We all remember the infamous pass interference non-call that New Orleans Saints fans will tell you cost them a trip the Super Bowl last season. And, frankly I think they're right. What followed was much debate on rule and instant replay adjustments to correct the problem from happening again. I mostly agree that steps needed to be taken make sure such an obviously blown call, in such a big spot (NFC Championship), doesn't happen again. But, oh, the unintended consequences are always sure to follow.

Anyway, as we approach the kickoff of the 2019 NFL regular season, here's what football fans show about what's changed:

Pass Interference: Now Challengeable

Effective in 2019, Pass Interference calls, and Pass Interference non-calls by both offensive and defensive players are now reviewable and can be challenged by coaches. The League says such plays can be overturned when there is 'clear and obvious visual evidence' that a call was wrong. In explaining the requirement to reverse such a play, the league says the determination will depend on whether a player 'significantly hindered' or 'did not significantly hinder' the opponent.

This new PI challenge was approved for a one-year trial period.

2-Point Conversion: Stil Reviewable, But Coaches Can No Longer Challenge

The Replay Official is now the only one who can initiate a review of a two-point conversion. This was previously something a coach could challenge.

Penalties That Negate Touchdowns - Now Can Be Reviewed

If a penalty wipes out a scoring play, the play will now be reviewed to determine if it was actually a score BEFORE the defense has to determine whether or not to accept the penalty.

Tennessee Titans v New York Giants
NFL Replay Review (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Other changes of note:

  • Offensive teams now have an option on enforcement of a penalty that occurred during a play that resulted in a touchdown. Starting in 2019, the team can elect to enforce the penalty on the kickoff, or to take the yardage enforcement on an extra-point attempt or two-point conversion
  • Players not in uniform cannot step onto the field in celebration of a play. If ANYONE other than a player in uniform enters the field to celebrate, it results in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and an automatic First Down. The brief I read from the NFL does not specifically mention coaches, but I assume that because they are not 'a player in uniform', you might see some exuberant coaches getting hit with a penalty
  • A 'Point of Emphasis' this season will be better monitoring of offensive holding, especially on running plays. In particular the League says referees will be looking for holding on the back side of run plays or at the line of scrimmage. Officials will be asked to look closer for 'material restrictions' of defenders - such as grabbing, twisting or jerking of an opponent, or blatantly pulling him to the ground.
  • Owners also voted to make permanent the kickoff changes that were implemented in 2018. It's a lot, and somewhat confusing, so click here for the details. The NFL says these adjustment resulted in a 35% year-over-year reduction in player concussions on kickoff plays.

For a closer look at all of the 2019 NFL rule changes, and a complete explanation of an ongoing 'Point of Emphasis', helmet contact, check this out from NFL.com.

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