It won’t help the New Orleans Saints feel better, but a report Monday said the NFL could consider making pass interference a reviewable play.
The NFL, constantly reactive instead of proactive, apparently is going to look into changing the challenge rules after the Saints were robbed in Sunday’s NFC championship game. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman blasted Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on a key third down late in Sunday’s game, no call was made, allowing the Rams time to tie the game and eventually win it in overtime. Nobody, not even Robey-Coleman, believes it wasn’t interference. The officials screwed up.
The NFL hadn’t said anything publicly about perhaps the biggest officiating controversy in its history on Monday, but a source did manage to tell Mark Maske of the Washington Post that “NFL leaders and the league’s rulemaking competition committee” plan to consider making pass interference calls subject to challenges and replay review.
Too little, too late to avoid a controversy that will help define the entire 2018-19 NFL season. But perhaps another ridiculous situation could be avoided in the future.
Bill Belichick has called for reviews of everything
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has long said coaches should be able to challenge any call, which makes the NFL’s inaction until Sunday’s horrendous non-call even more egregious.
Belichick’s philosophy has been that all calls should be reviewable. Coaches wouldn’t get more challenges than the two they have already, with a third if the first two are successful. But anything would be fair game. It makes sense.
“When you have two challenges, I don’t see anything wrong with the concept of, ‘You can challenge any two plays you want,’” Belichick said in 2013, according to the Sporting News. “I understand that judgment calls are judgment calls, but to say that an important play can’t be reviewed, I don’t think that’s really in the spirit of trying to get everything right and making sure the most important plays are officiated properly.”
Belichick is one of the smartest people in the NFL, and it might take more than five years for the league to listen to one of his best ideas.
CFL allows pass interference to be reviewed
The Canadian Football League has allowed challenges of pass interference for years. As Lindsay Jones wrote for USA Today in 2016, the league’s officials felt it helped protect the integrity of the game. Which is common sense, except to the NFL, which usually needs something horrible to happen to take action.
Sunday’s result probably would have flipped, rightfully, had Saints coach Sean Payton been allowed to challenge the non-call. It was obviously a blown call, and the NFL admitted as much to Payton after the game. It could have been corrected. Had the Saints gotten that call, they’d have been kicking a short field goal as time expired for the win. Instead, they just get a “sorry” from the league and have to watch the Rams play in Super Bowl LIII.
Oh, but the Saints might get a rule change out of it too. That depends on the NFL following through and three-quarters of the teams agreeing to the rule change, and if we’ve learned anything, it’s that the NFL isn’t great in thinking ahead on these issues.
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