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One rule proposal would let coaches challenge uncalled penalties in replay

Washington Redskins v Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 16: A penalty flag as seen during the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins at TIAA Bank Field on December 16, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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For years, there have been calls for the NFL to expand instant replay to allow coaches to challenge an uncalled penalty. And for years, the argument against that has been that it’s opening a Pandora’s box where every big play by one team is followed by a challenge from the coach of the other team, who says, “I think there was holding on that play.” And if the officiating office looks closely enough, they can probably find holding on every play.

But a proposal the owners will consider next week allows uncalled penalties to be reviewed -- only if the coach can cite a specific penalty committed by a specific player.

“Once a challenge is initiated, the Head Coach must provide the Referee with the specific player (jersey number) and the specific foul that was committed on the play, regardless of whether there was a penalty called by the on-field officiating crew,” the proposal states.

In other words, Saints coach Sean Payton could have challenged the pass interference non-call on Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman in the NFC Championship Game, and that call would have been made in replay. But a coach couldn’t simply challenge a play and tell the referee, “I think you can find a penalty.”

The proposal was made by Washington -- not by the Competition Committee, which has put forward a narrower replay proposal for the owners to consider next week. The broad proposal put forward by Washington has previously been proposed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, so it appears that at least two teams will vote for it. But it takes 24 of 32 votes to change a rule, and in the past other owners have been much more cautious about broadly expanding replay.