Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) tries to stay up as Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) wraps him up during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Pass Interference is a Bigger Problem Now in the NFL

In the Baltimore Ravens-Houston Texans game this past Sunday, there was a controversial play between DeAndre Hopkins and Marlon Humphrey. Hopkins went up to make a catch and Humphrey threw his body over top of Hopkins before the ball got there.

No pass interference call.

Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien threw the challenge flag to attempt to get a PI call on the play. For whoever didn’t see it, take a look. Judge for yourself.

It wasn’t overturned, no pass interference.

While this might be the most blatant example of a pass interference call that was missed and then not overturned, it is far from the first time this has happened. Now that coaches can challenge pass interference, that ability has been utilized. However, it isn’t having the effect on the game that coaches, players and fans want.

Since week three of the NFL season, only 4.9 percent (2 out of 41) of pass interference plays have been overturned. The rate has decreased even more since week four with only one PI call be overturned in 33 attempts. That includes plays that were and weren’t called PI on both the offense and defense.

Coaches’ Perspective

Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said it’s going to take a lot for officials to change PI calls in games.

However, Fangio acknowledges that the rule change was purely reactionary from last year’s NFC championship game (see below).


The rule change has proven to be wildly ineffective. Outside of the missed call in the Ravens-Texans game, there have been numerous others. Here’s one in the Arizona Cardinals-San Francisco 49ers game.

This penalty was called on Arizona. Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker, the defender on the play, was in legal guarding position. If anything, 49ers full back Kyle Juszczyk, the receiver, should have been called for offensive PI.

On the bright side, there was one PI challenge that was successfully overturned by the New York Jets against the Washington Redskins.

It hasn’t been a good look for the NFL and its officiating crew so far this season. It’s only year one of the rule though. Maybe, just maybe, if it’s given a season or two to marinate then officials will be able to adapt to the rule and it can be more widely enforced and officiated properly.

But, for now, it’s been ugly for the NFL.

About Michael Knauff

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