NFL Competition Committee admits Patriots should've been called for game-changing pass interference in Super Bowl LIII, per report

Alex Reimer
March 27, 2019 - 10:53 am

The Patriots benefitted from a major non-call that could’ve altered the outcome of Super Bowl LIII, according to a new reported finding from the NFL Competition Committee. ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the group admitted Stephon Gilmore’s breakup on a deep pass intended for Brandin Cooks late in the fourth quarter should’ve been called pass interference, giving the Rams the ball at the 1-yard line. 

Instead, Jared Goff threw an interception on the next play to Gilmore, essentially icing the game. New England kicked a field goal on its ensuing possession to take an insurmountable 13-3 lead.

The play in question occurred with 4:24 remaining in regulation. It was the second ill-fated deep connection between Goff and Cooks. The first one came early in the fourth quarter, which Jason McCourty batted away. Goff held onto the ball for a second too long, allowing the veteran corner to pursue Cooks.

Gilmore was a half-step behind Cooks on the second pass, grazing the receiver with his left arm before the ball fell threw his hands. The contact appeared to be minimal. 

The competition committee also voted Tuesday to allow replay reviews on pass interference calls, and non-calls, so coaches will be able to challenge these tight plays next season. The now-infamous non-call on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman in the NFC championship that propelled Los Angeles to the Super Bowl was the main genesis behind that rule change. 

While it’s good to get the calls right, hopefully the committee isn’t placing an even larger emphasis on pass interference. It would’ve been lame if Gilmore was whistled for such a questionable penalty in the deciding moments of the Super Bowl –– though it's unlikely many parties would've had much sympathy for the Patriots. 

Related: Offensive and defensive pass interference penalties can now be challenged