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NFL mulling the possibility of making pass interference a 15-yard penalty

Currently, defensive pass interference awards the offense the ball at the spot of the foul and an automatic first down. That increases the likelihood of teams simply throwing deep and trying to draw the penalty.

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When it comes to drawing pass interference penalties, Baltimore's Joe Flacco is elite.

Since Flacco came into the league in 2008, his passes have led to 78 accepted defensive pass interference penalties, by far the most in the league (Eli Manning is second with 65). That's a flag for pass interference on one of every 57 throws, including the playoffs.

The concept is celebrated in Baltimore.


Perhaps it should be. The Ravens scored 56 points from drives that had a defensive pass interference penalty accepted. That's an extra field goal a game.

Of the 15 successful Heave 'n Prays attempted by Flacco this season, drives on which the flag flew resulted in a punt just one time.

That may be hindered a bit in the future.

The NFL is reportedly discussing making defensive pass interference a 15-yard penalty, not giving the offense the ball at the spot of the foul. An automatic first down comes with it, but it won't likely change the patterned philosophy of chucking it short to a deep receiver and making him come back to the ball.

It's a 15-yard penalty from the previous spot in college.

It's one of multiple options regarding the use of instant replay as well as the issue of pass interference that was presented to the league's competition committee, on which sits Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

Ravens pending free agent Torrey Smith was on the receiving end of a whopping 12 of those 15 accepted interference penalties. Perhaps not coincidentally, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Tuesday, "I think we're going to have to take it on the chin and move on," in regards to Smith's contract situation.

One might interpret that as a negotiation tactic, sending a message to the league's most prolific receiver in terms of drawing pass interference (Smith had 767 receiving yards on 49 catches, and his 12 pass interference penalties drawn resulted in 261 additional yards). Perhaps it speaks to the league discussing changing the current rules, to diminish the hugely slanted penalty a little bit.

Certainly, Baltimore can find another fairly one-dimensional receiver to be on the receiving end of the 10-plus pass interference penalties Flacco has drawn per year over his career. But the rule itself changing may cause aggressive downfield passing teams like the Ravens to re-think their strategy.

Or at the least, it may simply give them less of a reward for doing it.