The one year (and perhaps only one year) pass interference replay-review experiment has resulted in limited reversals of calls and non-calls made on the field.
According to the league, 63 total replay reviews of pass interference calls and non-calls have occurred through the first nine weeks of the season. Of those, only nine decisions made on the field have been overturned by senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron and/or his lieutenants.
For offensive pass interference, 26 reviews have occurred. Of those, 11 were reviewed after rulings on the field of OPI. On 15 occasions, a non-call of offensive pass interference was reviewed.
As to the 11 reviews of OPI rulings, eight were initiated by coaches and three came from the automatic review process. Nine were upheld, and two were overturned. No coaches challenges of OPI rulings have been successful; the two reversals came from the automatic review process.
Regarding the 15 offensive pass interference not called on the field, 12 came from the coach’s challenge and three were initiated by the automatic process. Twelve rulings on the field were upheld. Of the three that were overturned, two came from the automatic process and one from a coach’s challenge.
For defensive pass interference, 37 reviews have occurred. On 11 occasions, a ruling of DPI on the field was reviewed, with 10 coming from coaches and one coming from the automatic process. None of the rulings on the field of DPI have been overturned.
Another 26 non-calls of defensive pass interference have been reviewed. Coaches have initiated the process 23 times, with four of them successful. An automatic review has happened three times, with no reversals.
The overall success rate for coaches’ challenges of pass interference calls and non-calls stands at 9.4 percent, with 53 challenges and only five reversals.
As to the automatic process, no reviews of defensive pass interference calls or non-calls have resulted in a reversal. For offensive pass interference, the automatic process has a 66.7-percent success rate, with four of six resulting in the ruling on the field being changed.
It’s no surprise that the success rate for red-flag challenges from coaches is so low. Riveron, either on his own volition or (more likely) at the behest of someone higher than him in the league office, has applied a much higher standard than the one he intended to use, based on things he told teams and media before the regular season began. And yet coaches still throw their flags, confident that the replay angles will show clear and obvious visual evidence that contradicts the decisions made by officials — even though Rivenon rarely utilizes the standard he had intended to use.
Some coaches, like Jon Gruden of the Raiders, have vowed to keep throwing the red flag, reluctance of Riveron to act be damned. As a result, it’s still unclear how clear the evidence much be in order to trigger a reversal, making the entire process a crapshoot that produces much more crap than shoot.
The situation virtually guarantees that replay review for pass interference calls and non-calls won’t be used by the league in 2020 and beyond. The question then becomes whether the league will devise some other procedure for preventing another Rams-Saints debacle.
And that’s really the overriding story. Regardless of how replay review will, or won’t, be used for pass interference calls or non-calls, the on-field officials are doing a poor job of spotting interference in real time and at full speed.
It’s possible that it’s always been this way, and that the availability of replay review has made it more noticeable.
That reality makes the entire process even more of a failure. Thanks to the inability of the officials working the NFC Championship to spot one of the most egregious failures to call pass interference in the history of the league, everyone now notices much more clearly and obviously the various failures of officiating when it comes to spotting pass interference — even if the replay review process is doing much too little to cure them.