PHOENIX – NFL owners on Tuesday voted to approve a rule proposal that allows for offensive and defensive pass interference penalties to be subject to replay reviews, even on plays where no flag is thrown.
Coaches will be able to challenge those calls in the first 28 minutes of each half, with those calls subject to a booth review in the final two minutes of each half.
NFL owners reportedly passed the proposal 31-1 at the annual league meeting in Phoenix. The rule change will be in effect solely for the 2019 season.
"We had a good discussion," said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey, "a lot of sharing of viewpoints, and we've come up with something that we think enhances the instant reply system and addresses the situation that arose in the NFC Championship Game with the Saints and the Rams."
The rule proposal was made after a blatant pass interference penalty against Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman was not called late in the NFC title game in New Orleans. Had a flag been thrown, the Saints likely could have run out the clock and kicked a short game-winning field goal. But instead they ultimately lost in overtime, costing them a trip to the Super Bowl.
McCaskey told reporters that he was initially against allowing penalties to be called after a replay review on a play where no flag was thrown. But he changed his mind after speaking with Bears president/CEO Ted Phillips, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy.
"I was against that coming down here," McCaskey said. "But I talked to some people that I respect and Matt and Ryan and Ted made some persuasive arguments. It was a good discussion in the room. There were a lot of evolutions of the rules proposal, good comments by the coaches, and hopefully we got something that improves our great game."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during a press conference that the new rule was not adopted solely to appease the Saints.
"I personally believe it was the fact that every club wanted to get, and the league wanted to get these plays right," Goodell said. "Replay is to get it right. And ultimately people compromised, I think, on long-held views because they want to get the system right. They want to get the play right."
In other news, NFL owners also voted to expand automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a penalty, as well as all extra-point and two-point conversion attempts.
The owners rejected a proposal to provide an alternative to the onside kick that would have allowed the trailing team a chance to maintain possession of the ball after scoring. The proposed new rule would have given the team an opportunity to convert a fourth-and-15 from its own 35 rather than attempt an onside kick.