Replay reviews automatic for turnovers

2012 rule changes

Coaches will have to resist the urge to keep their red challenge flags in their pockets on plays where there is a turnover.

Any play that involves a change of possession by a turnover is now only reviewable at the replay official’s discretion. If a coach tries to initiate a coach’s challenge on a turnover, not only will the request be denied, but the team will be assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (see update below).

Plays that are not ruled turnovers can, however, be challenged by the coach if he feels there was a change of possession, and the replay booth cannot initiate a review of a play that could potentially have a change of possession.

For the purposes of replay, the following plays are considered turnovers:

  • Interception
  • Lost fumble
  • Muffed catch of a kick recovered by the kicking team
  • Kicking team recovers an onside kick
  • Fumble that goes out of bounds through the opponent’s end zone (ruled a touchback for the opponent)

Not considered turnovers are routine punts and kickoffs, fumbles recovered by the offense, failure to convert a fourth down, and turnovers that are wiped out due to a penalty.

All aspects of the turnover play are under review, so long as the actual review takes 60 seconds or less. Therefore, if there is an unrelated reviewable aspect to the play, it may be overturned if the replay official requests the review.

In addition to the coverage of turnovers, a replay official also has sole authority to challenge all scoring plays, any play after the two-minute warning of either half, and any play in overtime.

Update 10/22/12: Improper challenge forfeits opportunity for review.  One additional aspect to a denied challenge that I have confirmed with two former NFL officiating supervisors is that the replay official may not review a play that was improperly challenged. Therefore, the play is to stand as called, because of a rule that states that the foul delays the ensuing snap. An exception is that the replay official may challenge an aspect of the play that benefits the team that did not challenge when the other team did. The rule was added to prevent a team from taking an intentional penalty to give the replay booth extra time to consider a review, although it did not exclude penalties during a dead-ball period after a score or change of possession.

Ben Austro

About Ben Austro

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of FootballZebras.com

6 Responses to Replay reviews automatic for turnovers

  1. JWaite says:

    Should Bill Belichick have been penalized for challenging the fumble by Aaron Hernandez? If so where should the ball have been spotted? I say it should have been Jet’s ball at their 16.

  2. Ben Austro Ben Austro says:

    He should have been penalized, and the play would not be subject to booth review anymore. It would’ve been Jets ball, 1st & 10 at the 35 (touchback + UNS foul)

    See our Quick Calls post http://www.footballzebras.com/2012/10/21/4829/

  3. JWaite says:

    Thanks for the quick replay.

    That’s right, the original call was a touch back, so the 15 yard penalty would have put the ball at the 35. Do you happen to know the rule # that says the play won’t be reviewed if a coach makes an illegal challenge? I’m having a difficult time convincing some buddies that the challenge was illegal and that it would have cancelled the review.

    Thanks again for the quick reply!

  4. Ben Austro Ben Austro says:

    The entire replay section of the rulebook is listed under Officials Duties, jammed in there with various officiating minutiae. It is why there can be different interpretations of the parameters of replay.

    If a foul delays the snap, it invalidates any review for your team. That is broadly interpreted to count fouls between downs.

  5. Josh says:

    Have reviewed the rulebook and don’t see anything that specifically addresses, “a rule that states that the foul delays the ensuing snap.” Could you please cite this rule and the context in which it is stated in your reading of the rule book. Thanks.

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