NFL Votes to Include Pass Interefence in Replay Rules After Controversial Decision Affected Playoff Game

Posted on: March 27, 2019, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: March 27, 2019, 12:11h.

The National Football League (NFL) on Tuesday evening approved a rule change that expands instant replay to include whether either team committed pass interference on a play.

NFL officials declined to call defensive pass interference against the Los Angeles Rams on this play in January’s NFC Championship. On Tuesday, the league voted to expand replay to include pass interference reviews.  (Image:

The decision comes more than two months after a controversial no-call late in the NFC Championship. That helped the Los Angeles Rams beat the New Orleans Saints and earn a trip to the Super Bowl.

By a 31-1 vote, the teams decided to expand replay for the upcoming season only.

Previously, the league did not allow for reviews on such plays because they considered them judgment calls. However, the blown call in a nationally televised game led coaches, teams, and league officials to reconsider that stance.

“I personally believe it was the fact that every club wanted to get, and the league wanted to get these plays right,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters at a press conference after the vote. “Replay is to get it right. And ultimately people compromised, I think, on long-held views because they want to get the system right. They want to get the play right.”

No Call Costly for Some Bettors

Prior to the Jan. 20 game, Fox Sports commentators Clay Travis and Sal Iacono paid nearly $60,000 on for an $8,000 bet on the Saints winning the Super Bowl.

With 20-1 odds, had the Saints beaten the Rams, Travis and Iacono would have been a win away from claiming $168,000.

On his Wednesday morning radio show, Travis complemented the league for working to improve the quality of the game.

I don’t think this will substantially alter the length of games or anything of that magnitude,” he said. “I think it’s just going to go towards making sure that the team that wins on the field is the team that is reflected as the winner on the scoreboard.”

Not all Saints bettors walked away empty handed. PointsBet, a New Jersey sportsbook, decided to give Saints bettors a full refund in light of the controversial ending.

Ron Shell, PointsBet’s vice president of customer and insights, declined to reveal how much the book refunded. However, he told that the company returned bets ranging from $1 to thousands.

“The beauty of PointsBet’s ‘Karma Kommittee’ is that you don’t have to wait two months for a ‘wrong’ to be righted,” he added. “Justice will usually be served within half an hour or at worst at the next 7 am Karma Kommittee meeting. Whether it is anything from an egregious refereeing decision to an unlucky injury to a star player, anything that we consider an injustice to our loyal bettors will be looked at closely.”

No Additional Challenges

Coaches will still receive just two challenges per game. They can get a third if both of those lead to overturned calls. Challenges can take place on any call made – or, in some cases when no call is made – up until the final two minutes of each half.

The replay official will still determine if a play warrants a review after the two-minute warning. Under the rule passed Tuesday, the replay official likely would have called for a review in the NFC Championship.

With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, and the score tied at 20, the Saints were driving for a go-ahead touchdown. On a third-down play at the Rams 13 yard line, Drew Brees threw the ball to Tommylee Lewis. The pass went incomplete as Nickell Robey-Coleman collided with the Saints receiver well before the ball got there.

While the Saints might not have scored, they could have earned a new set of downs with a penalty. That would have allowed them to milk more time off the clock. Instead, they needed to settle a field goal with 1:41 left. That gave Los Angeles enough time to drive for a tying score.

The Rams eventually won the game in overtime.