NFL officials are reportedly considering a major change to one of the most controversial rules in football. According to Judy Battista of NFL Media, the owners may vote to implement replay review for roughing the passer calls.
The league has faced mass criticism in recent years for the way it officiates roughing the passer calls. This past season, there was no shortage of questionable decisions made in favor of the quarterback.
The most notable of these mistakes was a game-costing officiating blunder in a late-season matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. On a fourth-and-goal opportunity for the Vikings, Lions defender Tracy Walker rushed on a corner blitz to get what looked like a textbook sack on Kirk Cousins. Some how, the referees deemed the hit roughing the passer. With a fresh set of downs, Minnesota went on to score what ended up being the game-sealing touchdown.
The refs know Kirk Cousins didn’t throw the ball, right? How is this roughing the passer on the Lions? pic.twitter.com/cAhtR9KOUw
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 3, 2021
The biggest qualm with the rule right now is the bodyweight stipulation. After Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr broke Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone by driving him into the turf a sack, the NFL amended the rule to make landing on the QB illegal. If there isn’t a concerted effort to roll off the tackle immediately, the call is usually made.
The nuanced rules of roughing the passer will make meticulous replay reviews even more difficult to determine.
After an abundance of botched pass interference calls in 2019, the league voted to implement a similar replay system for reviewing PI. With officials almost never overturning challenged calls, this review system turned out to be a complete flop — so much so that it won’t be a part of the game in 2021.
If replay review for roughing the passer is voted in, it’s fair to assume the outcome will be similar.
According to NFL.com, the league will also consider reverting back to sudden-death overtime rules and offering an alternate onside kick option.