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John Harbaugh: A better replay system would have changed the outcome of five games last year

John Harbaugh, Ronald Torber


Ravens coach John Harbaugh says five teams lost games last season because of blown calls that the officials couldn’t review on instant replay, and it’s time for the NFL to change that.

“There were five games last year that were determined by non-reviewable calls that determined the outcome of the game,” Harbaugh said. “The fans don’t understand that. They don’t want to see that the officials made a mistake that everybody can see, that the fans saw in real time, that the league said, ‘That’s not reviewable. We can’t fix that.’ What do you mean you can’t fix it? We can’t fix it because we decide not to be able to fix it. We can fix it. Just fix it. Make it reviewable.”

For decades, the NFL has allowed instant replay reviews only in certain situations. Harbaugh wants the league to make the vast majority of calls reviewable, with only a handful of judgment calls that can’t be reviewed. The Ravens have put forward a proposal that the owners will vote on this week that would make everything reviewable with the exception of eight types of penalties: holding, pass interference, illegal contact, illegal use of hands, roughing the passer, illegal hits on a defenseless receiver, roughing the kicker and unsportsmanlike conduct.

“The fans have a better view and a better look at the game than the official does. Why aren’t we giving the officials and coaches that same view?” Harbaugh said today. “We have 33 lines of what’s reviewable now. Our proposal makes eight lines of what’s not reviewable, and everybody can understand it, that falls into the category of judgment calls.”

Harbaugh called concerns that additional replays would delay games “a red herring.” He believes that the NFL could easily work it out so that replay reviews are conducted during commercial breaks and the game wouldn’t last any longer. If Harbaugh is right about that -- and right that bad calls led to five teams losing their games last year -- it’s hard to see what the argument is against expanding instant replay.