Brian Flores irate after questionable pass-interference review sets up Jets for game-winning FG

Pass-interference review rules have changed midseason.

The NFL hasn’t acknowledged it, but what warrants a pass-interference reversal in Week 14 is not the same as it was in Week 8.

There’s no better example than a questionable call on Sunday that set up the New York Jets for a game-winning field goal and left Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores screaming at officials.

Pass interference review sets up Jets win

Trailing 21-19, the Jets faced third-and-18 at the Dolphins’ 46-yard line with 47 seconds remaining. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold looked over the middle to wide receiver Vyncint Smith, who failed to haul in the catch with Dolphins cornerback Nik Needham defending.

There was contact on the play, but no flag. With the game being in the final two minutes of regulation, officials initiated a review to determine if there was pass interference.

As officials in contact with the league’s New York officiating office reviewed the play, Flores had stern words with another official standing near the sideline.

Flores furious

When the call came in that Needham had been called for pass interference, Flores lost it, giving an earful to the line judge standing next to him.

Call sets up field goal

Instead of facing fourth-and-18, the Jets were set up with first-and-10 at the Dolphins’ 38-yard line. Three plays and 12 yards later, kicker Sam Ficken connected on a 44-yard field goal as time expired to secure a 22-21 Jets victory.

At this point, Flores was roiling and ran to midfield to scream at officials again.

Flores right to be mad

It’s hard to blame Flores, who refused to answer questions about the officiating after the game. The pass interference call was borderline at best. Four weeks ago, NFL vice president of officiating Al Riveron’s office wouldn’t have considered that contact anything close to warranting an overturned call.

Blatant pass interference penalties were being challenged and ignored on replay with regularity. NFL officials were under heavy fire from coaches, fans and media for the new rule that didn’t address obvious instances of blown calls on the field.

Standard has changed midseason

The NFL has clearly responded to that criticism and changed the standard for overturning a call in the opposite direction. Now, instead of declining to overturn obvious pass-interference mistakes, officials are changing calls on the field for borderline, questionable plays.

And it’s changing the outcomes of games.

The standard for pass interference reviews has clearly changed, and Brian Flores was furious about it on Sunday. (Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The standard for pass interference reviews has clearly changed, and Brian Flores was furious about it on Sunday. (File/Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NFL can’t get it right

There were cries when the league initiated pass-interference replay for this season that it had the potential to create chaos. What’s ensued has been a worst-case scenario.

The league got it wrong with its initial interpretation of the rule and responded to criticism by swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction.

It shouldn’t be this hard. The NFL should simply correct obvious cases of missed calls on the field. But it’s not, and it’s moving the target.

And Flores is rightfully furious about falling victim to it.

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