This time of year, having a coach who knows when and what to challenge can be a game-changing weapon of sorts. Through the 2022 NFL playoffs, we’ve already seen how shoddy officiating can be, and the challenge is a tool well worth its use.
While the challenge rule has been somewhat controversial throughout the years for what can and cannot be challenged, the NFL has done well to make sure not every decision that’s made on the field doesn’t fall on the coach’s head to challenge, especially
Here’s what the rules are:
How many challenges are allowed in the NFL?
The coach’s challenge rules are pretty simple:
The coach must throw a challenge flag before the start of the next play. Once the next play is underway, a coach can no longer challenge.
Both teams in an NFL game start with two challenges. Those are the only two challenges that teams get for the duration of the game. If a team uses two challenges and successfully wins both, then they are allowed one final challenge.
A team can only use a challenge if they have at least one timeout remaining. A team cannot challenge a play if they have no timeouts remaining.
In the case of a successful challenge, the call on the field is overturned and are charged for one challenge. In the case of a failed challenge, the team loses a timeout.
Inside of two minutes at the end of a half, plays cannot be challenged, and all reviews will be initiated by the officials.
If a coach challenges but has no timeouts, then the team is assessed a 15-yard penalty.
All replay reviews in overtime will be initiated by the replay official. Challenges left from regulation do not roll over into overtime.
What NFL plays are reviewable?
There’s a lot of NFL plays that are reviewable, including the following:
- Fumbles (a team must have clear possession of the football to be overturned);
- Spot of the ball;
- Runner down by contact;
- Goal line plays (if a play is not called a touchdown on the field);
- 12 players on the field at the snap, even if a penalty is not called.
The NFL’s one-year experiment of offensive and defensive pass interference came to an end prior to the 2020 season.
What plays are not reviewable?
There are a number of plays that are not reviewable, including the following:
- Turnovers, which are automatically reviewed;
- Scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed;
- Penalties, including offensive or defensive pass interference;
- Turnovers after the whistle is blown;
- Forward progress.
When coaches throw a challenge flag on plays that are automatically reviewed, such as a scoring play, they are penalized for it.