Week 5: Broncos at Chargers
There are grumblings in the Mile High City about the last-second desperation pass by Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. The pass landed incomplete, however, the Mile High Report is throwing a virtual flag for defensive pass interference.
Video of the play is on NFL.com.
Even though time expires during the play, if there is a defensive penalty, the quarter is extended by an untimed down. In the case of a hypothetical defensive pass interference, the ball is placed at the 1-yard line for a single shot at the end zone.
All of the scrambling by Tebow does have an affect on the non-call. Because he is running, the play could potentially develop into a rush, and therefore downfield contact related to pass coverage comes off the board. That’s not to say that you get a free shot, as the Browns found out in 2009. Once the play becomes a definitive pass play, then pass interference comes back on the table.
It is unclear if the ball is in the air when the contact is happening, so we can’t evaluate that in our opinion.
However, the and the defender are locking up with each other mutually, so an official can hold his flag. The spirit of the pass interference rule is to avoid an advantage going to either team through contact. Therefore, if both players are guilty of grapling each other, neither player has gained an advantage. Very, very rarely is there a call of offsetting pass interference fouls.
The Chargers cornerback Dante Hughes does attain an advantage by pushing receiver Matthew Willis out of bounds. By doing so, the receiver immediately becomes ineligible to catch the ball unless it is first touched by another player. However, in this case, it was a by-product of their mutual combativeness that the receiver became overpowered and stepped out. Had the defender disengaged the block and then shoved the receiver, you have textbook DPI.
It is a judgement call, always one to be the subject of discontent on such a pivotal play, whether it is called or not called.