Will replay review of PI calls and non-calls be influenced by the outcome of the play?

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In the Hall of Fame game and in 15 of the Week One preseason games, none of the replay officials called for a replay review of any pass interference call or non-call. In the Bengals-Chiefs game on Saturday night, the replay official exercised that power. Twice.

One of those decisions highlighted a key question regarding replay review of pass interference calls and non-calls: Will the ruling from NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron be influenced by the outcome of the play?

With 53 seconds left in the first half and the Chiefs on the Cincinnati 17, quarterback Kyle Shurmur threw a third-down pass in the direction of receiver Byron Pringle on the right side of the end zone. Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips appeared to initiate contact with Pringle while the ball was in the air. But Pringle commited a much more obvious infraction, blatantly shoving Phillips in the head to gain separation.

Phillips recovered from the push, batting the ball away for an incompletion, forcing a fourth down and a looming 35-yard field-goal attempt for the Chiefs.

Replay official Darryl Lewis initiated a review of potential offensive pass interference. And the review took a long time, slamming the brakes on the game action while Riveron sorted everything out in New York.

Riveron ultimately decided to let the ruling on the field stand, with no call of offensive pass interference, defensive pass interference, or offseting fouls — and with no explanation provided by referee Craig Wrolstad regarding the basis for the decision.

It’s hard not to wonder whether Riveron considered the fact that Pringle’s blatant shove of Phillips didn’t help Pringle make the catch. If Pringle had caught the ball, would Riveron has called OPI? Probably. If Phillips had intercepted the pass, would Riveron have determined that Phillips committed interference? Or would Riveron have decided that both players had committed fouls, wiping out the play and giving the Chiefs a do-over?

In this specific case, the realistic options seemed to be: (1) call Pringle for OPI, marking off 10 yards and giving the Chiefs another third down (unless the Bengals declined the penalty); (2) call offsetting fouls, allowing the Chiefs another crack at the end zone on third down; or (3) do nothing, keeping the Chiefs at fourth down and leaving the field-goal try at 35 yards.

Riveron’s ultimate choice quite possibly reflects a consideration of what happened on the field, and what the impact of his decision on the game would have been. Really, how can Riveron not be expected to ponder the various permutations regarding the consequences of a call or non-call of offensive and/or defensive pass interference?

Right or wrong, the power to consider via replay review calls and non-calls of pass inteference gives Riveron a vague sort of Wapnerian power over the proceedings, allowing him to mete out football justice based not only on the visual evidence of a foul or no foul, but also on the impact of his decision on the broader circumstances of the game. On Saturday night, it appears that Riveron may have used this power in overlooking clear and obvious evidence of offensive pass interference, given that there may have been defensive pass interference and given that the offensive pass interference ultimately didn’t work.

Like it or not, these are the kinds of issues that naturally flow from the NFL’s decision to address the very specific and narrow problem from the Rams-Saints NFC Championship game with a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel. And these are the kinds of questions that will come into focus as more and more games are played under this new reality.

8 responses to “Will replay review of PI calls and non-calls be influenced by the outcome of the play?

  1. Deference to the call on the field unless it is clear and obvious that a player was significantly impeded.

  2. Yes. Goodell cheats. Clement’s incompletion in sb 52 was called a td when it was clear the ball jostled after he switched arms for final possession, with only 1 foot in bounds.

    All this will do is allow Goodell to cheat some more.

  3. Yes but you left out the most obvious and more important review. Under 2 minutes left to play on third down and it appeared that the Bengals intercepted the Chiefs at the Bengals 10 yard line. The official review showed that not only was it not an interception but an obvious defensive pass interference which have the ball back to the Chiefs and a first down. So say what you will but that’s they way it’s supposed to work.

  4. Curious if coaches will start challenging pick plays. I was watching the Pats Lions game and it was obvious offensive pass interference. Lions didn’t challenge and have the Pats the touchdown.

  5. Look if there was OPI, it should have been called. Don’t dissect any more than you need to. Everything is reviewable. Don’t not call it just because the receiver didn’t catch it. Why should the receiver get special accommodations? He committed a penalty. CALL IT

  6. idontknowanythingaboutthat says:
    August 11, 2019 at 3:26 pm
    Look if there was OPI, it should have been called. Don’t dissect any more than you need to. Everything is reviewable. Don’t not call it just because the receiver didn’t catch it. Why should the receiver get special accommodations? He committed a penalty. CALL IT
    —————
    Great story but you obviously didn’t read the article. The defender and the reciever both committed pass interference. So what are you going to do call offsetting penalties and give the offense another chance or just call it an incomplete pass?

  7. Great story but you obviously didn’t read the article. The defender and the reciever both committed pass interference. So what are you going to do call offsetting penalties and give the offense another chance or just call it an incomplete pass?

    —-

    Exactly. In this case of offsetting penalties, the OPI was more flagrant than the DPI. Replaying the down would have given a benefit to the offense that committed the more flagrant foul.

    What he did, in this specific scenario, seems most fair.

  8. The NFL is a RIGGED League. With more and more sports gambling it will get even worse.

    The NFL refuses to even admit that they flat out blew the call in the NFC Championship Game because the officials were TOLD before the game to not allow a call on the field that was favorable to the Saints that would help advance them to the Super Bowl instead of a team from a much larger “potential” TV audience.

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