1. I wish they would would consider making defensive PI a 10 or 15 yard penalty. I can’t understand for the life of me how a spot foul is justified….especially in this protection era of football.

  2. I think the bigger problem seen from before is what if the play was whistled done will that negate a review?

  3. Even Seahawks fans were shaking their heads that the Bowman fumble recovery was a non-reviewable play. Glad they got that fixed, but it is baffling why it wasn’t a reviewable play in the first place.

  4. They definitely got this one right. However, I still don’t quite understand their hesitancy to just allow coaches to challenge anything they want. The fact that they only have 2 to 3 challenges to begin with would assumedly keep this from getting out of control.

  5. Great Linebacker, and Great rule change. I was so pissed after seeing that replay and us not being awarded possession. Luckily, Lynch fumbled and it didn’t become that big of a blow to us.

    God speed on the recovery Bo, God speed.

  6. Of course “reviewing everything” failed. I realize that everyone on this site thinks the Patriots are placed on a pedestal by the league, but rarely do their ideas go anywhere.

    Belichick doesnt offer up suggestions for rules changes just for the hell of it, his offerings are almost always dead on. Why not allow a coach to challenge everything??? How many times in a season do you watch a replay of a play that is clear as day, only to see a ref say “sorry coach, it isnt a challengeable play”…

    It isnt like Belichick is saying coaches should have more challenges, he is simply saying they should be able to use their 2 challenges for anything they want. If you want to challenge a holding call in the first quarter, and risk having no challenges in the 4th quarter, that is your own business. But the concept that only “certain plays are reviewable” is bogus

  7. I admit that call vs Seattle was the wrong call and that the 49ers shouldve had the ball, but an NFL game lasts 4 quarters. They had as many chances as they needed to win the game, so im tired of these 9er fans saying they were robbed. Next excuse. (this is from an Eagles fan)

  8. Glad that at least passed…

    I would rather they specify what plays can’t be challenged instead of what plays can. Thus, they would have to make an argument why a play isn’t worth spending the time to get it right.

    Given that the coach would only have the two challenges (3 if he wins the first one) it would seem to make sense to allow more latitude in the decision to challenge.

    Hope it gets revisited next year.

  9. You need to get the calls right. A coach should be able to challenge any call on field and you shouldn’t lose any challenges if the coach is right. In 16 games 1 game can control your season. to much involved to get calls wrong.

  10. It always takes someone getting seriously hurt before they make a rule change. But I guess this is good. I really want to know if they are going to vote on challenging “roughing the passer” or “head first tackle” calls to get those right. Those uptight calls ruined a lot of games for a lot of teams, including my Niners last year.

    I understand they will still be uptight with those calls for players safety. But if our coach wants to use a challenge flag to get it reviewed there shouldn’t be a problem. With the same number of challenge flags available I don’t see it slowing the game down as much as some would have us think.

  11. Take it out of coaches hands. Ref in the booth. Everyone watching tv and replays can see what happens. So can a ref. A red button to stop play for review, green for clear to continue. Why is this so hard? Stop walking the refs off and on the field and waiting for the dumb flag. A decision would be made and the game resumed by the time the refs start for the monitors.

  12. Thank god.

    People will complain about how this will slow the game down, but I think we can all agree that watching a player make the incredible play that NaVorro Bowman did while having his knee ligaments torn apart just so that it can be robbed from him, his team, their season, and his career, because of a weak technicality is unfair.

    Coming from a Dolphins fan, I felt robbed of the fairness this league is supposed to represent.

    I understand that these men volunteer to play such a violent game, but could we at least get the calls right for them?

  13. too bad they couldnt review the roughing the punter call. or countless other ones that shafted the niners that game… the niner fans would be saying quest for seven. such a horrible officiated game.

  14. Yeah, we’re going to pass on being right about everything. That’s just too much.

  15. Too bad Bowman had to suffer a serious injury before the rule changed. Early reports are he’s doing well in his rehab, which is great news. Still, it makes you wonder why loose ball play reviews weren’t allowed before. Definitely a head-scratcher…

  16. Bowman > Willis….die hard Niner fan. Love them both but I have to call it how I see it. I’ve seen every snap of their pro careers and I never thought I’d see a LB better then Willis for this era never mind him being on the same team.

  17. I’m still amazed they can’t get the review thing right. Why do coaches challenge calls? Because they think the referee got it wrong. It should be simple. The coach throws the flag, he is calling for a review of the play to ensure the referee got the call right. Done. You still limit the challenges. Lets not make the rules worse than our own tax code.

  18. briank1ne says:
    Mar 26, 2014 10:33 AM
    too bad they couldnt review the roughing the punter call. or countless other ones that shafted the niners that game… the niner fans would be saying quest for seven. such a horrible officiated game.


    The refs didn’t catch Vernon Davis holding on almost every Kapernick run. They also took away a 1st & 10 inside the 49ers 35 on a phantom holding call against the Seahawks. The plain-clothes 49er player who clothes-lined Jeremy Lane out of bounds was also missed. Bad calls and no-calls even out. Cry a river if you want, but the 49ers lost the game on Kap’s 3 turnovers in the last 3 drives, not the officiating.

  19. @briank1ne

    I’ll give you the roughing the punter call although I think it was a close call at full speed and the way punters tend to flop at times…I’ll give you that as a blown call. How about the forearm shiver by the niner’s trainer on Jeremy Lane? How about the fact that you had NO answer for Seattle’s run defense (except when Kaep was scrambling for his life). And how about THREE Kaepernick turnovers in the fourth quarter when he had to be an actual passer? You are in denial about how well your team actually played football in that game.

  20. Belichick is dead-on. If a coach only gets two challenges a game or whatever it is what difference does it make for what play he use one/them on? He didn’t suggest more challenges just more plays to challenge.

    I don’t care what team you’re a fan of but we’ve all seen bogus pass interference calls, especially since the league has started to favor the offenses. There’s not a more damaging call in the game in my opinion than a pass interference call on a pass heaved 50 yards down the field and replays show it was clearly a bad call. If there are going to be 50 yard penalties, or longer, then the call must be right because more often then not they can be game-changers. And there’s nothing more maddening than an atrocious call on a play like that.

    If the league doesn’t want to open up for review all pass interference calls for challenge, then at least allow the challenge for interference calls for over, let’s say, 40 yards.

    At least it would be a step in the right direction.

  21. Good change, it was needed.

    You know what DESPERATELY needs fixing – the Pass Interference rule. Bring back the 5 yd version or make it a flat out 15 yard penalty like in college.

    The stupid un-catchable 60 yd pass that gets flagged is ridiculous and changes momentum and outcomes far too often.

  22. briank1ne says:
    Mar 26, 2014 10:33 AM
    too bad they couldnt review the roughing the punter call. or countless other ones that shafted the niners that game… the niner fans would be saying quest for seven. such a horrible officiated game.
    Yet, no 9er fan is complaining about Kaep kicking his fumble away from a Seahawk player.

    What were the “countles other ones that shafted the niners?”

    Both teams are brutal on D. Both D’s got away with things. S.F. got outplayed in the second half. After being up 10, S.F. was outscored 23-7. Kaep got very little rushing yards in the second half from designed runs, and busted plays.

    It was those two types of runs that hurt Seattle in the first half. Seattle’s adjustments for the second half were much better than S.F.

    Plus, 3 turnovers by Kaep in the 4th qtr is what ‘shafted’ the niners.

  23. “achillesofwooters says:
    Mar 26, 2014 10:04 AM
    Even Seahawks fans were shaking their heads that the Bowman fumble recovery was a non-reviewable play. ”

    The Seattle fans were so shocked they took out their frustration by pelting NaVorro Bowman with trash and beer bottles as he left the field on a cart.

  24. I’m glad for the change that was the wrong call.

    I’m not on board with a couple of you guys acting like that game was decided by referees though. Grow a pair.

    Same to the people complaining about the “pi no calls in the NFC west”… The Hawks play defense less physical than it used to be. Their little hand checks aren’t knocking people off their routes. The offenses have had their way with defenses in the last few years because defenses have lost all leverage in the rule books.

    Find something legitimate to complain about.

  25. Granadafan says:

    The Seattle fans were so shocked they took out their frustration by pelting NaVorro Bowman with trash and beer bottles as he left the field on a cart.


    Misinformation. There was 1 fan who threw popcorn at him. It was not multiple fans throwing bottles and trash dude quit trumping it up.

    As a hawks fan I admit the dude that threw the popcorn is a piece of bleep. If you’re going to re tell the story though my brother, don’t tell it so it doesn’teven resemble the facts.

  26. granadafan says:
    Mar 26, 2014 11:57 AM
    “achillesofwooters says:
    Mar 26, 2014 10:04 AM
    Even Seahawks fans were shaking their heads that the Bowman fumble recovery was a non-reviewable play. ”

    The Seattle fans were so shocked they took out their frustration by pelting NaVorro Bowman with trash and beer bottles as he left the field on a cart.
    While I don’t condone what happened. Please find the video showing trash and beer bottles.

    It was popcorn. Nothing more. Like I said, I don’t condone what happened, but I’ve seen worse done by other fan bases.

    I hope Bowman comes back strong. It was a nasty injury.

  27. I agree PI needs to be fixed it’s almost to the point where a team can just run a WR downfield with instructions to bump into whomever is covering them and get 30+ yards out of it.

    Also on the list:

    “spike” play … at least make it 5 yds & loss of down and stop rewarding teams that blow timeouts “because they didn’t like the coverage”

    Intentional grounding ONLY if the QB is being engaged by a defensive player regardless of where he is on the field.

    No contact after 5 yards / while the ball is in the air should apply to BOTH offensive and defensive players until the ball is caught or run past the line of scrimmage. Sick of seeing the pick routes, WRs blocking 10 yards downfield on underneath passes before the ball is thrown, etc.

  28. Seattle fans, congratulations first for your first SB WIN. You in turn should give thanks to the rule that could not be challenged. It is what is is, it made a huge difference in the possible outcome. We fans need to move on, because hanging on to what if’s keeps us from moving forward. It was not Seattle that created the non rule in the first place. We know it had an outcome that caused the rule to change almost immediately.

  29. why are we always looking for ways to shorten the most popular watch game in the world? does the NFL Network need more shows top 10 controversial plays that cost losing teams championships? they have the technology to boat on dancing with stars or american idol why can’t we vote on plays the viewers the fans why can’t we get every play correct? I’d love the games to be longer I’d love for the season to be year round! why can’t we have half the league play on one Sunday and the other half of the league play the following Sunday? I feel bad for the players they train all off season to make dick butkus type plays and then get fined for it when they do. The NFL is the best by far entertaining product going… give us more not less!!!

  30. Agree with the people complaining about defensive PI on long passes. My take is that it’s often a reward for a poor throw by a QB. Overthrow a ball by a yard? It’s incomplete. Put a ball on target, it’s easier to catch, but it’s also easier to defend. Underthrow a ball by 7 yards, it’s a 50 yard penalty.

    WRs are also flopping/flailing more now in an effort to draw flags. The most hilarious is when the WR slows down to draw contact and then he fails to make a leaping catch when the ball goes over his head.

  31. Shocking…Niners fan still crying about this and suggesting that one non-call made a “huge difference in the possible outcome of the game”. Crowning themselves SB winners IF the refs would have awarded Bowman possession with this Quest for Seven BS. Get over it. You lost. It had nothing to do with the botched call. It had everything to do with your mediocre QB trying the best corner in the league against a sorry receiver. Those three turnovers Kaep had in three possessions also didn’t help your cause any.

  32. Reviewing everything fails? Yea, that would be too obvious for the one track mind owners whose only concern is that it might negatively impact their revenues in some way.

  33. The Bowman turnover not being called didn’t effect the game thanks to the Lynch fumble on the next play. But I think it’s hilarious that people think the officiating was alright for the game other than that one play. Watch the video on YouTube, there were so many things wrong with that game. Either way, the past is the past, you live to fight another day.

  34. Bowman’s courageous/unfortunate play was an interception. You can’t tell me Kearse made a football move. He was just starting to reel it in when Bowman did what he always does.

    Again, unfortunately like the fumble he caused against Ahmad Bradshaw or the one he caused & recovered on John Kuhn (3rd play in the wild card), he was denied by the stripes.

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