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NFL implements new rules changes that could have sent Steelers to playoffs in 2018

A change to the rules that will make offensive and defensive pass interference plays reviewable in 2019 might have come a year too late for the Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

While Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II may have gone to the annual NFL owners meeting reluctant to support changes to the instant replays rules, it would appear that he switched sides upon hearing the final proposal. The NFL announced a 31-1 vote in favor of amending the types of plays subject to review in 2019 on Tuesday, with the Cincinnati Bengals the only team to vote against the motion.

In this amendment, the NFL will now allow all offensive and defensive pass interference calls, and non-calls, to be subject to a coaches challenge. A decision that will be seen by many as a response to the blatant non-call of a pass interference penalty in the closing moments of the NFL Championship Game that undeniably cost the New Orleans Saints a place in the Super Bowl. But for the Steelers, it is a rule that could possibly have meant a playoff place in 2018 if a few bad calls had been corrected.

A fact not lost on the beneficiary of that incorrectly called play in New Orleans.

This broader scope of reviewable plays will be done on a trial basis in 2019, but will need to voted on again in 2020 if it is to become permanent. And while there are plenty of fans and members of the media who appear to welcome this change, there seems to be just as many who are unhappy about it, with complaints about how it will lengthen the game one of the primary concerns. Some even valuing their entertainment over the integrity of the sport.

But as attention grabbing as this rules change is, it is worth noting that it was not the only one implemented at the owners meeting. As per Teresa Varley of, there will actually be several new changes for fans to get used to this season.

Playing Rule Proposals that Passed:

1. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the kickoff rule changes that were implemented during the 2018 season.

2. By Competition Committee; Expands protection to a defenseless player.

3. By Competition Committee; Changes the enforcement of double fouls when there is a change of possession.

4. By Competition Committee; Simplifies the application of scrimmage kick rules for missed field goals.

5. By Competition Committee; Allows teams to elect to enforce on the succeeding try or on the succeeding free kick an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.

6c. Attached - For one year only, expands the reviewable plays in Instant Replay to include pass interference, called or not called on the field. Also expands automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any Try attempt (extra point or two-point conversion).

16. By Competition Committee; to amend Rule 15, Section 1, Article 5 to allow League personnel to disqualify for both flagrant football and non-football acts.

Approved 2019 Bylaws Summary:

By Buffalo; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.4 to liberalize the rule for reacquisition of a player assigned via waivers.

By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.1 to provide clubs with more roster flexibility during training camp.

By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to provide teams more effective access to players during the postseason.

By Competition Committee; to amend Article XIV, Section 14.3(B)(8) to make the tie-breaking procedures fairer for the selection meeting.

By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVII, Section 17.1 to provide additional roster spots during the preseason.

By Competition Committee; to amend Article XVII, Section 12.3 to offer more roster flexibility.

Approved 2019 Resolutions Summary

G-1. By Competition Committee; to amend the Anti-Tampering Policy to permit an interested club to contact a Vested Veteran before clubs have been notified of the player’s termination via the Player Personnel Notice if (i) the players is not subject to the Waivers System and, (ii) the employer club has publicly announced the player’s release.

G-2a. By Competition Committee; for one year only, Clubs will receive the League’s post-game responses to officiating inquiries submitted by any club.

With the expansion of the rules prohibiting blindside blocks potentially having a more significant impact on the game if players cannot adapt to the new rule change quickly enough.

Those who miss the old rules that governed kickoffs will be disappointed to learn that the rules that killed kick return games around the league in 2018 are now here to stay.

For fans hoping for changes to overtime rules or those who supported the addition of a sky judge as trialed by the Alliance of American Football, the amendments announced by the NFL will not have gone far enough. But given the pace that the league normally moves at when addressing their obvious issues, the changes made on Tuesday should be considered something of a win.