For Los Angeles Rams fans, the 2019 NFC championship game was decided by a beautiful kick. A 57-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal put them ahead 26-23, sending them to the Super Bowl. If you ask a New Orleans Saints fan what decided the game, you’ll get a totally different answer. They’ll say it was a blown pass interference call near the end of regulation that allowed the Rams to steal the victory.
Thanks in large part due to that bad call, NFL league owners voted to make pass interference calls (and non-calls) reviewable. The league has experimented with changing pass interference rules before, but this is the first proposed change in some time to stick. How will this affect the way the game is played? Let’s take a look at three ways reviewable pass interference calls will change the game.
It may increase the length of the game
One of the negative aspects of the NFL review process is that inevitably, more reviews means the games last longer. That’s why the NFL instituted a time limit on official and booth reviews when it initially adopted instant replay.
Coaches won’t have extra challenges. They’ll still have two with the possibility of a third if they get the first two correct. With all pass interference calls now reviewable, however, it makes it less likely that coaches will let any challenges go unused. So, get ready for more reviews, the referees going into the replay tent more often, and games that last longer.
It will change the way defensive backs cover receivers
There’s never been a better time to be a wide receiver in the NFL. Teams pass like never before, and the rules have never been friendlier to offenses, particularly receivers trying to get open. The new review rules give receivers another advantage over defensive backs.
Secondary coaches and defensive coordinators might spend more time in training camp and practice teaching their players how not to commit pass interference.
It’s hard to say exactly how this will change the way defenses cover receivers. But there’s no question it will force them to be more cognizant of not committing pass interference since they’re now much less likely to get away with it.
It will lead to more correct calls
This may be the most obvious way it will impact the game, but it’s also the most positive. Giving officials an opportunity to review another type of play will give them a higher chance of getting the call right.
This rule gives officials the opportunity to avoid games ending the same way the NFC Championship did.
For all the faults of instant replay, such as the way it slows down the game and removes the human element from officiating, this one will have a positive impact. Now, if a defensive back commits pass interference, the chances that he will get away with it are all but removed (provided the opposing coach has the necessary challenges to contest the call).
For all the hard work NFL players put into mastering their craft, they deserve to be rewarded for superior performance. The best way to do that is to give the officials the best chance to get as many calls right as possible. This new rule does just that.
Changing pass interference review rules is good for the game
Changing pass interference reviews may be too little, too late for Saints fans, but this is good news for the rest of the league, particularly teams who like to throw the ball downfield. This rule will certainly make it harder for defensive backs, but like with any rule, defenses will adjust and adapt with new strategies as needed.
The bottom line is that the last point mentioned above is the most important. This will lead to less blown pass interference calls by officials, which is ultimately a great thing for the game.