It didn’t take long into the preseason for the NFL’s first pass interference challenge flag.
Stephens was covering Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage on a deep sideline route and was flagged for making contact before the pass from Kurt Benkert arrived, a 43-yard penalty.
Broncos flagged for PI on deep ball
Stephens grabbed Gage’s jersey around his chest while the ball was still in the air, making clear and obvious contact with the intended receiver.
Broncos challenge, ruling upheld
Broncos head coach Vic Fangio challenged the penalty, nonetheless, putting officials to the test for the highly scrutinized new rule that came about as a result of the controversial no-call in the waning moments of the NFC Championship game that saw officials miss a blatant penalty on the Los Angeles Rams.
After a few moments reviewing the play, referee Walt Anderson announced that the ruling on the field would stand.
The Broncos were charged with a timeout, and play resumed.
This case was a fairly simple call. The rule requires clear and obvious evidence contrary to the call on the field to overturn a call, and officials got this one right on the field.
Coaches likely to put rule to test in preseason
But as Fangio demonstrated, coaches are likely to use the preseason to liberally test the limits of pass interference reviews.
The Falcons, meanwhile, took the golden opportunity to troll the rival Saints on Twitter.
See... that really was pass interference. 😏— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 2, 2019
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