NFL's Most Controversial Replay Rule is Now Dead

Tim Kelly
May 08, 2020 - 9:35 am
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The NFL begrudgingly introduced pass interference replay for the 2019 season. Quietly, they've elected not to bring the rule back for another season.

As noted by Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith, Rich McKay - the head of the NFL's competition committee - said on SiriusXM NFL Radio Thursday that pass interference won't return for another season. Because the rule was only instituted for one season, another team would have had to propose it to return for the 2020 season and that apparently didn't happen.

After then-Los Angeles Rams' cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman's blatant pass interference on New Orleans Saints' wide receiver Tommylee Lewis wasn't called in the fourth quarter of the 2018 NFC Championship Game, the league essentially had no choice but to experiment with pass interference replay. The non-call almost certainly changed who won the NFC Championship Game, and potentially Super Bowl LIII:

Early in the 2019 season, there were an excessive amount of replay challenges, as coaches tried to push the envelope to determine just how much replay would overturn. The answer? How much of a burden of proof there had to be to overturn a call seemed to vary by week.

There was also the unintended consequence that teams on defense could regularly check to see after a big play if the offensive player who had gotten open committed pass interference, which wasn't what the rule was really introduced to check:

Ultimately, the rule became pretty universally unpopular, so it's not a surprise to see it eliminated. However, don't rule it out in the future, especially if there is another egregious missed call on a big stage. Perhaps the rule could work if instead of coaches getting to challenge, pass interference replays could only be initiated by the booth.

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