NFL admits OPI in Bengals-Washington happened before ball was thrown

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Yes, another flaw has been identified when it comes to replay review of pass interference calls and non-calls.

After declining to explain on Thursday night the basis for upholding via replay review in the Bengals-Washington game an offensive pass interference call that, based on the TV angles, showed no offensive pass interference, the NFL has admitted that the ruling on the field stood because the OPI happened earlier in the route, before the ball arrived and before the cameras were tracking the receiver and the man who was covering him.

“[T]he on-field officials called OPI for a push off by WAS 13 at the 50-yard line, well before he jumped to catch the ball,” the league explained on Friday afternoon. “There was no clear & obvious visual evidence from the available broadcast video that the ruling was incorrect, so the on-field ruling stands.”

The situation presents a very real predicament when it comes to reviewing via replay calls and non-calls of pass interference. Absent the assignment of a TV camera to every eligible receiver, visual evidence often won’t be available to review calls and non-calls that happen when the ball is in the air. So if a coach throws the challenge flag to question one of these calls or non-calls, the end result will be that the call can’t be overturned because the call can’t be reviewed — because cameras weren’t pointed at the conduct that resulted in the call or non-call.

And even if the network assigns a camera to each of the five eligible receivers, how will NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron determine that the ball was in the air when contact happened? For a defender, a shove beyond five yards before the ball is thrown constitutes illegal contact, which isn’t reviewable. Although multiple camera angles have been used in the past to show, for example, whether a player’s knee was down before the ball came out, it will be difficult if not impossible to splice two camera angles together to show that the contact definitely happened after the ball definitely had exited the hand of the quarterback.

For interference that happens as the ball in descending toward the receiver, it’s not an issue. It’s definitely an issue for contact that does or doesn’t happen before that. And it’s another issue to be considered as the NFL embarks on this new reality.

Here’s a suggested tweak to the rule: If a coach challenges a call of offensive or defensive pass interference and the contact happened away from the available TV angles, he loses neither one of his challenges nor a time out. That’s the only fair outcome to what could be a fairly common problem when it comes to replay review of pass interference calls, and the coach shouldn’t be required to essentially make a guess as to whether the conduct being challenged was captured on video.

10 responses to “NFL admits OPI in Bengals-Washington happened before ball was thrown

  1. How about we just make a “point of emphasis” to call 50% fewer penalties?

  2. If you go back and watch the replay the ref is right behind the play and doesn’t through the flag until there is contact when Harmon is trying to make the catch. Back at the line he runs right by the CB. Not sure what the heck they are talking about here. This just made a bad call worse.

  3. The official thew his flag when the Bengals DB jumps to attack the point where the Washington receiver would be catching the ball, not at the 50 yard line where the “push-off” occurred. Looks a lot like a bad call followed by an even worse excuse…

  4. Before the ball was thrown or earlier in the route when the ball was in the air?

    If the former, then the call should have been overturned as that is holding/illegal contact and not DPI. The latter would mean it was in fact DPI and the call would stand.

  5. Technology will never make it a perfect world. But keep on suggesting more overly complicated rules/replays etc, that will eventually take all the spontaneity out of the game. Does anyone remember jumping up and cheering a good play as it happened rather than waiting to see if it will stand?

  6. “the NFL has admitted that the ruling on the field stood because the OPI happened earlier in the route”
    ——————–

    WHAT A DECEIVING INTERPRETATION. The NFL was NOT “admitted” anything like they did anything wrong. The ruling was in fact, correct.

    The replay official DOES NOT KNOW what the broadcast tv shows – it’s not their fault that the network focused on the wrong part of the WR route.

    As for the network cameras, EVERY ROUTE IS COVERED FROM THE BEGINNING. So the network DOES have the footage, but they decided the OPI was at the end, not the beginning.

  7. NunyaBiznes says: “If you go back and watch the replay the ref is right behind the play and doesn’t through the flag until there is contact when Harmon is trying to make the catch.”
    ————————

    The replay now makes ABSOLUTE sense. You do know that it takes a little bit of time for the official to grab and then throw the flag, right? It’s never instantaneously right after the foul.

    As you said, by the time you saw the contact, the official already decided to throw the flag and was in the process. Which means the foul occurred before that moment or couple of seconds ago.

  8. How about the “ALL 22” cameras for NFL League Pass subscribers? Make them 4k cameras then you can zoom in and see IT ALL.

  9. During the broadcast Joe Theismann stated that, while looking at the replay, there was no interference. He thought the interference may have been a result of earlier contact because an official appeared to be going for a flag before the contact that happened during the catch. Bottom line, reviewing a replay of the catch was meaningless because the foul had already occurred.

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