The NFL’s newest addition to the challenge system has been the inclusion of pass interference.
It was a controversial change, and in the first preseason game, the Bengals found themselves on the short end of the stick of pass interference challenges several times. It has been a different story so far against Washington.
The Bengals actually won a challenge that erased a highlight play from counting. Late in the fourth quarter, Washington launched a pass deep down the left side of the field. It looked like rookie cornerback Jordan Brown was in perfect position to pick off the underthrown pass, but an unreal effort by the wide receiver resulted in him taking the ball away.
Before fans could even start freaking out, Cincinnati threw a challenge flag. During the replays, you could see the receiver pull on the back of Brown’s jersey to get in an advantageous position to rip the ball away from Brown.
It was a play most fans wouldn’t have considered the refs even throw a flag on, but this new rule gave the refs the benefit if going back and checking for a sneaky maneuver like the jersey pull.
The play was deemed offensive pass interference, and the penalty was assessed. It eventually derailed that drive for Washington.
This provides an example of how this rule could help defenders more than anything. That play wouldn’t see a flag for offensive pass interference 99 out of 100 times, but giving teams the ability to have refs look at it closer in slow motion changes all of that.
If this rule ends up sticking around for the long term, we could see wide receivers having to adjust by not trying to get away with the little shoves and pulls that boundary refs don’t have the vantage point to see.
I doubt that is something the creators of the rules intended, but Zac Taylor and the Bengals seem to be on the look out for that sort of thing to throw the red flag on.