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NFL Rule Still Unfair

Mill Woods

Posted on September 13, 2019 11:36

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The NFL was hoping to solve a nagging problem by creating a new rule allowing a coach's challenge of a non-call. But a non-call late in the Panthers-Bucs Thursday night game reveals that the rule is still weak.

Late in Thursday's game, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera challenged a non-call on a play where a receiver was impeded on a deep pass.

A Panthers WR ran a stop-and-go route.  A Bucs cornerback hit the receiver as he turned to go deep, so the ball looked incredibly long.  But that was only because the receiver was almost forced out of bounds by the hit.  No penalty flag was dropped.  This foul is usually called "pass interference" — if the ball was in the air at the time of the foul.  If not, the penalty call is "illegal contact".  After review, the referees upheld the non-call.

There is more than one problem with this result.  First of all, an illegal contact call would have been inadequate, because that only carries a five-yard penalty and a first down.  Without the hit, the receiver might have tallied a long pass reception, possibly a touchdown.  

But this "illegal contact" rule has been around for a long time, so complaining about it is of dubious value.  No distinction was ever made between a run-of-the-mill illegal contact (for example, involving a short pass in the middle of the defense) and an illegal contact that prevents a receiver from catching a bomb for a TD.  This is why so many defenders (and their coaches) are ok fouling receivers, rather than risking that the receiver will score.  In effect, folks, the weakness of this rule actually encourages fouls!

Now, it must be stated: in that Thursday night Panthers game, a mere five-yard penalty might not have changed the outcome.  The Bucs ended up stopping the Panthers at the goal line, so one might say "they earned this win".  But that fact is irrelevant to the goal of having accurate officiating.  

Secondly, it is ridiculous that the referees dropped no flag at all.  This is yet another example of the NFL's allowing more contact on receivers.  Only about 20 years ago, penalty flags would have been dropped every time there was contact.  

I have stated before that the rules — overall — are now more favorable to offenses.  I stand by that statement.  But allowing defenders to mug receivers is not the best way to level the playing field.  The main thing that has given offenses the advantage in recent years is the lack of holding calls.  Some say there would be a holding call on every play.  I say, yes, there would be — at first.  Then, linemen and coaches would change their behavior.  

And so, the refereeing controversy continues.  

The NFL should, at the very least, question why illegal contact is "not reviewable", even in cases when a team drops the red flag and asks for a review.  And don't tell me about "disruption" of the game; it's not like a coach can do this on every play.  Most coaches are saving challenges for important plays near the end of the game, and that's as it should be.

 

Mill Woods

Posted on September 13, 2019 11:36

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Source: ESPN

NFL should follow CFL's lead and review pass interference

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