NFL owners approved the expansion of replay review to allow for both offensive and defensive pass interference. They are the first penalties to be added to the list of approved reviews.
However, the rule will only be for one year.
Coaches will be able to challenge non-calls for pass interference as well and like all other reviews, the replay booth will initiate challenges under the final two minutes of each half.
Owners passed the provision, 31-1, at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday night. The lone team to vote against pass interference replay review were the Cincinnati Bengals, sources told NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
The reviewability of pass interference calls and non-calls became a hot topic after the NFC Championship game when Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman made obvious contact with New Orleans Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis on a third-down play in the fourth quarter. No penalty was called on the play and the Rams ended up defeating the Saints to move on to the Super Bowl. Saints owner Gayle Benson even released a statement on the non-call.
After Tuesday’s vote to allow for pass interference, Benson celebrated the rule change.
“This is what I wanted to happen. That’s why I made my statement,” Benson told reporters, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport “[The non-call in the NFC title game] will never happen again.”
Other votes that occurred on Tuesday included making the 2018 changes to the kickoff rule permanent (like the new pass interference review rule, the 2018 kickoff rule change was a one-year trial basis). The owners also voted to eliminate all blindside blocks, not just ones to the head or neck area, to increase player safety.
The league points out that one-third of all concussions suffered by players on punts were caused by blindside blocks.
Another approval was giving teams a choice in the timing of enforcement on a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct after a scoring play. The yardage can now be marked off on either the extra point or the kickoff.