NFL owners have voted to now allow replay reviews on pass interference calls as well as non-calls. Both offensive and defensive pass interference calls will now be challengeable, making them the first penalties in the history of the league’s replay system to be added to the list of approved reviews. Prior to the rule change, pass interference was not replay-review eligible.
The league voted in favor of rule change, 31-1. The Cincinnati Bengals were reportedly the only team to vote against the measure. The new rule will be implemented on a one-year trial basis.
With the rule change, coaches will be able to challenge non-calls for pass interference for the first time. They can challenge pass interference calls or non-calls outside of two minutes of each half, with coaches still limited to two challenges per game. If they are successful on the first two challenges, a third will be awarded. The replay booth, along with the league’s officiating office in New York, will automatically review any close calls inside of two minutes.
Pass interference is the most impactful penalty call in the NFL by far due to the yardage involved. Over the past three seasons, defensive pass interference has cost teams an average of 15.2 yards per call. There were 249 pass interference calls last season, along with additional violations that went uncalled.
The new rule comes after pressure from coaches and fans upset by a missed pass interference call in January’s NFC Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman hit receiver TommyLee Lewis before a pass arrived during a play late in the fourth quarter, but wasn’t flagged for the action. The Saints eventually lost in overtime, seeing the Rams advance to the Super Bowl. The new rule would allow officials to change such a critical call in the future.