The first 11 weeks of the NFL season taught a pretty clear lesson for coaches using challenge flags to try for pass interference penalties that weren’t called on the field.
The lesson was that the league wasn’t going to drop many flags after the fact, but Panthers head coach Ron Rivera still took a chance in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in New Orleans. He believed the Saints interfered with wide receiver Jarius Wright as he made his way across the field.
Rivera surprisingly won the challenge, which led to an angry reaction from Saints head coach Sean Payton, Saints players and fans at the Superdome. Payton, who is on the NFL’s Competition Committee and shared thoughts about the rule on PFT Live this week, said after the game that it was not “New York’s best game.”
That referenced NFL officiating head Al Riveron, who spoke to pool reporter Larry Holder of TheAthletic.com about the call after the game.
“The ruling on the field initially was an incomplete pass. Carolina challenges the ruling on the field. They were looking for defensive pass interference. After reviewing it, it was clear and obvious through visual evidence that the defender significantly hinders the receiver while the ball is in the air, therefore, it’s defensive pass interference.”
By ruling that there was pass interference, one could have inferred that the review determined there was clear and obvious evidence of pass interference. What’s less clear is why this play reached that criteria while many other similar instances have been left as called on the field.