NFL touts impact of “replay assist” on reducing formal replay challenges

NFL: DEC 04 Steelers at Falcons
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It’s known by different names, multiple of which are used by the league. Expedited review is more common. Replay assist is the term that was utilized in a tweet posted today by the NFL Officiating account.

“The NFL expanded its replay rule to allow replay officials to assist on-field officials in specific, limited game situations to prevent game stoppages and improve accuracy of calls,” the league proclaimed.

The tweet included a graphic touting that “replay assist” prevented 254 stoppages in the 2021-22 season, with half being booth reviews that were prevented and the other half being coach’s challenges that were avoided. (The tweet does not contain statistics for 2022-23.)

The post includes a link to an article regarding the 2021 expansion of replay assist to encompass issues like whether a catch was made, or whether a touchdown was scored. The total permissible categories for expedited review without a challenge are: Penalty enforcement; confirmation of the proper down; spot of a foul; game clock administration; possession of a loose ball; complete or incomplete pass; loose ball touching a boundary line, goal line, or end line; location of the football or a player in relation to a boundary line, line of scrimmage, line to gain, or goal line; and player down by contact (when not ruled down on the field).

The numbers are impressive, but they obscure questions raised earlier this week about the transparency and consistency of expedited review. Three specific instances from the conference championships prove that: (1) the DeVonta Smith non-catch, which wasn’t caught by replay assist (even though the league has access to all replay angles); (2) Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball after his shin was down, which was fixed by replay assist; and (3) the Marquez Valdes-Scantling reach with the ball for a first down, which was overturned by a coach’s challenge, but ignored by replay review.

The biggest problem comes from the inconsistency. Sometimes it’s used, sometimes it isn’t. If a ruling on the field was so clearly and obviously wrong that replay review later overturns it, it should have been overturned by expedited review.

Basically, the league has opened a can of worms with replay assist. It’s fixing some calls, but not others. It should be fixing all, or it should be fixing none. Anything else introduces the potential for the kind of inconsistency that makes people think games are rigged, even if they aren’t.

11 responses to “NFL touts impact of “replay assist” on reducing formal replay challenges

  1. Would like to see a breakdown on what teams received what number of replay assistant benefits. I’ve seen the momentum of games swing pretty drastically because of some these replay assists and lack of replay assists. I can think of several instances that both Eagles and Giants have been major beneficiaries of this ruling.

  2. The answer is simple. Like stated in the article, it is a ALL or NOTHING situation. Regarding playoff games, there should be a replay officials upstairs in every game and missed calls, for example the blatant block in the back on the Bengals last punt, that was obvious from my living room, how did the refs miss it? Just to be clear I am not a Bengals fan but feel they got robbed in that game several times. Furthermore they should NOT break up Referee crews to do post season. The refs should be graded through the season and the highest graded TEAMS get the assignments. The NFL makes enough money and should really upgrade their current referee compensations and training.

  3. The Smith non catch was the most egregious one for them not to handle with this system. Constant play stoppages for reviews are HORRIBLE but something like that – that leads directly to a monumentally consequential score IN A TITLE GAME is an unacceptable outcome.

  4. “Reducing replay challenges” is a weird way to say “adjusting the calls to the outcome we prefer on the fly”.

  5. How about utilizing it on the most blatant of penalties or at minimum personal foul penalties that are ignored.

    Buffalo at Lions Thanksgiving day should have went to Overtime .
    A blatant 4 full seconds of twisting and yanking of a Lions player facemask that allowed Allen to run & get the yardage needed to attempt the game winning FG. They never would have attempted a 66 yard FG had the penalty been called and enforced. Season changing no call that was directly in front of the sideline ref 8 ft away, clear as day.

  6. Funny how the nfl could redo a down to give the chiefs an extra 3rd down but nothing could be done about the missed block in the back that setup the chiefs final punt return and also nothing could be done about the 2 obvious holds on mahomes final play. The nfl is rigged

  7. If the fans can see it on TV in real time there is absolutely no excuse for the NFL to not get the calls right. Especially in the championship games and Super Bowl. I doubt anyone would care if games were 20-30 mins longer during the playoffs.

  8. I laugh at the “ replays slows the game down crowd “.
    Do we want to know who won the game fair and square, or do we want to believe the lying NFL?
    By the way, the league wanted the Bengals last year in the Super Bowl, because the final goal was a Ram’s victory.
    Harder for the refs to help the Rams against the Chiefs.

  9. Maybe the highest paid person in the NFL Roger Goodell making $64 million last year can hire full time refs with a sky judge and every camera angle so they can have consistent calls throughout the game. Or better yet develop some AI to make the calls so these old blind partisan refs have little to no impact on games. It is human nature to favor one player or team over the other so no way are these refs making calls based on facts.

  10. From most angles, it looked like Devonta Smith caught the ball. You’d have to get to the 3rd or 4th camera shot before you saw the ball on the ground. By then, the Eagles ran the next play. So I don’t see how the expedited review could possibly fix “everything”.

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