NFL Rules Changes: Pass interference can now be reviewed by replay

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Saints denied Super Bowl by missed call.

The final result of the NFC Championship will not be changed but the NFL’s replay rules have been as a result of the famous Saints-Rams no call.

Pass interference will now be among the plays subject to replay review, the league announced Tuesday during their annual owners meetings in Phoenix. Both offensive and defensive interference, called and not called, can be challenged by head coaches. As with other replays, the replay official is in charge of whether pass interference is reviewed during the final two minutes of each half and overtime.

Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman blantly interfered with Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on a crucial third down with less than two minutes remaining during the fourth quarter of a tied NFL title game. New Orleans settled for a field goal and eventually lost in overtime.

See below for all changes to NFL game rules:

Approved 2019 Playing Rules, Bylaws and Resolutions from NFL Annual Meeting

The below playing rules, bylaws and resolutions were adopted by NFL clubs today at the NFL meetings in Phoenix, Arizona.

Approved 2019 Playing Rules Summary

1.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the kickoff rule changes that were implemented during the 2018 season.

2.   By Competition Committee; Expands protection to a defenseless player.

3.   By Competition Committee; Changes the enforcement of double fouls when there is a change of possession.

4.   By Competition Committee; Simplifies the application of scrimmage kick rules for missed field goals.

5.   By Competition Committee; Allows teams to elect to enforce on the succeeding try or on the succeeding free kick an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.

6c. Attached – For one year only, expands the reviewable plays in Instant Replay to include pass interference, called or not called on the field. Also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any Try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).

16. By Competition Committee; to amend Rule 15, Section 1, Article 5 to allow League personnel to disqualify for both flagrant football and non-football acts.

Approved 2019 Bylaws Summary

1.    By Buffalo; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.4 to liberalize the rule for reacquisition of a player assigned via waivers.

2.    By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.1 to provide clubs with more roster flexibility during training camp.

3.    By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to provide teams more effective access to players during the postseason.

4.    By Competition Committee; to amend Article XIV, Section 14.3(B)(8) to make the tie-breaking procedures fairer for the selection meeting.

5.    By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.1 to provide additional roster spots during the preseason.

6.   By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVII, Section 12.3 to offer more roster flexibility.

Approved 2019 Resolutions Summary

G-1.   By Competition Committee; to amend the Anti-Tampering Policy to permit an interested club to contact a Vested Veteran before clubs have been notified of the player’s termination via the Player Personnel Notice if (i) the players is not subject to the Waivers System and, (ii) the employer club has publicly announced the player’s release.

G-2a. By Competition Committee; for one year only, Clubs will receive the League’s post-game responses to officiating inquiries submitted by any club.

2019 PLAYING RULE PROPOSAL NO. 6C

For one year only, amend Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 2, 4, and 5 (Instant Replay, pgs. 62-63) (new language underlined, deleted language struck through):

SECTION 2   INSTANT REPLAY

The League will employ a system of Instant Replay Review to aid officiating as defined below. The following procedures will be used:

ARTICLE 1. COACHES’ CHALLENGE. In each game, a team will be permitted two challenges that will initiate Instant Replay reviews. The Head Coach will initiate a challenge by throwing a red flag onto the field of play before the next legal snap or kick. Each challenge will require the use of a team timeout. If a challenge is upheld, the timeout will be restored. A challenge will only be restored if a team is successful on both of its challenges, in which case it shall be awarded a third challenge, but a fourth challenge will not be permitted under any circumstances.

A team may challenge any reviewable play identified in Article 5 below, except when the on-field ruling is:

(a) a score for either team;

(b) an interception;

(c) a fumble or backward pass that is recovered by an opponent or goes out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone; or

(d) a muffed scrimmage kick recovered by the kicking team.

A team may not challenge a reviewable play:

(a) after the two-minute warning of each half;

(b) throughout any overtime period;

(c) after committing a foul that delays the next snap; and

(d) after exhausting all of its challenges or timeouts.

If a team initiates a challenge when it is not permitted to do so, it will be charged a timeout.

Penalty: For initiating a challenge when a team has exhausted its timeouts: Loss of 15 yards.

ARTICLE 2. REQUEST FOR REVIEW. A Replay Review will be initiated by a member of the Officiating department from a location in the League office or a Replay Official from a Replay Booth comparable to the location of the coaches’ booth or Press Box when the on-field ruling is:

(a) a score for either team;

(b) an interception;

(c) a fumble or backward pass that is recovered by an opponent or goes out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone;

(d) a muffed scrimmage kick recovered by the kicking team;

(e) after the two-minute warning of each half;

(f) throughout any overtime period; and

(g) any disqualification of a player.; and

(h) any Try attempt (successful or unsuccessful).

There is no limit to the number of Replay Reviews that may be initiated by personnel designated in this Article. The ability of the designated personnel to initiate a review will be unrelated to the number of timeouts that either team has remaining, and no timeout will be charged for any review initiated pursuant to this Article. The designated personnel must initiate a review before the ball is next legally put in play. Such reviews will be initiated regardless of whether a foul is committed on the play that, if accepted, would negate the on-field rulings listed in (a)-(d) above.

ARTICLE 3. REPLAY REVIEWS. All Replay Reviews will be conducted by a designated member of the Officiating department at the League office. During the review of on-field rulings other than player disqualifications, the designee shall consult with the Referee, who will have access to a hand-held, field-level device. A decision will be reversed only when there is clear and obvious visual evidence available that warrants the change.

Prior to consulting with the Officiating department designee, the Referee will discuss the play with the covering official(s) to gather any information that may be pertinent to the review.

Each review will be a maximum of 60 seconds in length, timed from when the hand-held, field-level device is provided to the Referee.

Unless the Replay Review is for a player disqualification, all reviewable aspects of the play may be examined and are subject to reversal, even if not identified in a coach’s challenge or if not the specific reason for a review initiated by a member of the Officiating department or the Replay Official.

ARTICLE 4. NON-REVIEWABLE PLAYS. The following play situations are not reviewable:

(a) Fouls, except for Article 5(g) and (j) below.

(b) Spot of the ball and runner:

(1) Runner ruled down by defensive contact or out of bounds (not involving fumbles or the line to gain).

(2) The position of the ball not relating to first down or goal line.

(3) Whether a runner’s forward progress was stopped before he went out of bounds or lost possession of the ball.

(4) Whether a runner gave himself up.

(c) Miscellaneous:

(1) Field Goal or Try attempts that cross above either upright without touching anything.     (2) Erroneous whistle.

(3) Spot where an airborne ball crossed the sideline.

(4) Whether a player was blocked into a loose ball.

(5) Advance by a player after a valid or invalid fair catch signal.

(6) Whether a player created the impetus that put the ball into an end zone.

ARTICLE 5. REVIEWABLE PLAYS. The Replay System will cover the following play situations:

(a) Plays involving possession.

(b) Plays involving touching of either the ball or the ground.

(c) Plays governed by the goal line.

(d) Plays governed by the boundary lines.

(e) Plays governed by the line of scrimmage.

(f) Plays governed by the line to gain.

(g) Number of players on the field at the snap, even when a foul is not called.

(h) Game administration:

(1) Penalty enforcement.

(2) Proper down.

(3) Spot of a foul.

(4) Status of the game clock.

(i) Disqualification of a player.

(j) Pass interference, called or not called (offensive or defensive) (See Rule 8, Section 5, Articles 1-4).

In situations in which time is deemed to have expired during or after the last play of the first or second half, or of an overtime period in the preseason or regular season, or of an overtime half in the postseason, a timing error is defined as having occurred only when the visual evidence demonstrates that more than one second should be put on the clock.

In the first half, time shall be restored only if the additional play will be a snap from scrimmage. In the second half, time shall be restored only if it is a one-score game (eight points or fewer), and the additional play will be a snap from scrimmage by the team that is behind in the score, or by either team if the score is tied. A correction of a timing error for a team timeout may be made only if there is visual evidence of an official’s signal.

If an on-field ruling of a dead ball (down by contact, out of bounds, or incomplete forward pass) is changed, the ball belongs to the recovering player at the spot of the recovery, and any advance is nullified. The recovery must occur in the continuing action following the loss of possession. If the ball goes out of bounds in an end zone, the result of the play will be either a touchback or a safety. If the Referee does not have clear and obvious visual evidence as to which player recovered the loose ball, or that the ball went out of bounds, the ruling on the field will stand.

These reviewable play situations are explained in further detail in the Instant Replay Casebook.

Submitted by Competition Committee

Effect:       For one year only, expands the reviewable plays in Instant Replay to include pass interference, called or not called on the field. Also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any Try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).

Reason:     Integrity of the game.

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