In this installment of senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron’s weekly officiating tapes, the head of officials looks solely at pass interference calls with respect to the new replay rules that make pass interference reviewable. This week’s video is broken down in four major parts: the review of offensive pass interference fouls, defensive pass interference fouls, and reviewing for potential offensive and defensive pass interference.
The central dogma where replay is concerned is that there must be clear and obvious visual evidence provided to Art McNally Gameday Central by any or all television camera angles in order to change the ruling on the field. Riveron tends to hammer in this point when referring to any reviewable aspects of a play, but especially with the introduction of pass interference to the list. In order to create a foul for pass interference in replay, there must be clear and obvious contact which significantly hinders the receiver or defender’s right to a play on the ball in flight. On the other hand, to pick up a flag for pass interference, it must be clear and obvious that there was no hindrance. For the latter, replay has not yet picked up a flag.
|Offensive pass interference called||* 0 / 4||0%|
|Defensive pass interference called||0 / 8||0%|
|Review to assess offensive pass interference||* 1 / 6||17%|
|Review to assess defensive pass interference||* 5 / 18||28%|
|TOTAL||*** 6 / 36||17%|
|*includes 1 booth review (none reversed)|
In the first two weeks of the preseason, including the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, only 25% of replay reviews for potential pass interference resulted in a flag being put down. Keep in mind, these numbers for reviews are higher than they will be in the regular season, as coaches are testing the contours of pass interference in replay.
One of these reversals received an unexpected response from Riveron. In a play from Dolphins-Buccaneers in the second preseason week, side judge Jimmy Russell threw a flag for defensive pass interference for an arm bar, but after a discussion, the flag was picked up. After a review, the ruling was changed to defensive pass interference. Riveron explained that the players engaged in incidental contact, followed by locking arms, which does not rise to the clear and obvious standard. This is a very unprecedented statement, as this is the first time that Riveron has publicly acknowledged that centralized replay made an error.
Riveron also highlighted a play that wasn’t reviewed, but was brought to his attention through a coach’s inquiry. On the play, no flag was thrown for offensive pass interference, when a tight end blocked downfield on a short pass, known as a pick play. When in replay, the only camera angles given to the referee, the replay official, and Art McNally Gameday Central are provided by the television network. In preseason, there are much less angles in use than in the regular season. In this game, there were only two angles that were able to be viewed in replay. In both of these angles, the pick play was not visible, therefore, this play could not be reversed. In the coaches’ film angles, also known as all-22, the pick play can be seen and is definitely a foul, but since it is not clear and obvious on the network camera angles, a foul cannot be applied. This same explanation was used in the play from the Cincinnati-Washington preseason game where an offensive pass interference foul was disputed.
With these kinks in the system, there may be some controversy going forward. However, the statistics are clear, only one-sixth of reviews resulted in a reversal, so Riveron and the rest of the staff at Gameday Central will really need the clear and obvious evidence to overturn a call on the field, and otherwise err on the side of the covering official’s judgment.
The officiating video is divided into parts below. The pass interference reversals have commentary from Riveron. The calls that stood had no narration, and we added music so you know that your device’s sound is still working.