Two years ago, a key defensive pass interference non-call helped keep the Saints out of the Super Bowl — and turned the NFL on its head. Today, a key defensive pass interference call helped send the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl.
With the Buccaneers holding a five-point lead and facing third and four at their own 37 with under two minutes to play, quarterback Tom Brady threw over the middle to receiver Tyler Johnson. Cornerback Kevin King grabbed Johnson’s jersey, slowing him down by a step.
No flag came initially. Then, several seconds later, the yellow hankie flew through the air.
Defensive pass interference. First down, Tampa.
That essentially ended it. And while the jersey pull seemed obvious, the game had a distinct “let them play” vibe throughout.
After the Saints non-call from early 2019, the NFL implemented replay review for pass interference calls and non-calls. That lasted a year.
Even if it still applied, replay review wouldn’t have overturned the ruling on the field. There was a grab, there was impairment of the effort to make the catch. There was interference.