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NFL may expand replay, automatically review all end zone plays

Bill Leavy

NFL referee Bill Leavy walks from the field after the teams warmed up before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


For the second consecutive offseason, the NFL may be ready to expand its use of instant replay.

Last offseason, the NFL changed the rules so that all scoring plays were automatically reviewed by the replay assistant, who then paged the referee and told him to halt the game and review the play if the ruling was close enough. This offseason, the NFL may change the rules again so that not only scoring plays but also plays in the end zone that aren’t ruled a touchdown or safety on the field get reviewed.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Rich Eisen of NFL Network that the league’s Competition Committee will review the matter this offseason.

“Whether you scored or you didn’t score, should we review that automatically?” Goodell said.

Goodell noted that there were some key plays during the 2011 season on which a player was ruled not to have scored on the field, and that when replays appeared to indicate that he had scored, that player’s team couldn’t challenge because it had already used its challenges.

For instance, in Week 17 in Green Bay, Lions receiver Titus Young caught a pass in the end zone and got both feet down for a touchdown, but the official on the field wrongly believed Young only got one foot down and ruled it incomplete. The Lions had already used their challenges and couldn’t get the play overturned on replay. Under the new proposal, that play would be automatically reviewed.

Goodell added, however, that he is concerned about adding additional replay reviews slowing down the game.

“You don’t want to disrupt the pace of the game,” Goodell said.

So the question facing the Competition Committee will be whether the NFL can find a way to get more calls right, without taking any longer.