The use of instant replays to aid in officiating, being tried experimentally by the NFL this preseason, did not produce instant decisions Saturday at the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.
When Miami Coach Don Shula challenged a pass interference call against rookie coarnerback Gerald Small on a reception by wide receiver Ken Payne of the Philadelphia Eagles, it took NFL officials 1 minute 53 seconds - and two more plays - to decide the game officals were right.
The league is conducting dry runs of such a system only, and officials decisions will not be changed. Coaches are not told whether their challenges are upheld. The system will not be used during the 1978 regular season.
The NFL officials in the booth had a cassette on which they had recorded the play from the telecast the fans saw on the national ABC hookup. Also available to the NFL was one of the network's four isolation cameras.
The NFL officials still would have wanted to see more angles, if it had been feasible, the pictures being so inconclusive.
There were nine NFL representatives in the booth, using three stop watches.
Philadelphia Coach Dick Vermeil challenged a pass reception by halfback Gary Davis of the Dolphins, contending that linebacker James Reed of the Eagles stripped him of the ball before the play-ending whistle.
It was disclosed later that the officials in the booth once more approved the decision by the officials on the field, but would have preferred more conclusive evidence on the replays, because it could have meant change of possession of the ball.
Two lesser challenges also went in favor of the officials on the field.
If the instant replay assistance to the field officials was enacted, the game would be stopped while the challenges were judged.
In addition to the 1:53 seconds used on the interference play, it was estimated it would have taken another 10 seconds to relay the decision to the coaches and field officials.