Posted Thu Oct 21st by T-Money
BT contributor T-Money chimes in with his thoughts on the NFL’s pass interference penalty following Sunday’s loss.
It was 4th and six with 1:36 left in the 4th quarter, and the Denver Broncos were knocked out cold. Not by Mark Sanchez’s prayer to Santonio Holmes that ultimately hit the ground. By a ball of sand wrapped in a yellow jumpsuit. Broncos’ safety Renaldo Hill was called for pass interference because of his slight grab of New York Jets’ wide receiver Santonio Holmes’ facemask, and the Broncos never recovered.
Up to that point, the Broncos (2-4) were the better team. They did not look perfect by any means but they pushed the Jets (5-1) to their breaking point by holding the league’s best rushing attack to a season low 129 yards and handed Sanchez his first two interceptions of the season. If it weren’t for that 46 yard penalty on 4th down, the Broncos win that game.
Think about that. A penalty — not egregious, not intentional in nature, and lacking malice — cost the better team the game. If Hill’s hand grabs the collar of Holmes’ jersey, we’re probably talking about the 3-3 Broncos.
But as much as I wish I was wrong, the referee got the call right. The NFL Rulebook states:
It is pass interference by either team when any player movement beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders the progress of an eligible player of such player’s opportunity to catch the ball. Defensive pass interference rules apply from the time the ball is thrown until the ball is touched.
Having said that, I do not believe that this call should have been made and, more importantly, I strongly do not believe that it was worth the 46 yards that were awarded to the Jets.
Arguably the worst rule in the NFL is pass interference. Not only is it one of the most difficult calls to get right from a referee stand point, it also unfairly favors the offense. It is something that usually happens in the split of a second, is hardly ever justified and it is wrong at least 50% of the time. It can also be the difference between a win and a loss as we all witnessed last Sunday.
The question then becomes, is there a way to change the rule to make it effective but not overly decisive. As the rule stands now; defensive pass interference warrants an automatic first down from the spot of the foul. It doesn’t matter if it is 5 yards or 80 yards, it’s from the spot of the foul. I do agree that it is nice to have it go in your favor, but there is nothing more frustrating than watching an offense walk 50 yards down the field for free. It’s too much, it’s unreasonable, and it’s incredibly unfair to the defense.
So what if the pass interference was a 15 or 20 yard penalty and an automatic first down? Would you then be able to say that all penalties are justified? Probably not, but it would make a significantly more positive impact on the game. Not only would you take the game’s outcome out of the hands of the referee, but you also eliminate an offenses ability to play for a penalty instead of playing for the football. It would still give new life to a dying drive, but it would do it without cutting the legs completely out from under defenses. You cannot tell me that the call last Sunday didn’t take all the energy and the fight out of the Broncos.
Yes, it does take a lot away from the deep pass and it would eliminate most hopes of that last second game saving drive. It is part of the game and the way that it’s played, and yes, both teams play by the same rules. However, you must consider that every other rule in the rulebook has a definite number of yards tacked onto it.
I’ll also remind you that 15 yards and an automatic fist down is no light infraction. Just ask Ryan McBean about his facemask penalties in Jacksonville. Those two penalties were only worth 30 yards (16 less than Hill’s pass interference) and they proved to be more than enough to give the Jaguars the win.
No matter how you look at it, this rule is one that will be a hot topic for a long time. Changed or not, it will have a still huge impact on any game. Nevertheless, it needs to be looked at by the NFL in the future and adjusted to make it better suited for professional football.
What do you think Bronco Nation? Should the NFL change the pass interference rule? Is this rule hindering the Defense’s ability to make plays?