RIP, replay review for pass interference

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Through five weeks of regular-season action, it had become apparent that replay review would be used to overturn a non-call of pass interference only in the event of another Rams-Saints debacle. The first game of Week Six made this reality crystal clear.

Last in Thursday night’s game between the Giants and the Patriots, the officials on the field failed to spot a clear and obvious instance of pass interference committed against Giants receiver Golden Tate, as the road team tried to carve into a 21-point deficit at New England. New York coach Pat Shurmur, despite the ridiculously high bar that now applies to these situations, threw his challenge flag.

The league office quickly upheld the ruling on the field — so quickly that it underscored the message to all coaches: Don’t bother.

In March, the league reacted to the Rams-Saints debacle by making pass interference calls and non-calls subject to replay review. By September, the bar had been pushed so high that nothing short of a defensive player wiping out a receiver before the ball arrives will be deemed to be pass interference if the officials on the field fail to drop the flag.

That definitely wasn’t the manner in which NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron had planned to apply replay to these situations. In his preseason explanations to entities like NFL Media, Riveron made it clear that he intended to reoficiate these plays, looking for clear and obvious visual evidence of significant hindrance even if the officials had failed to spot it. At some point between late August and Week One, someone (presumably, Commissioner Roger Goodell) had instructed Riveron that replay review simply will not be used that way.

Thursday night’s abrupt affirmation of the on-the-field non-call underscores the reality that Riveron has been told that the new procedure will be used only as a break-glass-in-event-of-emergency device for preventing a complete and total miscarriage of NFL justice — notwithstanding situations like the Tate play, where contact impeding the receiver from catching the ball was indeed clear and obvious.

The blatant nature of the early contact that kept Tate from catching the ball raises the question of whether the new protocol won’t be applied at all until the postseason, or at least until the outcome of a regular-season game rides on the final decision. With the Patriots up 21 and without nearly enough time for the Giants to close the gap, Riveron let it go. If New England had been leading by only seven points, would Riveron have given the Giants a flag for defensive pass interference?

For now, the smart approach for all coaches will be to assume that anything other than a receiver being blown up by a defensive back before the ball arrives won’t trigger a ruling of inteference via replay review, if the officials miss it in real time. Perhaps, in a close game, the outcome will be different.

Perhaps it won’t matter at all until the single-elimination round arrives.

Regardless, replay review of pass interference calls and non-calls clearly has been gutted to the point where it’s meaningless. With each passing regular-season game, it will be harder to break from the precedent that Riveron is creating, one decision at a time.

Come January, that could change. Come March, the league will have to figure out another way to correct blatant and obvious mistakes made by officials in key moments of games, because it’s clear that the change made by owners in March is being ignored by Riveron, at the behest of his superiors, perhaps until a blunder committed by the officials happens with a game on the line.

47 responses to “RIP, replay review for pass interference

  1. I like my refs visible. They are like an oil slick during the Indy 500; you’re just waiting for the inevitable crash.

  2. Typical NFL. Has the league ever rolled out a major change on anything that doesn’t end up making them look incompetent?

  3. These coaches need to learn that they aren’t going to reverse calls or make calls unless it is so obvious it hurts.They do not want to open that can of worms where it gets overly scrutinized. Plain and simple.

  4. To be honest, that’s fine. At least the mechanism is there for extreme cases, when it wasnt before.

    Plus, Tate rarely deserves benefit of the doubt.

  5. Yeah. It will be real interesting once we’re in the playoffs and there’s less than 2 minutes left and pass interference happens. At that point if it’s 50/50 or even 60/40 will the league feel compelled to call it then? My guess is they will and then there will be wailing and nashing of teeth.

  6. Truth is, it wasnt called bc it would have been a penalty against one of the teams it was implemented for. I’m betting that if the teams were reversed and it was the pats down 21 w the pass coming from Brady to Edelman we would have seen our first reversal of the year!

  7. it had become apparent that replay review would be used to overturn a non-call of pass interference only in the event of another Rams-Saints debacle.

    we don’t yet know if it will be overturned in that event, either

  8. i hope the next time there is a play that crosses the invisible threshold, the team wronged is out of challenges and/or timeouts, and outside the two minute warning. chaos.

  9. Relax. Tate still had a chance to catch the ball. The defender made contact but it was not a jarring or holding type contact. I would have not protested had pass interference been the call on the field. But I like that we’re not using replay to overturn anything and everything. You do want to feel that you know the reality when the call is made and not have to pause and think, “let’s wait a few seconds to see if the play will be challenged.” That would be an enormous drain on the flow of the game. Save it for the moments like the Saints-Rams postseason conclusive play.

  10. Giants DBs breathe on a patriot and it’s a flag. Patriot DBs hold all over the field and no calls. Typical.

  11. It was inconsistent before the new rule. Now it’s inconsistent with the rule. The only difference is that when they review it and still don’t make the obvious call that America sees right in front of them, it just looks like the point spread fix is in. If you noticed the lead was 21 and if the Giants would have scored it would have left New England not covering the spread. Hmmmm?

  12. I didn’t have a dog in the fight, and the game was out of hand … but, wow. It wasn’t Saints-Rams, but it was pretty darn close to Saints-Rams. Tate was practically wrapped up by the defender with the ball in the air.

  13. Thank you Saints and the NFL waisting our time. Can we move on now from this PI fiasco? They upheld that decision before the play was even challenged! For a multi-billion dollar operation, the NFL constantly makes the most awful and dumbest decisions, on and off the field. I mean this witn all sincerity…I honestly think the average 13 year old could do better.

  14. “clear and obvious instance of pass interference”?

    Well then – by your standards – any form of incidental contact would be DPI. Most people still prefer 2 football players playing football, as opposed to a replay official sitting in a chair in NYC to see if there was any contact prior to the ball hitting the receivers hands.

  15. If this is what they had in mind, they should have just said that so teams can save their timeouts. You shouldn’t have to figure out it’s pointless via trial and error. The point of a rule is to uhhhh make a rule. Write the rule how it’s going to be implemented. You morons.

  16. Do the rule makers ever listen to the players? Perhaps the tenured players should have a voice in rule changes, weighing in by voicing there reservations etc.

  17. Football is played by human beings. If you take the human element out of the game of football, you have no game of football! Stupid rule!

  18. That’s why we shouldn’t have enacted the rule in the first place. Saints got jobbed. We get it. Refs miss calls as we can see from all of these challenges. That doesn’t mean we should change it because of crybaby Sean Payton. Saints aren’t special, it happens in so many games even in the NFC championship.

  19. It was very clear he was interfered with, and I think if it’s going to be challenged, give the coach at least a real opportunity to gain by it. I also hate the idea of enforcing or relaxing things in the playoffs. Do things the same way all year.

  20. And what’s angle did they use to clearly establish the White touchdown should be called back?
    Compared to the Pi call they didn’t overturn…… it’s a gong show. They’re deciding games it’s this garbage at corporate head office.

  21. I agree. A knee jerk reaction by the league to pacify that was never intended to be utilized anyway. I think any coach even challenging a PI or missed PI should immediately be dismissed going forward for incompetence above and beyond the call.

    Wasting a challenge on this crap only proves the coach is not smart enough to duck when the NFL swings their “stupid stick”.

  22. This game is at times unwatchable due to flags or lack there of. If you make a rule, enforce it or take it away, we all know why it’s here. This year they have decided to over enforce holding by linemen, but can’t overturn blatant PI? Seeing 20-25 flags a game is mind-numbing. I’m not a fan of either team, just an observation from a football fan.

  23. Florio’s theory: Coaches are ignorant and/or wasting our time.

    My theory: Coaches want to make Riveron admit that his July guidance was wrong and keep challenging the calls to build the case. In Shurmur’s case, it cost him nothing since the game was already decided.

  24. Saw this play and couldnt understand how they didnt call it PI. I am an Eagles fan so no dog in this fight. So this was a rule put in place to appease Sean Payton !?!?!? Nicely done NFL.

  25. There was some interference but Tate’s no-call was NOT “clear and obvious” for the simple reason of context – the refs allowed both sides to push & shove and Tate wasn’t significantly impeded – at least not enough to clearly and obviously “rise above” the tenor the refs let play.

    And Pats suffered a horribly unfair yard-short spot on a key early 4th down in scoring range, why aren’t you all crying about that instead? You’d all be screaming if it had been the Giants.

  26. “Come March, the league will have to figure out another way to correct blatant and obvious mistakes made by officials in key moments of games,…”


    Why? Does the MLB have a method for correcting blatant and obvious mistakes made by Umpires in calling balls and strikes? Football games are officiated by fallible humans and mistakes will be made. The NFL does not want endless nitpicking over nuance to impede the flow of the game, that is why coaches’ challenges are limited to 2-3.

    What happened in Rams-Saints was a gross miscarriage and the NFL was charged with finding a solution to that issue, that wouldn’t otherwise undermine judgment calls by officials. That is what we have now. They probably should have done a better job of explaining the egregiously high bar required to overturn a PI call or non-call on the field to the teams and coaches, but other than that, the system seems to be working as originally intended.

  27. eh,… it’s okay. i stopped paying to watch games… and after this year… i’m out. WWF NFL… same thing… i wanna watch a real sport where the competition matters…the NFL is about ad revenue and bookies.

  28. Maybe it’s OK to interfere as long as they don’t use 70 percent or more of their body weight in the process?

  29. Riveron wiped out a Vikings touchdown in Week 2 by finding uncalled pass interference on Dalvin Cook on a goal-line play where it’s nearly impossible for someone going out on a pass route to not run into a defender. This stuff happens every time a pass is thrown from the 2-yard line, and this was the furthest thing from “clear and obvious.” So forgive me if I’m not ready to believe that there will be any consistency in what is overturned and what isn’t overturned.

  30. streetyson says:
    October 11, 2019 at 8:46 am
    And Pats suffered a horribly unfair yard-short spot on a key early 4th down in scoring range, why aren’t you all crying about that instead? You’d all be screaming if it had been the Giants.

    1) Bill should have thrown the challenge flag to challenge the spot if it was that bad.

    2) Refs gifted Pats the “incomplete pass” to Edelman.

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