Being a referee is a thankless job. Nobody appreciates when you do a great job, but everybody will blame you when their favorite team loses, even if you made the correct call. It’s even worse when you make a mistake. For gosh sake, there are 22 players on a football field for every play, but only 4 officials. They can’t see everything.
However! NFL fans have the right to ask for consistency on plays that are the center of attention. That’s what makes the struggles enforcing pass interference so much more frustrating. By definition, the ball needs to be headed to the receiver that gets interfered with and therefore should be the center of the referees attention. An NFL ref should be able to see all egregious pass interference calls.
Sometimes they don’t though. And that’s part of the human error involved with having human’s officiate games. The NFL added a video review challenge to help ease the errors, which is what makes Sunday’s so much more frustrating. There may not be a more obvious example of the pass interference review system failing than in Sunday’s Ravens and Texans game.
Flag was not thrown for Defensive Pass Interference
Challenge was thrown by Bill O’Brien and Refs said it Stands
Absolute joke of a league pic.twitter.com/VJiXIWe7N7
— Abdul Memon (@abdulamemon) November 17, 2019
Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey was in tight coverage of Texans WR Deandre Hopkins. With the ball headed Hopkins way, Humphrey grabs and rotates the receiver’s body before grabbing his arm. It was clear and obvious pass interference in everybody’s eyes but the official, who missed the call. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien challenged the play. Replay let the call stand despite many views showing the interference. Once again, the league officials refused to correct a judgement call. Luckily, this play didn’t decide the game as the Ravens ran away with it from the second quarter on, winning 41-7.
Arguably though, that was not the worst pass interference call of the day. In a tight game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers, linebacker Joe Walker was flagged for pass interference on fullback Kyle Juszczyk. The only problem? Juszczyk tackled Walker in the open field.
— dylan stradley (@dylan_stradley) November 17, 2019
If anything, this is offensive pass interference on Juszczyk. Walker is not initiating contact, he gets his head around, and Juszczyk absolutely drags him down before the ball arrives. Walker did everything a defensive player was supposed to do when breaking up (or likely intercepting) a pass. It is almost comical how poorly called this play was, but Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury has seen enough to know the officials in New York would never overturn the call. Karma got back to the Niners, as Jimmy G tossed an actual interception shortly after.
Replaying judgement calls was a disastrous idea from the start, but missing a call, reviewing it, and still missing the call is even worse. From Week 4 on, coaches are 32-33 (3%) on pass interference challenges. The refusal to overturn blown calls is deciding games and only exacerbating existing problems. Either enforce the rule, or overturn it. It’s not that hard. I suppose there is only one thing left to say.