Pass interference now reviewable by NFL officials

PHOENIX — NFL owners have approved a massive philosophical expansion of its replay review system, bowing to pressure from coaches and fans who were outraged by a missed pass interference call in the NFC Championship Game.

For at least the 2019 season, pass interference — both offensive and defensive — will be reviewable, the first penalties and judgment calls ever to be added to the list of approved reviews. Moreover, coaches will be able to challenge non-calls for pass interference. The replay booth, in conjunction with the league’s officiating office in New York, will initiate those challenges in the final two minutes of each half.

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The vote for the replay review changes among owners was 31-1, according to competition committee chairman Rich McKay.

Earlier Tuesday, owners made two expected votes.

They made permanent the 2018 changes to the kickoff rule, which had been made on a one-year trial basis, citing studies that showed the new rule improved player safety. They also voted to eliminate all blindside blocks, not just those to the head or neck area, to increase safety on punts and other plays. It is now a 15-yard penalty if a player initiates a block in which he is moving.

Owners also approved a proposal that gives 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 either on the extra point or on the kickoff.

In other voting on rules, the NFL tabled a proposal, originally put forth by the Kansas City Chiefs, to guarantee each team a possession in overtime. Owners will next take up the overtime topic at their May meeting.

The league also defeated a proposal from the Denver Broncos to give teams a one-time option in the fourth quarter to have a fourth-and-15 from their 35-yard line as an alternative to an onside kick.

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