NFL to allow replay assistant to review roughing the passer, intentional grounding penalties

NFL penalties for roughing the passer and intentional grounding that were previously considered judgment calls for officials will be subject to replay challenges for the upcoming season.

Such calls subject to review by a replay assistant must still be within objective parameters, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero — for instance, whether a quarterback was hit in the head on a roughing call, or if a QB was out of the pocket for a throw on an intentional grounding penalty.

During the 2023 NFL season, nearly every week featured at least one game in which there was a questionable roughing call that replays showed was actually a legal hit by a defensive player. Such penalties increasingly drew criticism from fans, media and former NFL players, thus compelling this rule change for the upcoming season.

Intentional grounding penalties also came under scrutiny, notably after a controversial call in a Week 9 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals that cost the Bills a possible field goal in a 24–18 loss.

Putting what were previously judgment calls up for review harkens back to when pass interference penalties were subject to replay during the 2019 NFL season. However, that rule change was deemed a failure and discontinued after only one season because so few pass interference penalties were overturned upon review.