Replay review on pass interference may have unintended consequences

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The NFL’s owners approved adding pass interference to the list of items that can be reviewed on instant replay, but they may not have thought through all the potential consequences.

One such consequence could be additional offensive pass interference calls on offensive players who are blocking more than one yard downfield. Most people assume that offensive pass interference reviews will be about receivers pushing off before catching the ball, but former NFL referee and NBC analyst Terry McAulay wrote on Twitter that he thinks some run-pass option plays will now have offensive pass interference calls on offensive linemen, who start the play like they are run blocking, block more than a yard downfield, and then are technically committing offensive pass interference when the ball is thrown.

“Now that PI is reviewable, here’s an RPO that I would expect to be reversed to OPI after review,” McAulay wrote with a video on Twitter. “Ball snapped at the 1. The RG blocks the LB ever so slightly more than 1 yd downfield (contact in the EZ) just before the pass is in flight. . . . I could see the defensive coach challenging this play.”

The new replay rule actually has the potential to be even more intrusive than McAulay suggests: Every touchdown is automatically reviewed, which means the replay assistant will have to watch every passing touchdown to see if anyone was blocking more than one yard downfield. Will touchdowns get overturned to offensive pass interference because of a block two yards downfield that didn’t appear to have any impact on the play?

It’s important that the league think through all these possibilities and, if necessary, revise the rule at the May league meeting. One revision could be to make offensive pass interference reviewable only for contact that begins after the ball is in the air.

Heading into last month’s league meeting, it was unclear which of the many replay proposals would be approved. It’s possible that the league rushed to approve this one, without considering every possibility.

66 responses to “Replay review on pass interference may have unintended consequences

  1. Chiefs are known to block down field thanks to their RPO system. It seems that majority of the time they don’t throw a flag for this, so yeah, to some degree it makes sense…

  2. Antonio Brown is going to get nailed this year. His best skill, as anyone will tell you, is his ability to know what the refs can and can’t see on his route and to use that information to get away with as much as he can.

  3. One thing I’d like to see changed…

    No more defensive pass interference when the QB underthrows a deep ball and the receiver has to come back to catch it while the DB happens to be in the way because of a poorly thrown ball!!!

    Watching Brady or Rodgers…I almost assume they underthrow it on purpose…knowing the likelihood of a defensive pass interference is worth the risk.

  4. I can’t wait for the super slo mo replays and thrilling discussion of whether or not the contact was incidental, whether or not the db was “going for the ball”. Shoot, raking leaves on Sunday is looking better than ever.

  5. Just see the horrendous call in the overtime of the NCAA mens BB championship game. Should be enough right there to do away with replay on every single play. NFL will be no exception of these same calls. The refs are already determining the outcome of the games, this only gives them more leverage to do so. Follow the mo ey….

  6. Extended replay on anything may have unintended consequences. The ultimate goal is that the good outweighs the bad, as with all rule changes. Hopefully the NFL gets it right; the AAF struggled to with its own replay officials.

  7. So ya think the league rushed to pass this new rule not considering all ramifications. Hhmmm, you mean like last year, oh and the year before that and and… come to think of it, this is exactly in line with every one of the last ten stupid rules they’ve passed.

  8. “Ball snapped at the 1. The RG blocks the LB ever so slightly more than 1 yd downfield (contact in the EZ) just before the pass is in flight. . . . I could see the defensive coach challenging this play.” – Terry McAulay

    First of all, if the offensive team gets the TD, it’s a scoring play and there would be no challenge from the coach, as it would be reviewed by the replay official. Second, if the team does not score a TD and the thinking is to push the offense back 10 yards…
    1. No coach will challenge such a play on defense when it’s in their own offensive playbook.
    2. No coach will waste a challenge on this unless it’s at 2:01 of the 4th quarter and it would be a go-ahead TD for the offense.

    The overanalysis of adding reviewable plays is almost mind-boggling. “It’ll make the game so much longer” – no it won’t. The head coach still has only 2 challenges to work with (three, if they get the first two right), they have to have a timeout in order to do it, and if a coach is thoughtless enough to waste a challenge on a 1 yard play in the first half, then they deserve to have a later egregious call maintained because they’re out of challenges. Challenges are for the blatant mistakes, not for every nickel-and-dime offensive holding that isn’t flagged.

  9. No no no…you don’t get to choose which rules you’ll enforce. If you want the calls to be correct, you gotta call it all. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  10. This will end up like last years falling on the QB. It will cause a teams to get TD’s called back because a lineman was blocking and he pushed the LB 3′ 3″ past the line of scrimmage. Once it is reviewed they will have to call it. A smart defensive play will make this happen.

  11. This is why I said if you’re going to do this, it should be part of a coach’s challenge. Don’t make whether or not there was a pass interference on the play automatically reviewable… if the coach really believes something happened, make it come out of his challenge.

    But more importantly… are we now going to start reviewing the innocent hand checking that occurs on every deep pass? I usually have an open mind on these things but this is going to be a disaster.

  12. Might as well have robots officiate the game and outfit players with IoT sensors on their jerseys if you are going to allow these types of challenges. Put a datacenter in the scoreboard.

  13. There is a lot more that hasn’t been thought through. How is this going to work in the last 2 minutes with a running clock and the offense trying to snap ASAP? There will be very little time for the review official to make a judgement on possible PI so what are they going to do on a non-scoring play? Stop the play so they have time to review or let the play continue without checking for PI? If not properly executed this rule will destroy the best part of the game, the final 2 minutes.

    Oh and cue the receivers and defenders “enhancing” contact on every play to get a call.

  14. Here’s my prediction, this will evolve into a mess of huge proportions and Sean Payton will find something else to complain about.

    I can guarantee the latter.

  15. An onerous rule change having unintended consequences? I’m stunned by that possibility.

  16. It’s gonna be good for stuff like what happened in the Saints game, point blank. There is no reason the saints should have had to live with that with such a clear replay video and clear consequence— and the Rams obviously weren’t the best team to go to the superbowl to face the pats… so that could have been better.

    It’s gonna be pretty annoying otherwise, though. Is it gonna make the game much much much much so much longer than it is now? No. But what is everyone’s experience watching a game recently already?? I’ve been annoyed with the amount of flags and stoppage already, personally. Now think of how annoying it is already to watch a game recently and after every play watching all players involved in the wrong side of a pass play whining for a flag already, sometimes getting it, and then think of how annoying it will be to reward such whining at all times on scoring plays and inside 2 minutes….

  17. My major hope at the end of the day is that the Saints miss the playoffs on a call like this being overturned or flagged upon review. That’s pretty much the best I can hope for cuz that’ll be great.

  18. Now you know why some of us were wise enough to decry the crying by the Saints. The game is going to take 30 mins longer too….

  19. i doubt we’ll see this be a problem because the league likes 2 things: offense, and qbs that can run. both sell tickets and they arrent about to shoot their own golden goose.

    and yes i’d like to see pick plays becoame penalties, and short throws that bring the wr back into the db not be penalized

  20. There are two kinds of people:
    (1) Those that are just now realizing there are unintended consequences of reviewing judgment calls; and
    (2) Those that recognized the unintended consequences years ago, and therefore never thought that correcting one Saints-Rams call was worth the problems it creates. Good luck with this.

  21. “Will touchdowns get overturned to offensive pass interference because of a block two yards downfield that didn’t appear to have any impact on the play?”

    The illegal block did have an impact on the play. The defense (the safety in particular) played the run because the O-Line went beyond the LOS in a run blocking scheme. It is illegal to do that.

    The safety would have gone into pass coverage if the O-Line did not do what they did, and potentially could have broken up the TD pass.

  22. meadowlandssports says: “First of all, if the offensive team gets the TD, it’s a scoring play and there would be no challenge from the coach, as it would be reviewed by the replay official. Second, if the team does not score a TD and the thinking is to push the offense back 10 yards…
    1. No coach will challenge such a play on defense when it’s in their own offensive playbook.
    2. No coach will waste a challenge on this unless it’s at 2:01 of the 4th quarter and it would be a go-ahead TD for the offense.
    ——————-

    – on scoring plays, review is only to confirm TD and NOT looking for penalties. That is still up to coaches.
    – who care’s if it’s in their playbook. There’s no honor system here.
    – reversing a TD and pushing the LOS 10 yards is more important than any other challenge during the game.

    meadowlandssports says: “Challenges are for the blatant mistakes, not for every nickel-and-dime offensive holding that isn’t flagged.”
    ——————-

    – in your perfect world, sure. But coaches only care about winning and if challenging a “nickel-and-dime” foul gets them better field position or take away points from the opponent, you can bet they’ll do it 100% of the time.

  23. “Next we’ll need replay for the replay”
    __________________

    NFL announcement sometime this November: “We just got the lab analysis back for Week 1 and these 7 games listed will be be replayed starting with the second play of the game. We have high hopes to have the season completed by 2035.”

  24. This is great – don’t change the rule. It’s about time offensive payers are held accountable to the rules. No more push-offs. No more OPIs.

  25. This is gonna get crazy and not in a good way. This is just another thing to prove to the average fan that they’ trying to get it right, but in actuality it helps the NFL control more outcomes. It’s gonna be terrible.
    I can’t wait for the XFL. They won’t have any of these stupid rules!!

  26. Of COURSE, there will be “unintended consequences” from this stupid, STUPID new rule. The problem is none of them should have been “unintended”. They should have been obvious from the get go. Once again the idiots in NY react rather than be proactive, and try to staunch the breach of the Titanic with duct tape.

    Missed calls have been an accepted part of the game from its beginning. Players and coaches make FAR more mistakes during a game than officials make. But these errors were an ACCEPTED part of the game by the coaches, players, AND fans for most of the existence of the NFL. Replay was SUPPOSED to correct only the most obvious of misses. Instead we are left to parse through a myriad of angles and slow motion looks that take forever to determine and even THEN we are rarely sure it was gotten right.

    There ARE 2 things that could be done that would at least mitigate the worst of this idiocy.

    a. Eliminate the automatic booth reviews that pervade the game now. If they don’t virtually EVERY play in the final 2 minutes of each half could and probably SHOULD be reviewed. Simply give coaches 2 shots to review ANY play, but….

    b. When a team throws a review flag they MUST give the ref the exact player or part of the play they thought the refs missed or miscalled. In other words, if an OLman was downfield during a play, the coach would have to say, #65 was down field. NOT “someone” was downfield.

    If a coach claims my TE was held, ONLY the TE’s route would be reviewed. Even if its clear a WR was held, it wouldn’t matter. The coach has to be specific. That can’t just say, “check out that last play and see if something funny went on”

    Then and ONLY then would a play be reversed or called. Since each coach would have only 2 challenges they would be used very judiciously. If the “booth” can review almost anything, it will be horrendous. Games will be unwatchable, and NO one will be happy with the results.

  27. If the new replay rule allows an official to call penalties that were not called originally, then what you have written may come to pass. I do not know the new rule enough to know if that is the case or not. So, if new penalties cannot be added, then even if officials see a penalty on the replay, they cannot call them and they can only review the penalty that is called. For example, if a cornerback is called for defensive pass interference originally, then they cannot call offensive pass interference on the receiver or a lineman or any other player in a different part of the field. It will take too much time to review the actions of every player on the field, even if the cameras cover all of the players. Replays should not be a fishing expedition for any possible penalty on the play, but they should only be used to figure out whether the penalty called was correct or not.

  28. Works for me. This whole rule change sucks, but if they’re going to have it I’d love to see these RPOs actually legislated by the rules of football.

  29. It would be kind of ironic if the Saints and Rams meet next year in the NFL title game. Jared Goff throws a last second hail Mary in the endzone that’s batted down…. but wait… the officials review and determine the Saints committed PI. One play later, Todd Gurley plunges in for the GW TD.

  30. meadowlandssports says:
    April 12, 2019 at 8:30 am
    “First of all, if the offensive team gets the TD, it’s a scoring play and there would be no challenge from the coach, as it would be reviewed by the replay official. Second, if the team does not score a TD and the thinking is to push the offense back 10 yards…
    1. No coach will challenge such a play on defense when it’s in their own offensive playbook.
    2. No coach will waste a challenge on this unless it’s at 2:01 of the 4th quarter and it would be a go-ahead TD for the offense”
    —————————————————————
    1: If it’s a scoring play then the fact that it’s automatically reviewable, means that the refs will have to look at every single position to see if there was a non-called PI. If it’s challengeable, you better believe coaches will use it to negate TDs. If it’s not challengeable, then there’s a loophole on PI, you just need to score a TD (or get a TO on def) and not get called for it, and the refs can’t do anything about it.
    2: You’re out of your mind if you think that coaches won’t call this, even if it means that it might come back at them later in the game. They can’t trust that the coach on the other side of the field won’t challenge one later, either way. They’ll call it, just so they’re not the one getting screwed later.
    3: Joe Philbin in Green Bay this year used both his challenges in the first 5 minutes of a game, to gain like 8 yards. Tell me exactly why you believe that they won’t use them to negate the other team from gaining 25+

  31. Refs should only be able to review the penalty that was flagged. Plain and simple. They should NOT be able to look at a penalty and then say, “Oh, btw, we noticed in slow motion that someone else was doing something somewhere else on the field.” That’s total BS.

  32. For challenges of a called or uncalled penalty of any kind to work the entire play cannot come into review. It should be the specifics of the challenge.

    For a TD review they should keep the rules the same. Uncalled penalties should not come into play. Otherwise there could be a blatant hold that cannot be reversed but a missed PI that can be. it wouldn’t make sense.

  33. Simple solution: The review of an unflagged pass interference should only encompass the intended receiver and the area of his route.

    Nothing is perfect, though. And that’s our problem. We’ve got to learn to accept imperfections, because no matter what, they are not going away.

  34. It is now going to be when do you throw the red flag, as opposed to “will” there be challenges. Every single game will now use 4-6 challenges. My guess is it will lengthen games by a solid 10 minutes. Every single game. But at least it will give people something more to complain about.

  35. voddyt says:
    April 12, 2019 at 9:58 am
    How about simply changing blocking downfield to a non-OPI penalty? Then it’s not reviewable and becomes a non-issue.
    /////////
    Wait, what? You want to make it legal for WR’s to plow over DB’s so another WR can just catch passes at will? No penalty for that? Why wouldn’t teams just run that play over and over again then?

  36. Let’s not sit here and pretend that NFL refs are going to suddenly start throwing flags for opi or even considering them on reviews. Offenses will continue to benefit from the league’s meddling in the game to inflate scoring.

  37. stillabengalsfan says:
    April 12, 2019 at 8:27 am
    That cost Cincy a game against Pittsburg.
    ———————————————-
    Pittsburgh*. Bengals have lost 11 out of the last 12 games vs the Steelers. I don’t think its the refs.

  38. I remember when there wasn’t replay at all. Football was extremely entertaining and fun to watch then. Sure there were bad calls but that’s just life. Now it’s like watching a courtroom tv drama. Every played parsed and debated in slow motion. Replay was supposed to end controversy but now it’s driving it. People still love and watch the game but it’s a shell of its former self.

  39. Can you challenge a bad defensive pass interference call to get it overturned? The 50 yard phantom penalty is one of the most upsetting, game changing plays in the game. All I’ve heard focus on is you can get PI called on review if they didn’t throw a flag to begin with.

  40. If the refs could have done a halfway competent job making a ridiculously obvious call, none of this would have come to pass. Pointing the finger at fans (of both the Saints and football in general) who were understandably upset at what happened as the reason why they had to implement some sort of rule change to make sure that this doesn’t happen again is foolish.

    The rule should apply to glaring and obvious situations only. It’s been said a million times that you can find a penalty somewhere on every single play if you look hard enough. Everyone on the field, in the stadium, and watching the broadcast was looking at where that penalty occurred. There was no reason whatsoever why a penalty shouldn’t have been called.

  41. Probably what will happen is during preseason and the first few games every time a lineman is more than a yard down field or any type of pick play a flag will be thrown to get the point across to certain coaches (cough, cough Andy and Doug) that RPO’s are basically illegal in the NFL and super level cheating. So Andy and Doug along with a few others will have to think of a new offensive, or simply the owner gets another offensive-minded head coach: easy enough. RPO’s work in College because they allow lineman to go 3 yards, making it almost impossible for LB’s or safeties to read the play.

  42. meadowlandssports says:
    “Ball snapped at the 1. The RG blocks the LB ever so slightly more than 1 yd downfield (contact in the EZ) just before the pass is in flight. . . . I could see the defensive coach challenging this play.” – Terry McAulay

    First of all, if the offensive team gets the TD, it’s a scoring play and there would be no challenge from the coach, as it would be reviewed by the replay official. Second, if the team does not score a TD and the thinking is to push the offense back 10 yards…
    1. No coach will challenge such a play on defense when it’s in their own offensive playbook.
    2. No coach will waste a challenge on this unless it’s at 2:01 of the 4th quarter and it would be a go-ahead TD for the offense.
    ————–
    I think you are forgetting that receivers sometimes catch the football without scoring a touch down.

    So overturning the play is more than just 10 yards.

  43. So you’re saying they’ll actually call PI correctly now, right? You’re not saying this blocking downfield thing is a new rule. You’re saying the refs never call it. Shocker. NFL refs making up the rules on the field. Unbelievable…

  44. Agree with csidedave. There is the potential for every play to be reviewed in the last 2 minutes with this rule. Who determines which plays get reviewed and which plays don’t? This just transfers the subjectiveness of the call from the field to the replay booth. If this rule must exist, just give each team an extra challenge to be used in the last 2 minutes and they can select which play they review otherwise it’s a free for all.

  45. This is horrible news. Refs may be able to stop illegal plays. How will the NFL survive without cheating? If you don’t want unintended consequences, play by the RULES! It’s not rocket science.

  46. Look, folks. It’s the obvious no call PI review rule! Nothing else will change. Remember the uproar about the new helmet rule last year? Much ado about nothing!

  47. If this play gets called, teams will have to adjust, but there are many penalties that refs just don’t pay any attention to and never call.

  48. “One revision could be to make offensive pass interference reviewable only for contact that begins after the ball is in the air.”

    It isn’t PI unless the ball is in the air.

  49. All this hand wringing and pearl clutching about how players will no longer get to break the rules.

  50. Hmm, so many people bashed Mike Brown as the only owner to vote against the new rule, but now are lamenting the change, and using his exact argument for voting against it.

  51. 1)If case some of you dont know, this penalty rule came about from the Chiefs sumbitting it as a rule change. It goes to show that other teams (if not all teams) are concerned about this kind of mistake as well.

    2)The vast majority of the NFL players and fans were in an uproar about the now famous no-call, not just Saints fans. I even know some Falcons fans that were outraged. Because if something isnt done or tried, this could happen to your team one day too. There is not one person who is disputing what happened on the field – even the player who committed the uncalled penalty.

    3)The rule has not even been in action yet. Everyone will be curious to see what may happen, and if the negative is more than the positive, it will get some sort of change or tweak.

    4)Talking on a forum about these things is not “whining”. That is just a word that trolls use and they are usually from fans of teams that dont win or ever consistently get in the playoffs and it is their way of getting out their own anger for that fact.

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