Its supporters and its detractors both took something from Thursday night’s Eagles-Packers game in Green Bay.
The system worked as intended in the first half, erasing an erroneous call that would have cost Philadelphia a touchdown. But the uncertainty over what will be called interference via replay — and what won’t — persisted with a disputed ruling on a failed second-half challenge by Green Bay Coach Matt LaFleur.
The first-half replay reversal overturned an offensive pass interference call made against Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. Quarterback Carson Wentz threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as Ertz was called for pass interference away from the play.
Mike Pereira, the former NFL officiating czar who is now a rules analyst for Fox, said on the broadcast that the call shouldn’t have been made, because the contact began within a yard of the line of scrimmage, where such contact is permitted. The call was overturned on review, and the Eagles were given the touchdown. They did not have to challenge the call because the play was automatically reviewed as a potential scoring play.
Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, spoke about the decision to overturn the call without offering details.
“After reviewing the play, it was determined that [Ertz] did not commit a foul for offensive pass interference,” Riveron said in a brief video posted by the NFL to social media. “Therefore the flag was picked up and Philadelphia scores a touchdown.”
The call certainly appeared to be correct.
“I don’t think that was a call that needed to be made,” Pereira said on the broadcast.
LaFleur lost a replay challenge on a pass interference non-call less than two minutes into the third quarter. LaFleur wanted defensive pass interference called on the Eagles’ Avonte Maddox on an incompletion to Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The non-call stood after replay review. Pereira and Fox analyst Troy Aikman said on the broadcast that they thought interference should have been called.
“I would have liked to see that overturned,” Pereira said.
Riveron said there “was no clear and obvious evidence that [Maddox] hindered the opponent.”
Other observers agreed with Pereira and Aikman and disagreed with Riveron, who oversees the replay reviews from the NFL’s headquarters in New York.
Dungy weighed in on Twitter: “That’s terrible. I don’t understand this replay review of Pass Interference. That one on Philadelphia couldn’t have been more clear cut. If they’re not going to reverse that one I don’t see how they can reverse any call.”
Former NFL referee Terry McAulay, now a rules analyst for NBC, wrote on Twitter: “I have absolutely no clue as to why defensive pass interference was not created by replay on that last play.”
LaFleur said during his postgame news conference: “I really don’t know what pass interference is any more. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Eagles Coach Doug Pederson also lost a replay challenge in the third quarter, seeking to have defensive pass interference called against the Packers. The non-call was allowed to stand.
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