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NFL to review interference calls and non-calls in 2019

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Los Angeles (AFP)

A controversial pass interference penalty that went uncalled in the NFL playoffs will not be repeated next season after club owners expanded video replay at league meetings that concluded Wednesday.

Two months after an embarrassing error that likely kept the New Orleans Saints out of the Super Bowl, NFL team owners voted 31-1 at Phoenix, Arizona, to approve video review for offensive and defensive pass interference calls and non-calls.

"We think it was a good change," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We're trying to address the two fouls that most impact games."

Los Angeles Rams defender Nickell Robey-Coleman struck New Orleans Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis well before the ball arrived on a key play in the final two minutes of January's National Conference final.

No penalty was called, forcing the Saints to kick a field goal but leaving the Rams enough time to equalize and later win.

Had the penalty been whistled, the Saints could have run the clock down to the final seconds for a field goal attempt from point-blank range that likely would have sent them to the Super Bowl instead of the Rams.

Under the change approved Tuesday for only the 2019 season, coaches can challenge under current video review rules and in the last two minutes of each half, NFL officials will call for reviews.

"This is what I wanted to happen," Saints owner Gayle Benson said. "It will never happen again."

NFL Network reported that the Cincinnati Bengals were the only team to vote against adding the pass interference replay reviews.

But the mandate was clear that owners wanted to make certain they didn't take another black eye.

"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.

"Our job is to get these right and we should use every available means to get them right. Replay is a great means to be able to do that.

"Will this solve every problem? Will this get us to perfect? It's the old saying, right? Don't let perfect get in the way of better. This is a very natural evolution and obviously a very positive thing."

NFL data has shown the majority of officiating errors on key plays are mainly from pass interference calls.

Defensive pass interference penalties accounted for 70 percent of fouls with the greatest impact on a chance to win from the 2016 through 2018 seasons.

In all, 24 of the 50 greatest mistaken calls were defensive pass interference with offensive pass interference the most often mistakenly uncalled penalty.

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