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NFL concerned about having too many challenges on pass interference

The Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass

The Rams' Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for the Saints' Tommylee Lewis during the second half of the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans on Jan. 20. Credit: AP/Gerald Herbert

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – NFL owners are expected to give the competition committee the clearance to modify the newly enacted rule that includes pass interference calls and non-calls as part of the instant replay system.

Under the rule adopted at the owners’ March meetings in Arizona, coaches can use one of their replay challenges, while all questionable interference or non-interference calls in the final two minutes would be subject to automatic booth reviews. After discussions about the new rule with several coaches, there was concern that there could be too many replay stoppages in the final two minutes of each half.

By eliminating the booth reviews and keeping all interference-related calls as part of the challenge system, the disruptions likely would be reduced. It also would take pressure off the New York office, where replay reviews are conducted, by limiting the number of plays that are reviewed.

“I think whenever you have a new rule like this, there’s always some concern about how it’s going to be implemented,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and co-owner and a member of the competition committee. “I think we’ll be fine. We need to have some more discussion first.”

Another competition committee member, Packers president Mark Murphy, said one area of concern is how to officiate “Hail Mary” throws near the end of halftime or the fourth quarter. There is usually plenty of contact among several players on those plays.

Mara and Murphy said owners are unlikely to change overtime rules, despite plenty of discussion about the possibility of awarding each team at least one possession. Under current rules, a game ends if one team scores a touchdown on its first possession.

The Chiefs lost the AFC Championship Game when New England scored a touchdown on its first possession. The Chiefs proposed a change that would allow each team to get a possession regardless of whether a touchdown is scored on the first possession.

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