clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Penalties, clock errors are non-reviewable plays for officials

There are eight situations that the NFL rulebook says cannot be reviewed with replay.

In each NFL game, coaches are given two chances to challenge a ruling they disagree with, and reviews are automatically initiated by a replay official after any scoring play or turnover. However, there are a few plays that cannot be reviewed by officials even if the initial ruling on the field was, in fact, incorrect.

The NFL rulebook lists eight different situations that cannot draw a replay review, and it includes penalties. A replay cannot be used to determine whether or not a penalty should or shouldn't have been assessed, with the exception only of 12 men on the field or an illegal forward pass that can be changed after a review.

Replays cannot be used to review the status of the game clock, play clock or the down of the play, although a rule change in 2015 allows the officials to check if time in a half expired incorrectly and add time on the clock, if necessary.

The other five situations that cannot be reviewed are as follows:

  1. Runner ruled down by defensive contact or out of bounds (not involving fumbles or the line to gain)
  2. The position of the ball not relating to first down or goal line
  3. Field-goal or Try attempts that cross above either upright without touching anything
  4. Erroneous Whistle
  5. Quarterback "spike" to kill clock

Many debates about whether a play is reviewable or not are determined by if a hypothetical situation would be created with the replay.

For example, if an official blows his whistle to say that a player stepped out of bounds when running down the sideline, a replay couldn't be used to determine that the player stayed in because the remainder of the play never occurred after it was ruled dead by the whistle. Alternatively, if a player runs down the sideline for a touchdown, a replay can be used to rule that he stepped out of bounds during the play.

If a coach twice challenges a play and replay overturns the original call on the field, that coach will be awarded a third opportunity to challenge.