The NFL will allow more plays to be reviewable via replay next season, but not as many as Ravens coach John Harbaugh would like.
At the their meeting in Orlando on Wednesday, NFL owners approved of a rules change allowing the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play to be reviewed.
It is known as the NaVorro Bowman Rule after a controversial play in the NFC Championship Game this past season. Bowman clearly recovered a fumble and was down by contact in the field of play against Seattle. But the officials never saw it, and as Bowman writhed on the field with what proved to be a torn ACL, the officials awarded Seattle the ball. Since there was no turnover in the officials' eyes, and since the play didn't occur in the end zone, the play was not reviewable.
The change makes perfect sense, and as with other replay rulings, there would need to be clear evidence to overturn a call, which was the case on the Bowman play.
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The owners also approved a change that allows a referee to consult with the NFL officiating department in New York during reviews.
But owners held the line elsewhere in terms of replay, voting down a proposal to make all plays reviewable.
The rule was proposed by the Patriots, and Harbaugh was among those in favor of it.
"We’re on record in Baltimore the last four or five years of being in favor of putting everything in instant replay that can be put in instant replay," Harbaugh said at the owners meeting. "It’s our feeling that the technology has caught up with the game in a lot of ways.
"I tend to agree with Coach Belichick," Harbaugh added. "I think everything should be reviewed. If not, work back from what shouldn’t be reviewed. Don’t work out from what should be reviewed because right now, all we do every year is we add things for review cause a play happens like the San Francisco play. You say, ‘Oh boy, that’s a loophole that should be reviewed,’ so we add it. That’s the tail wagging the dog. Everything that can be reviewed should be reviewed and what those specifically would not include, we could decide. ... Don’t put the referee in a situation where real time and the fans have a better view of the play than he does. That makes no sense. That’s our view.”
Jeff Fisher, the Rams head coach and a member of the Competition Committee, said at a news conference at the owners meeting that "less than 50 percent" of coaches were in favor of making all plays reviewable.
But, he added, "We are constantly evaluating our replay system because we all want to get things right."