You know the story by now.
The Saints got royally screwed by a blatantly missed pass interference call in the NFC Championship. It gave the Rams new life and the Saints wound up missing out on a trip to the Super Bowl. They were irate, complained a lot, and the NFL changed its rules in the offseason to make pass interference a reviewable play.
A week into the 2019 season, the new rule hasn’t played much of a role yet. Only a few potential interference calls were challenged in the opening weekend of the year, and none were anywhere near as consequential as the Rams-Saints moment.
With the rematch between the Saints and Rams set to happen in Week 2, two SB Nation writers — Charles McDonald and Adam Stites — had a quick chat about the rule change:
How necessary is the ability to challenge pass interference penalties?
Adam: Pass interference can be a really huge chunk of yardage, so I get why the league felt it was necessary to get it right. I guess the reason I question the necessity is because so many other types of blown calls have cost teams games too.
I mean ... the Saints just got robbed of 15 seconds, and potentially some points, in Week 1 because of a screwup that had nothing to do with pass interference. Had it not been for some last-minute heroics, New Orleans would’ve lost that game.
There are blown false starts, inadvertent whistles, and all kinds of other officiating whiffs. Hell, the horrible catch rule was controversially tilting games for years. Is pass interference really changing games any more than other calls?
Charles: I’m with you. I don’t like it and more time stoppages kind of stinks, but I definitely understand why the league felt like it had to put it in. It’s a bit of a necessary evil. We’ve seen it a few times so far — Mike Zimmer, Matt LaFleur, Ron Rivera have all lost challenges, while Bruce Arians won a challenge against the 49ers.
I think the fact that, so far, the majority of these calls haven’t been overturned shows that it’s going to be hard to get a call in your favor. The replay is there to fix those egregious mistakes like between the Saints and the Rams.
At the end of the day, being right is what matters. Hopefully these don’t bog down the pace of the games as the season progresses.
Do we think this rule will pave the way for other penalties to be challenged?
Charles: Man, I really hope not. Just imagine being able to challenge whether or not a guy was held on a certain play.
Adam: Right, that’s really my biggest concern. If you rewatch a play in slow motion, you can always find a holding or illegal contact somewhere on the field. The Jets lost a touchdown in Week 1, because — after watching slow motion — officials saw Quincy Enunwa was blocking a defensive back while the pass was in the air, which is offensive pass interference. In real time, it looked like an easy touchdown.
Are we going to legislate replay reviews into the game for roughing the passer when a team loses an important game because of it? Or a facemask? Or offsides?
It sure feels like we opened Pandora’s box a bit here.
Charles: Personally, I look forward to the Falcons losing the Super Bowl on a challenged offensive pass interference on Julio Jones.
Are we making a mountain out of a molehill here?
Adam: Yeah, probably.
While the 2019 NFL season has only just started, the rule change really hasn’t mattered much. Pass interference was challenged a ton in preseason, but just a handful of times in Week 1. I still think it’s a slippery slope — it’s probably just not worth hand-wringing about the rule as is.
Charles: It probably won’t end up affecting the landscape of the league that much — and like I said earlier, getting the calls right is what matters most. It just SUCKS sitting through more penalties, more reviews, and more referees in the moment.
But let’s be real, it’ll never stop us for watching football or even cutting down on our football consumption a little bit.