The NFL reviewed 17 instances of potential pass interference and reversed two on-field rulings during the first week of the preseason, the first data point in what will be a summer-long process of understanding how the league’s expansion of replay will be implemented.
As a result, there were a total of 44 reviews of all types in the first 17 preseason games, a high but unsurprising average of 2.59 per game. Since its inception in 1999, NFL replay has reviewed an average of 1.32 calls per game.
A spike in 2019 preseason reviews was expected after many coaches said they would use the otherwise meaningless games to test the contours of the new system. Fifteen of the 17 reviews for pass interference were initiated by coaches challenges, and the other two by the replay booth, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking. Teams lose a timeout if the original call is upheld after review.
NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron reversed only two of the calls, spurring hope that he will limit changes to only the most clear and obvious mistakes. Establishing that high standard in the preseason would help limit game stoppages during regular season games.
Riveron’s first reversal came Aug. 1 when New York Jets coach Adam Gase challenged a no-call on an incomplete pass to receiver Tim White. Replay showed New York Giants cornerback Corey Ballentine had pinned White’s arm with the ball in the air, and after review, Riveron imposed a 33-yard penalty on Ballentine.
The second reversal came after replay official Darryl Lewis initiated a review on the first play after the two-minute warning in the second half of Saturday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs. Riveron reversed an interception for Bengals safety Brandon Wilson, instead penalizing Bengals defensive back Tony Lippett 30 yards for defensive pass interference.