Troy Vincent: NFL pass interference replay rule 'failed miserably'
Though the missed pass interference call in the 2018 NFC Championship Game was one of the most egregious officiating gaffes in NFL history, NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent admits that the league overreacted when it instituted a rule allowing coaches to challenge pass interference in 2019.
That rule, a lingering topic of confusion and controversy last season, has since been scrapped. Speaking with NBC’s Peter King, Vincent characterized the one-and-done pass-interference replay rule as a failure.
Vincent said the NFL didn’t do “proper due diligence” before instituting the rule, which, as King wrote, “was not even put up for a vote to continue for a second year.”
“Those outcomes were not good for professional football,” Vincent told King. “Because we didn’t do the proper due diligence, it played out publicly. The last thing people should be talking about is the way the game is officiated. They [officials] should be faceless objects, managing and facilitating game flow.
“We failed. I’m first in line. I shared that [with league officials]. I failed, as the leader of that department. I failed. We cannot allow that to happen again. What did we learn from that? We’ve got to do our due diligence. You can’t rush and just shove something in there without knowing all the consequences. And we found that out last year, live and in action, publicly. We didn’t do [our due diligence] last year, and we failed, and we failed miserably.”
As you know by now, the rule was put in place because of a missed call that likely cost the New Orleans Saints a spot in the Super Bowl. With the score tied 20-20, the Saints were driving deep in Los Angeles Rams territory with under two minutes to play in the NFC title game when Drew Brees looked to TommyLee Lewis on third down. Lewis was drilled by Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman before the ball got to him — an obvious case of pass interference. Inexplicably, a flag was not thrown.
The flag would have given the Saints an automatic first down and, more importantly, the ability to start whittling down the clock. Instead, the Saints kicked a field goal and went ahead 23-20 with 1:41 to go. That left plenty of time for the Rams to force overtime and later win.
The Saints (understandably) complained loudly in the aftermath, so much so that the NFL put the pass interference replay rule in place for the following season. It ended up being a disaster and often a source of confusion and outrage with some blatant pass interference non-calls getting upheld even after a challenge flag was thrown.
‘Sky judge’ could be added to officiating crews
While that rule will now be a thing of the past, it looks like an extra set of eyes will be added to oversee games beginning next season.
The NFL competition committee is mulling the addition of a full-time “sky judge” to every officiating crew. The sky judge, per King, would be able to “call down and alert the referee if the officials on the field missed an obvious call, or called one obviously wrong.”
A vote for the sky judge rule proposal is set for Thursday.
Also on the docket is a radical change to the onside kick rule that would instead allow teams to retain possession if they convert a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25.
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