Based on a critical non-call of pass interference in the final minute of the 49ers-Buccaneers game, it appears that the standard for throwing a flag via replay review is higher than it was believed to be.
“It was determined that both the offensive player and defensive player were contacting each other as they were going down the field,” senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron said in a video explaining the decision to uphold the ruling on the field. “Neither player significantly hindered the other’s opportunity to make a play on the ball. Therefore the ruling on the field stood.”
The video suggests otherwise. Although review of the full play shows a subtle shove by Evans while the two are jostling for position, Sherman clearly and obvious hinders Evans as the ball is arriving. While it’s not the same kind of blatant hit that marred the outcome of the NFC Championship game, it’s much more obvious than the examples of non-calls from 2018 that Riveron had said would have resulted in a reversal via replay review. Indeed, former NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino said during the FOX broadcast that replay review should have resulted in a ruling of pass interference.
Given the messages sent by Riveron before the regular season began, the situation continues to be confusing. Based on Riveron’s doubling-down video, it appears that the bar for a reversal is higher than he had previously led the media to believe it would be. As the remaining 240 regular-season games unfold, it will be interesting to see whether this same high bar will apply in future cases, requiring something even more than the “what the hell!?!” standard we’ve previously suggested for these reviews.
Based on the decision not to drop the flag via replay review in 49ers-Bucs, the standard for a reversal actually may be “what the f–k!?!”