The NFL Competition Committee unanimously recommended today that the rule approved by clubs in March regarding instant replay of pass interference remain in effect for the 2019 season.

The committee recommended the following as final for 2019:

1. Playing Rule Proposal 6C, as approved in March at the NFL Annual Meeting, will remain in effect for the 2019 season, for one year only;

2. After the two-minute warning in each half, and during an overtime period, the Replay Official will stop the game to initiate a replay review for pass interference under stricter criteria/guidelines than is applicable for other reviewable play types. The rationale for the stricter criteria is to prevent excessive game clock stoppages for a foul that involves a greater degree of subjectivity than other reviewable plays. Accordingly, the Replay Official will stop the game when there is clear and obvious visual evidence that a pass interference foul may or may not have occurred, based on viewing the play live or any initial available line feed views.

Once in replay review, the standard of review will be consistent throughout the game for all reviewable plays, and the Replay Official will review any replays available during the review period. A decision on the field will only be reversed based on “clear and obvious visual evidence” that the ruling was incorrect; and

3. All passing plays will be subject to review for pass interference. The “Hail Mary” play will be reviewed in replay consistent with the on-field officiating guidelines. If the Replay Official does not see any action that constitutes clear and obvious visual evidence consistent with the stricter criteria/guidelines for reviewing pass interference, the Replay Official will not stop the game.

This spring, the NFL Officiating Department conducted its annual offseason club visits, hosted webinars with the 32 clubs, held its first of two officiating clinics to review and discuss the replay standard, as well as the replay process, for pass interference, and received additional club feedback.   

The following was communicated during the webinars:

  • Clear and Obvious Visual Evidence: A pass interference ruling (called or not called on the field) will be changed in replay only when there is clear and obvious visual evidence that the on-field ruling was incorrect. This standard (“clear and obvious visual evidence”) is consistently applied to all replay reviews.
  • Pass Interference Standard: By rule, pass interference requires an act that “significantly hinders” an opponent’s opportunity to make a play on the ball. In replay, to change the ruling on the field, there must be clear and obvious visual evidence that the contact “significantly hindered” or “did not significantly hinder” an opponent.
  • Broadcast Angles: Replay is wholly dependent on video angles shown by broadcast networks. They control not only which angles are shown, but they also control when they are shown, whether they are shown in full speed or slow motion, and the beginning and end of the action shown. Prior to a coach’s challenge, the replay official and individuals in the coaches’ both receive the same feed from the network. Additionally, the number of video angles will vary during each of the game windows due to the number of cameras used by the network.