The challenge of pass interference

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

The discussion behind pass interference and the “The Call That Wasn’t” this offseason was pretty intense. It didn’t take much time after the end of the season for the subject of making pass interference a challengable call was brought up. The NFL Competition Committee added a few caveats to the new rule, taking the challenge out of the coaches hands.

They’ve added some stipulations to the challenge after the 2-minute warning of each half. Challenges can only be initiated by Replay Official, and only “under stricter guidelines”. They are hoping this will lower the number of challenges in that time frame, and in turn not have too much added time to a game.

The stricter guidelines include the words “clear and obvious visual evidence”. As this is already supposed to be used in other challenges, the specific wording makes it sound like they will be even stricter on PI calls.

I decided to ask fans, via a quick, little poll on Twitter, what they thought of the challenge itself, and how they felt about taking it out of the coaches hands. As for the first question, it was a landslide.

Of course, we all love it! PI is one of the most irritating calls in the NFL. Its almost completely a judgment call by the ref, and with it being a spot foul, it can change a game on a dime. It’s logical that it is added as a challengable call. Right Saints fans?

I have to admit, I was leaning more toward it becoming a 15-yard penalty over making it challengable. What that does, is limit the impact it has. Let’s be honest, we all have seen quarterbacks air out a ball for 30+ yards, and wide receivers do everything they can to get the PI call because of it being a spot foul. It’s part of the offense, so I get it. Will making it challengable change that? I doubt it.

The second question I had was about who was calling for the challenge in the last two minutes of each half.

As you can see, most felt it should be left in the coaches hands. To be honest, I’m not sure that it matters if they are going to use strict rules to govern the challenge. But many of the replies I saw just simply wanted the refs to get the calls correct, and if that means longer games, so be it.

The committee also mentioned Hail Mary plays, saying they would be subject to pass interference rules, but used language that made it sound like they would defer, more often than not, to the on the field officials.

Officials get a lot of guff from players and fans, and one can understand why. However, we often forget how difficult their job is. If this challenge/review helps them do their job better, I think its a win-win for everyone.


Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG
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