It all started when officials in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game didn’t flag Nickell Robey-Coleman for pass interference.
Los Angeles would go on to win the game and represent the conference in the Super Bowl. As you might imagine, this did not sit well with folks in New Orleans. Here’s how Saints coach Sean Payton greeted reporters in the postgame press conference: “Just getting off the phone with the league office. They blew the call.”
A day later, owner Gayle Benson issued a statement that read in part: “I am thoroughly disappointed by the events that led to the outcome of yesterday’s game.”
Some good did come from one of the most egregious missed calls in NFL history: The league has changed the pass interference rule though that too has been overly complicated. On Thursday, however, the NFL Competition Committee “unanimously recommended the rule approved in March for instant replay of pass interference remain in effect for the 2019 season only.”
And here’s the transcript of the video above:
“The replay official will stop the game after the two-minute warning of each half and during OT. When there is ‘clear and obvious visual evidence’ that a pass interference foul may or may not have occurred, based on viewing the play live or any initial replays, a stoppage will occur under stricter criteria than for other reviewable plays to prevent excessive game stoppages.
“A decision on the field will only be reversed based on ‘clear and obvious visual evidence’ that the ruling was incorrect, the same standard for all reviews. This is wholly dependent on video angles shown by broadcast networks.
“By rule, pass interference requires an act that ‘significantly hinders’ an opponent’s opportunity to make a play on the ball. All passing plays will be subject to review for pass interference. The ‘Hail Mary’ play will be reviewed in replay consistent with the guidelines for officiating the play on the field.”
Worth reiterating: The rule is only for the 2019 season.
So what has been tweaked from March, when the rule was first voted on, until now?
March: NFL owners respond to the controversy by allowing pass interference to be reviewed for the first time ever. The new rule applies to both offensive and defensive pass interference, and a flag doesn’t have to be thrown on a play for a PI review to take place.
May: The owners vote to make a slight change to the rule by allowing coaches to challenge interference plays in the final two minutes. Previously, league officials handled all replays during the final two minutes of a game.
June: The NFL decides not to let coaches challenge plays in the final two minutes, although they’ll still be able to challenge interference calls during other parts of the game.
To recap: The new rule doesn’t extend beyond the 2019 season and after voting to let coaches challenge pass interference in the final two minutes, that power now resides with the NFL replay official. Moreover, the new rule stipulates that, “a stoppage will occur under stricter criteria than for other reviewable plays to prevent excessive game stoppages,” and that “A decision on the field will only be reversed based on ‘clear and obvious visual evidence’ that the ruling was incorrect.”