The language of the rule is official. It’s potential application remains fluid.
The league has posted the announcement on social media: “The . . . Competition Committee today unanimously recommended the rule approved in March for instant replay of pass interference remain in effect for the 2019 season only.”
A slide show accompanying the tweet highlights the fact that automatic review will be available for pass interference calls and non-calls in the final two minutes under normal circumstances, specifically and most importantly in the final two minutes of either half. The league also points out that the standard for initiating automatic review will be much higher for pass interference calls and non-calls than for other reviewable plays, in an effort to avoid excessive stoppages.
Basically, the replay official must see clear and obvious evidence of an error before activating replay review. This makes the replay official the gatekeeper for all automatic replay reviews of pass interference calls and non-calls. As mentioned last night, however, there will be a fundamental difference between the truly obvious blunders (Rams-Saints, NFC Championship) and the closer questions (Chargers-Chiefs, Week 15).
The fact that senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron has cited the Chargers-Chiefs late-game DPI call as something that would have been changed via replay review to offsetting pass interference penalties suggests that Riveron believes the play in question would have met the bar for triggering automatic replay review. The challenge becomes ensuring that the NFL has a clear and consistent standard for making this determination, and that all replay officials consistently apply it. Otherwise, the league will either have too many replay reviews (which would be a problem) or not enough (which would also be a problem).
Here’s hoping that the league realizes the contours of these potential problems, and that it acts accordingly to solve them. Either way, it seems as if the league will be coming up with another solution after the 2019 season.