A controversial no-call cost the Detroit Lions a playoff win in 2015. Under a new rule, pass interference is now reviewable, but is that even a good thing?
Remember the time the Detroit Lions were about to win their first road playoff game in nearly 60 years? Remember the interference flag that was inexplicably picked back up, returning the ball to Dallas midway through the 4th quarter?
Well guess what, as of last week, that’s reviewable now! Along with the tuck rule, surviving the ground, and the process of the catch. Get ready to add the phrase putting a flag on the field to your football vocabulary next season. Forgive me for not celebrating though.
Sure, adding pass interference to the ever-increasing laundry list of reviewable calls sounds cute at first. The refs missed a key call in the NFC Championship game, it would have been nice for the Saints to get a second opinion. Come on though, who really thinks that this rule is going to consistently be applied correctly?
Why this rule change hardly solves anything
- There are already way too many booth reviews. I really liked the “pick your battles” element to the old system. Coaches were allowed maybe one or two challenges, and they got a little more help in the last two minutes. There was some insurance from the truly horrible calls, without the tedium of every single thing being looked at every single time.
- Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira might be frontrunners for NFL MVP in 2019. Replay is meant to help games be decided ‘on the field’, but the extreme to all this is that more and more, they’re being decided in the booth. One can hardly even celebrate a big play these days until finding out five minutes later whether the big play even happened or not.
- Pass interference is still a subjective call most of the time. How many inconclusive ticky-tack interference reviews near the end of each half are we now going to sit through to make amends for one call in one game last year?
- Logically, holding is next. Holding happens way more often than interference, players get away with it way more often, and it has just as big of an impact on whether a play is successful or not. We ready to go down that rabbit hole when the ref swallows his whistle on an obvious hold during a playoff game?
- It doesn’t put the Saints in last year’s Super Bowl, it doesn’t put Lions back in the 2015 playoffs.
This isn’t going to make officiating any less controversial, and it’s not going to make the games any more enjoyable to watch. Automatically reviewing every single touchdown and turnover was already taking it too far. This opens the door for instant reviews of every penalty as well.
That’s really how fans prefer to consume the sport? Five seconds of action followed by five minutes of trying to figure out what happened? Count me in the minority then.
Prior experience tells me…
That this adjustment will somehow cost the Lions a game next season.
- Lions force a game-clinching turnover on downs, everyone celebrates the incompletion. No flags.
- Opposing coach either throws the challenge flag, or it gets reviewed from the booth. Slowed down, we see Darius Slay grabbing a little, and the other guy grabbing a little, basically what happens on nearly every pass play.
- We see zoomed in replays of the exact moment the players’ hands touch, played back at least thirty times, while the announcers say: “what we’re looking to see is which player was the contact initiator ” or something to that effect.
- Perreira and Blandino, and five of the six guys in the Fox studio, and 88% of a viewers’ poll agree that the no-call should stand.
- After two commercial breaks, the ref returns to the field, reverses the call, and the other team scores the game-winning touchdown two plays later.
- The exact same situation happens, except the Lions are the ones who need the bailout pass interference.
- Somehow or another, the play isn’t reviewable in this case.
Maybe it would have been nice to have for that one night in Dallas, but considering the baggage that such a rule will likely come with, overall I’ll pass.
Ready for one final piece of irony?
In a span of two days, the NFL owners went from being strongly opposed to this change, to being in favor by a vote of 31-1. What was considered the catalyst for this quick turnaround? An impassioned speech by the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.