NFL

Pass interference non-call robs Cardinals of extra play against Bucs; NFL fails again with PI review

The NFL made clear through nine weeks of the 2019 NFL season it would use its newfound power to overturn pass interference calls or non-calls via replay review only in egregious scenarios that resemble the infamous error in last year’s NFC title game.

The missed pass interference on the last play of the Buccaneers’ 30-27 win over the Cardinals on Sunday was not quite Saints-Rams bad, but it was egregious in its own right.

With 10 seconds to play and down three points on his own 38-yard line, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray launched a Hail Mary-esque pass to Pharoh Cooper, who was waiting near Tampa’s 20-yard line. The receiver, though, didn’t have much of a chance to catch the pass thanks to Bucs corner Jamel Dean’s early arrival with his defense. (Watch Cardinals general manager Steve Keim’s reaction to the play; he’s the one in the dark suit in the video below.)

Coaches are not allowed to challenge pass interference calls or non-calls under the 2-minute mark in each half, so the Cardinals and coach Kliff Kingsbury were left hoping the league would initiate a review of the play.

It did not.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert brought up the NFL’s stance on PI calls relating to Hail Mary plays when asked on Twitter why no flag was thrown and new review was initiated. (There supposedly is a higher standard for PI on such plays.) While this was not a classic Hail Mary attempt into the end zone, a pass interference call would have set up the Cardinals for a makeable field goal attempt to send the game into overtime.

Yet this was not an example of a receiver trying to manipulate a defender in an attempt to draw a flag. Cooper went up to catch a jump ball, and to use the NFL’s terminology, Dean “significantly hindered” the Cardinals receiver’s ability to make the catch.

The NFL’s officiating Twitter account, which the league often uses to explain calls and non-calls, had not addressed the Cardinals-Bucs play as of early Sunday evening.

Kingsbury did not criticize the officiating after the game, saying when asked about the last play, “That was a tough play, but there were a lot of plays before that.”

He would have been justified in doing so. This is yet another example of the NFL’s new pass interference replay initiative, supposedly installed to prevent the kind of error seen Sunday in Tampa Bay, being at best disingenuous and at worst a complete joke.

The Cardinals on Sunday were robbed of an extra play and, potentially, a win.

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