clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pass interference calls had a huge impact on Seahawks vs. Cowboys

It’s time for the league to reconsider their stance on pass interference.

NFL: OCT 29 Vikings at Packers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Before I climb onto my soap box, let me state in unequivocal terms that the Seattle Seahawks did not lose Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys because of the officiating.

Seattle lost for 2 reasons:

  1. Dallas scored on 8 of their 9 “meaningful” possessions: 4 touchdowns, 4 field goals, 1 turnover on downs.
  2. Seattle’s final points came with 14:17 left in the game with the offense turning the ball over on downs on each of their final three possessions.

That said, the zebras were terrible and one play in particular stands out.

If you watched the game, you know what’s coming . . .

Clearly, Riq Woolen touched CeeDee Lamb’s shoulder while the ball was in the air.

But did he affect Lamb’s ability to catch the ball?

That would be a NO.

Lamb had the ball in his hands; he just didn’t make the catch.

The refs bailed the Cowboys out though: 2nd and 4 from the Dallas 31 turned into 1st and 10 from Seattle’s 34.

That’s a 35-yard swing because the DB touched the WR’s shoulder.

Which is something that happens on A LOT of plays.

But isn’t called.

To be clear, Dallas didn’t win the game because of that play.

Seattle led 35-27 at the time, the Cowboys’ drive stalled at the Seattle 19, and a Brandon Aubrey field goal cut the lead to 5.

Dallas won the game because their defense made plays when they had to, and Seattle’s defense . . . didn’t.

Same too for the offenses: Geno Smith & Co. repeatedly came up short with the game in the balance; Dak Prescott & Co. did what they had to do.

This article isn’t about the outcome of the game though, it’s about the impact that pass interference calls had on the game.

In my opinion, the flag that Woolen drew for touching Lamb’s shoulder is just the poster child for what should be a bigger discussion at the league office.

. . .

Over the course of Thursday night’s game, the Seahawks and Cowboys amassed 257 yards on 19 accepted penalties.

The breakdown was remarkably even:

  • Seattle: 10 penalties for 130 yards
  • Dallas: 9 penalties for 127 yards

The breakdown within the penalties was decidedly uneven though:

  • Defensive Pass Interference (DPI): 6 penalties for 166 yards
  • Everything else: 13 penalties for 91 yards

And within the DPIs:

  • Seattle: 4 for 113 yards
  • Dallas: 2 for 53

Even if we assume that every single defensive pass interference call was warranted (which is definitely NOT the case), those calls accounted for nearly 2/3rds (64.6%) of the penalty yards on Thursday night.

No matter how you look at it, 166 yards of field position as the result of 6 flags is, well, RIDICULOUS.

That brings us to my soap box . . .

It’s time for the NFL to reconsider pass interference.

Personally, I’m in favor of making defensive pass interference a 15-yard penalty in most instances with it becoming a spot foul:

  • In the final five minutes of a half
  • In overtime
  • When the referee determines that the pass interference is “clearly intentional” (ex. tackling a receiver that’s gotten behind the defense before he can make a play on the ball or “mugging” a receiver in the end zone)

Even if the league doesn’t change where the ball is spotted, they should consider redefining what is and what is not “pass interference” (see the Woolen/Lamb example, above).

Alternatively, or in addition to any or all of the above, the league should revisit the idea of pass interference being a challengeable play.

Yeah, the results the first time around (2019) weren’t all that great: the league took some heat for how it was implemented and only 13 of 81 pass interference challenges were successful. As I recall though, part of the problem in 2019 was that coaches could challenge plays on which pass interference was not called (but they thought it should have been).

Maybe I’m mis-remembering that, but the challenge option was added because of an uncalled pass interference penalty in the 2018 NFC Championship game, so . . . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Either way, I think that uncalled penalties should not be reviewable / challengeable because every play has uncalled penalties (see: Holding, Offensive).

Bottom line: Defensive pass interference penalties have an outsized impact on a game and is something that the league needs to take a look at.

How they do that is up to them, obviously, but they need to address it.