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NFL finalizes pass interference replay changes for 2019 season

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Now that it’s been unanimously voted by the competition committee, these are the rule changes for 2019

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The missed pass interference call during the NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints was always going to cause an overreaction. Saints fans are probably still sick to their stomach every time it gets brought up.

We touched on the revised rule in Wednesday’s nuggets. Later on that morning the Competition Committee unanimously recommended the rule approved in March for instant replay of pass interference remain in effect for the 2019 season only. Let’s take a look at some of the changes of note.

Revisions

The replay official will stop the game after the two-minute warning of each half and during overtime:

  • When there is a “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 be reversed if:

  • 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. In slow motion, we are going to run into this issue far more than we should. As someone who works with defensive backs and has for the good majority of this decade, it drives me insane knowing that good coverage or plays on the ball will be flagged due to a slow motion angle. You can call holding on every play in the trenches. There is plenty of hand-fighting that goes on during a play. When you slow it down, the defense will predominantly be at a disadvantage.

The NFL is allowing the “Hail Mary” play to be reviewed. That’s just asking for it. Somebody is going to get hosed over this. It’s going to come at the most inopportune time as well.

Reading through the updated rules and what is being finalized, “clear and obvious visual evidence” is in the article seven times. Think the league is trying to hammer home a point?

The broadcast angles mention bothers me. Since the network is the one that controls which angles are shown, and if they are full speed or slow motion, not to mention they can cut off the play at any time. There is too much of a chance that natural human bias gets in the way. On the one hand, the NFL the right thing and addressing some obvious issues to the rules. On the other hand, there’s still too much subjectivity involved. We’ve seen over and over again weekly that even if a play is reviewed, it doesn’t mean they’re going to get the call correct.