Pass interference now reviewable by officials

PHOENIX (AP) — Pass interference, whether flagged or not, can be challenged by coaches and reviewed by officials next season.

NFL team owners voted Tuesday on a one-year trial basis to include those often-controversial penalties in the officiating replay review system. Coaches still will have two challenges per game, and in the final two minutes of a half or fourth quarter or for all of overtime, the replay official can order a review of offensive or defensive pass interference.

The major change — owners traditionally have been highly reluctant to include any penalties in the replay process — stems from an egregious missed call in the NFC championship game that likely led to the Rams making the Super Bowl and the Saints falling short.

Earlier in the day, the NFL owners voted down a proposal to replace the onside kick with one play from scrimmage, and tabled a suggestion to require each team to have one possession in overtime regardless of what happened on the first series of the extra period.

While the owners mulled enhancing the use of video replay in officiating, they vetoed the idea of a one-year trial of a fourth-and-15 play from the offense’s 35-yard line to replace the onside kick, considered one of the game’s more dangerous plays. The powerful competition committee recommended the play by a vote of 7-1, but the owners were not swayed.

The overtime change is championed by several clubs after the AFC championship game in January — and the 2017 Super Bowl — ended with a Patriots touchdown without the opponent getting the ball. New England won the coin toss both times.

Currently, the format is a touchdown on the opening possession of OT ends the game, but a field goal allows the other team a series with the ball. If that team also kicks a field goal, the game continues.

Owners will next take up the overtime topic at their May meeting.

Approved on Tuesday, with the owners still meeting:

— Making permanent all kickoff rules implemented only for the 2018 season. Studies showed this player safety initiative worked.

— Eliminating the blindside block in an effort to expand protection of a defenseless player. It is now a 15-yard penalty if a player initiates a block in which he is moving.

— Allowing teams to elect to enforce on an extra point kick or play an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.

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