WINNIPEG – It didn’t take long for the CFL to test out the new option allowing coaches to challenge pass interference.
In the late stages of yesterday’s contest between the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, quarterback Casey Pachall leaned into a pass intended for rookie wide receiver KJ Stroud. Winnipeg defensive back Michael Ray Garvin was in coverage as the ball fell incomplete.
Argos head coach Scott Milanovich promptly threw a challenge flag, claiming that there was pass interference on the play.
The play went to review and the challenge was deemed successful, allowing Toronto to scrimmage from the Winnipeg 16 yard line. Several plays later, Pachall found running back Steve Slaton open in the flat for what would prove to be the game-winning major.
Not only was it the first chance for a coach to test the call on the field, it was a first go-around for Glen Johnson and the replay official, who looked at the call, and ultimately overturn the ruling on the field from CFL headquarters in Toronto.
“The replay provided us with an angle the officials on the field didn’t have,” said Johnson, the league’s Vice President of Officiating. “It gave us an opportunity to make the right call with the additional information.”
On May 8th, the league’s Rules Committee and Board of Governors approved the proposed rule change which allows a team the ability to use any and all of its Coaches' Challenges to challenge a called or potential defensive pass interference foul up to the final three minutes of a game. In the final three minutes of a game, and overtime, a team can only challenge such a call or non-call one time, and only if it still has an unused challenge and a timeout remaining.
An unsuccessful challenge of a potential defensive pass interference foul in the final three minutes will result in the loss of a timeout. An unsuccessful challenge of an actual defensive pass interference call in the final minutes will not result in the loss of a timeout.
The CFL is the first football league to subject pass interference to video review.
On the losing end of the challenge was Blue Bombers rookie head coach Mike O’Shea who admitted that the rule worked but hinted that he may not be the biggest proponent of the rule.
"It worked out well for coach Milanovich, for Scott, and it was pass interference, I believe it was pass interference," he told The Canadian Press after Monday’s game.
"The rule worked and do I like the rule? Not really. There might be some problems with it at some point."
Johnson said that although Monday allowed a window into what could occur when actually exercised in game action, fine-tuning to the process is always taking place.
“It worked well the first time out. This was a rather straightforward one. We will continue to evaluate its effectiveness particularly on ones that are closer and have greater subjectivity involved.”