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New pass interference rule finalized for 2019

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The legacy of the Nickell no-call lives on.

A referee picks up a flag in the first quarter during Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, Feb. 3, 2019.
A referee picks up a flag in the first quarter during Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, Feb. 3, 2019.
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There will be no smacking of the ass or putting boys on a motherfuckin Waffle House fryin pan in 2019.

Or at least if there is, it will go under review.

As a response to the infamous Nickell no-call from the NFC Championship last season where no flag was thrown as Los Angeles Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman clearly interfered with New Orleans Saints WR Tommylee Lewis, the NFL has finalized the language for the new rule to be implemented this year to prevent that specific transgression from happening again.

The new rule only affects play within the final two minutes of each half. If in that two-minute window the replay official deems a play contained “clear and obvious visual evidence” that pass interference occurred or didn’t in the case of it being called, the replay official and that official alone has the power to stop the game to review the play. The rule claims that a stoppage “will occur under stricter criteria than other reviewable plays,” though it doesn’t specify what that means. Hopefully, we’ll get that before we get to the preseason. The new rule allows for a reversal in the on-field decision only in the case of, using the same language, “clear and obvious visual evidence” though if that’s required for the replay itself, that’s a strange bar to set for overturning the call on the field.

As of right now, the NFL Operations website (which is actually a very, very good resource) still has content from the 2018 season regarding rules and pass interference specifically. I’d expect them to update it over the next month and a half at some point to reflect the changes for 2019.

But the rule is now finalized for application in 2019. I’m sure like new rules every year, we’ll see an emphasis on using it in the preseason to allow for referees to grow accustomed to it and find the appropriate range for applying the rule in real time.

Now we can have the appropriate outcome in Week 2 when the Rams host the Saints at the Coliseum.

And never forget the Slot God.