ESPN’s PTI Gets Pass Interference Wrong

PTIYesterday, the Carolina Panthers coach of the year, Ron Rivera, suggested that the NFL competition committee should consider making a pass interference call reviewable by the referees.

On the 2/7/14 edition of the ESPN debate show, Pardon The Interruption, both hosts, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, agreed that this would slow the game down too much, take too much time, and should remain a judgment call that is not reviewable.

Their argument is flawed because Rivera does not suggest that coaches receive more challenges.  Currently a coach gets two challenges per game,  and a third if they are right on the first two.  Losing a timeout if they are wrong.   What difference does it make how they use them?  The time it takes for challenges is already factored into the game by the NFL and the fans.

If the league instituted it, or allowed it on end zone plays as an additional challenge, that could conceivably slow the game town slightly.

However, those are pretty big game turning and often-debatable plays that fans would accept the delay.   After all, what do fans complain about more: the use of replay to overturn bad calls?  Or the non-use of replay that let bad calls stand?

I have been advocating for review long before it was instituted and believe any play should be fair game for a challenge.  “If upon further review the evidence to overturn is clear and indisputable”, what difference does it make if it is a judgment call or not?

There are pass interference plays that are clearly terrible calls that should be overturned.  Plays where the receiver isn’t even touched! And the point of the system is to overturn these kinds of calls.

By yardage, pass interference is potentially the most costly call in the game.  And on more than one occasion the PTI guys have ripped the referees for making or not making this call.

Speaking of non-calls, not only should pass interference be reviewed, but a non pass interference call should be reviewable as well.  After all we’ve seen as many of these calls blown as the other way around.

Technology makes reversals so clear now that it becomes unfair to selectively review certain kinds of plays and not others.

For example, let’s say the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Dallas is on Pittsburgh’s ten-yard line and Tony Romo throws an interception that is run back for a pick six by Troy Polamalu.  But upon further review, Polamalu steps out-of-bounds on his own 38yard line.  Ultimately Pittsburgh punts and Dallas is correctly saved seven points.  Now, later in the same game, say a Dallas defensive back commits pass interference in the end zone, and it is not called.  This costs Pittsburgh seven points.

They say bad calls even out but if you allow for replay on some plays and not for others it makes it harder to do that!  By taking seven points from Pittsburgh by overturning one call, and not giving them seven by overturning another, the replay system becomes the cause of unfairness rather than the solution.  Because is this scenario, replay prevented the bad calls from evening out.

The system would still not be perfect.  Of course there would still be mistakes, but this moves the game in the right direction.  At least it should be tried experimentally.

In a playoff game this season a fumble recovered by San Francisco against Seattle was not reviewable for a reason that boggles the mind.  It was controversial and you can bet this type of play will be reviewable in the future.  Let’s not wait until an egregious, clearly overturn-able, pass interference call is made in the playoffs before we make it reviewable.

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