NFL finalizes PI replay challenge rule for 2019

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The NFL’s Competition Committee finalized its new rule Thursday for reviewing pass interference, opting against several suggested tweaks and upholding the wording owners originally approved in March.

As a result, coaches will be able to challenge pass interference calls or no-calls up until the two-minute warning of either half. In the final two minutes of each half and in overtime, on-site replay officials will be responsible for stopping the game to review pass interference, as they are for all other reviewable plays.

The rule will cover the 2019 season, after which owners will decide whether to extend, tweak or eliminate it for 2020.

Committee members, concerned about excessive stoppages during the final moments of games, floated the idea of prohibiting replay officials from stopping the game to review pass interference. Instead, that responsibility would have remained with coaches. But a number of coaches pushed back on that idea, worried that it would impact their timeout strategy. (Challenges can be made only if a team has a timeout remaining.)

To address the concerns about stoppages, the committee has instructed replay officials to use a “stricter criteria” for stopping the game to review pass interference. In a video released on Twitter, the NFL said there must be “clear and obvious evidence” that a pass interference foul may or may not have occurred in order to stop the game for a review.

The committee will also allow Hail Mary plays to be reviewed, according to the video, as long as it is “consistent with the guidelines for officiating the play on the field.” Such plays typically include heavy contact between receivers and defenders, but officials rarely penalize them for it. The expectation around the NFL is that replay officials will rarely, if ever, stop the game to review Hail Marys.



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