Should pass interference be a reviewable call? That’s how many fans feel after the Rams got away with a blatant version of it in the NFC Championship game on Sunday. Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis had gotten open on the sideline with a pass coming to him from Brees. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman came in and, without even playing the ball, lit up Leelewis.
Not every interference play is quite so obvious, but this one was easy to see at full speed and even more obvious in replay. Had officials been allowed to review the call, or even have it challenged by the Saints, then the pass interference could have been called retroactively and given to the Saints. That isn’t allowed by the current rules, though, and the Saints went on to lose in overtime.
The no-call has become a major talking point in the aftermath of championship weekend. And it’s sparked a loud call for change in how the NFL handles officiating rules. Could spot fouls like this be reviewable in the future? According to the Washington Post, it’s at least a possibility being discussed!
The Post reported on Monday that changes could be coming to the rule this offseason.
“It will be discussed at length along with additional fouls that coaches feel should be subject to review,” one person familiar with the league’s inner workings said Monday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing public furor over the botched call in New Orleans.
A high-ranking official with one NFL team confirmed that making pass interference reviewable will be considered, adding: “And there will be discussion on [replay] review of calls and non-calls.”
The problem with making interference a reviewable rule is that so much of it can be considered subjective. What someone may consider to be interference could be seen as a case of just two guys being physical to someone else. How every official, player, and coach views contact is going to vary. Allowing this to become something that will be reviewed could open up a Pandora’s Box that the NFL just doesn’t want to deal with. Football games are already long and allowing more chance for review could slow certain games down to a halt.
At the same time, there has to be a way to make plays that were obviously gotten wrong on the field fixed without it getting too complicated. It’s frustrating to know that, had the refs just been given a chance to look at the play again, they would have made the right call. It’s not often that simple, though. Will making sure that one play goes the correct way be worth the amount of times officials have to go under the hood for the more minor interference calls?
One way to do this would be how the NBA handles out of bounds calls. The only time refs are allowed to review an out of bounds possession call is in the final two minutes of the game. If the NFL really wants to give reviewing interference calls a try then implement it in this way. Any play before the two-minute warning can’t be reviewed for interference. The NFL could also allow it to be reviewed on scoring plays since all touchdowns are reviewed automatically already. This would be a good compromise without creating a severe risk in putting games to a complete halt. But we’ll see if the league does anything this offseason to alter the current rule.