NFL Makes Changes to Instant Replay: Pass Interference Calls Are Now Reviewable

The NFL competition committee wants to make sure they’re doing everything they can to get calls correct, which is why the decision made by owners this week at the league meetings in Arizona to expand instant replay by making pass interference and non-calls a reviewable play is a huge step in the right direction.

The proposal, which passed by a 31-1 vote from the owners, now allows coaches the opportunity to challenge pass interference calls against their team or challenge non-calls they believe should a flag should have been thrown.

Last year, the Chiefs were penalized 14 times for pass interference, which was the second-most in the league behind the New Orleans Saints (18), and the Chiefs were on the receiving end of that call nine times.

Teams will still only have two challenges per half, and inside of two minutes, the challenges will continue to be controlled by the booth.

Above all, this is to make sure that a subjective call made in a key moment doesn’t directly affect the result of a game. These plays and calls are often in big moments or situations on passes down the field or chunk plays, and again, it’s about getting the call right in those moments. 

The ability to review pass interference calls and non-calls came to the forefront after the NFC Championship Game last January, when Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit New Orleans Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis early on a third-down play late in the fourth quarter in a key moment. There was no penalty called on the play.

The Rams went on to win the game and earn a spot in the Super Bowl.

"I personally believe it was the fact that every club wanted to get, and the league wanted to get these plays right," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a press conference immediately following the vote. "Replay is to get it right. And ultimately people compromised, I think, on long-held views because they want to get the system right. They want to get the play right."

With the league’s reigning MVP at quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, who is coming off one of the best seasons for a quarterback in NFL history, it’s fair to think a team with a dangerous passing attack like the Chiefs will be on the beneficial end of this rule change more so than a team without such a dynamic air game.

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