Yes, the bar is higher than we thought it would be.
The first touchdown scored by receiver Antonio Brown as a member of a team other than the Steelers provided the biggest test yet of the NFL’s new procedure for reviewing pass interference calls and non-calls via replay.
Brown appeared to push off to gain separation near the goal line. The play was reviewed, and the non-call of offensive pass interference was upheld.
During the review, CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said that offensive pass interference should have been called on Brown.
Compare Brown’s move to the shove from Chargers receiver Mike Williams in Week 15 of the 2008 season. NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron said throughout the offseason that, under the new procedures, Williams would have been penalized for offensive pass interference.
Like the blatant defensive pass interference committed by 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman last week, the non-call of offensive pass interference by Brown reconfirms the belief in league circles that, at some point before Week One of the regular season, someone told Riveron to shove the bar higher. Much higher.
And that’s fine, as long as all coaches know that the bar is higher, so that they can exercise their challenges (or not) accordingly.