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Competition Committee reaffirms March pass-interference review rule which still has many technical issues

After months of deliberation over new pass interference reviews, the Competition Committee unanimously approved a decision that will keep the rule as passed in March, allowing a coach’s challenge or replay official’s review of pass interference that is either flagged or not flagged.  The rule change came about after the infamous no-call pass interference in the NFC Championship Game where Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman initiated illegal contact on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis while a Drew Brees pass was airborne late in the fourth quarter.

The call and subsequent NFL non-response response until days after the game led to an admission by the league that it should’ve been called. Saints head coach and member of the Competition Committee Sean Payton used his leverage to influence an eventual rule change by advancing a proposal to make a subjective foul calls reviewable by replay.

The Competition Committee then voted last week to reaffirm the new rule, after it was given authority to make small changes to the rule passed in March. While there was no change to the pass interference rule itself, the new policy allowing pass interference calls to be reviewable has gone through several iterations since March when the rule was first proposed. First, the owners approved reworked proposal to make pass interference reviewable without a flag being thrown. Then in May, the owners voted to preauthorize certain changes but the committee, such as to only allow coaches to challenge in the final two minutes of the game. Lastly, on Thursday the committee decided to not let coaches challenge pass interference calls in the final two minutes, though they still retain the power to do so at other stages of the game.

The rule change is only in effect for the 2019 season, and would require a  ¾-vote of the owners to retain it in 2020.

The committee also inserted language, likely in the replay casebook, that states that only “clear and obvious visual evidence” will be cause for the replay official to call for a review after the 2-minute warning. But is the replay official going to shut it down if the offense is rushing the snap? A source with knowledge of the replay system says that the replay official has “10 seconds, in the no-huddle, you’re likely to have 5 seconds.”

The new replay process will fall under the new video replay process the NFL began implementing this offseason as part of its sweeping changes to personnel who review calls and the new camera angles available to them.  

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