NFL Officially Adopts New Pass Interference Rule, But for One Year Only


Ever since the obvious missed pass interference call during the Los Angeles Rams-New Orleans Saints NFC championship game, the push to have PI reviewed — from Louisiana and elsewhere — has been a passionate one.

The NFL’s Competition Committee heard the pros and cons of reviewing these plays, and on Thursday they finalized a new rule regarding the review of pass interference.

Coaches will now be able to challenge pass interference calls or noncalls, such as the one in the Rams-Saints game, up until the two-minute warning in either half.

In the final two minutes, just as with coaches’ challenges, reviews will go up to the booth and on-site replay officials will decide if a call or noncall should be reviewed.

The new rule will be in effect for just the 2019 season, after which owners will then decide whether to alter it, keep it as is or eliminate it.

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That one-year provisional period is consistent with many other rule changes, such as moving the PAT attempt from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line. That move went into effect during the 2015 season, after which it was reviewed and the owners decided to keep it going forward.

The NFL’s Football Operations Department posted a slideshow video on Twitter detailing how the new PI rule will be enforced.

Are you in favor of pass interference calls and noncalls being reviewed?

The second-to-last slide touches on Hail Mary passes, saying they “will be reviewed in replay consistent with the guidelines for officiating the play on the field.”

That seems to indicate that they will be governed differently from other passes because, as one Twitter user pointed out, pass interference could be called on most Hail Mary attempts.

On Wednesday, the NFL held a media summit in which Senior Vice President of Officiating Albert Riveron cited a play in Week 15’s Los Angeles Chargers-Kansas City Chiefs game as an application of the new rule.

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With 13 seconds left in the game, the Chiefs’ Kendall Fuller interfered with the Chargers’ Mike Williams, giving the ball to the Chargers on the 1-yard line.

Riveron said that if the automatic replay review were in effect for that play, the call would have been PI on both players with offsetting penalties.

Instead, the Chargers scored a touchdown from the 1-yard line on the next play and then converted a 2-point try for a one-point victory.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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