By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — NFL owners instituted a review system for pass interference calls and non-calls this year, and they did it on a trial basis.
Not even six full weeks into the season, they might as well scrap the system entirely. It’s useless.
This is not new news — it’s been covered — but Thursday night’s game between the Giants and Patriots showed once again that the system in place for reviewing pass interference exists in name only. In reality, even when a clear case of pass interference is committed, Al Riveron is simply not going to enforce it after the fact.
Whatever that reason may be is anybody’s guess. Obviously, the Saints-Rams fiasco last year made the NFL feel obliged to implement some sort of fail-safe in the event that an on-field officiating crew completely botches a very obvious call again. Seemingly, though, short of dropkicking a player in the open field, a penalty is not going to be applied after a challenge is initiated by a head coach.
The latest example shows this to be undeniably true. In the fourth quarter, with just under three minutes to go, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones threw to Golden Tate over the middle. Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones was in coverage, and he used his right hand to grab Tate’s chest and spin the receiver. Tate then made a leaping attempt to catch the pass, but he could not use his right arm, as Jones had it stapled to Tate’s own midsection.
The ball bounced off Tate’s shoulder pads and hit the turf. No yellow flags followed.
Because of the clear and obvious infraction, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur threw his red challenge flag.
The entire review process took less than a minute. It took all of 50 seconds for Riveron to inform referee Brad Allen that in fact, no penalty had been committed.
This particular instance took place when the Giants trailed 35-14 with under three minutes left in the fourth quarter. In that sense, it did not matter. But the functionality — or lack thereof — of this pass interference review system does matter, and eventually something like this is bound to happen in a much more important game, during a much more critical moment. And if the system continues to fail to accomplish its intended goal, then the NFL might have just created a bigger mess for itself than it had in the first place.