Playoff football has arrived and, for us real football fans who like defense, it couldn’t come soon enough. Consider that throughout the course of the regular season, the flag for defensive pass interference had come out just about once per game while a flag for defensive holding had come out just .67 times per game? Let me ask, which one is more detrimental to an offense?
All in all, it made for a painful product, at times, that led to complaint after complaint from wide receivers crying for calls and let mediocre offenses (Baltimore, Dallas etc.) put up huge numbers. But in the first week of the playoffs, that truth couldn’t be further from reality.
I watched these games closely and noticed that a significant amount of contact was being allowed as opposed to the regular season. To double check myself, I looked through the play-by-play for each game and, wouldn’t you know it, the defensive pass interference was called just one time in 295 pass attempts.
One pass interference in four games is equivalent to .25 defensive pass interference calls per game, which is down 75 percent of what it was called throughout the regular season. Instead of pass interference, the refs opted to go with defensive holding more as that was called once per game.
The NFL got the memo and I’m so glad they did. The one-and-done nature of the NFL playoffs just isn’t as compelling unless you let both sides of the ball play. The thing is, it didn’t even affect the average scoring so why can’t we do this all season long?
On average, the eight teams that played yesterday scored 26 points per game during the 2013 regular season. In the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the average score for those eight teams was 27.3. The scoring remained consistent on average as it pertains to those teams and even went up a little bit. When you don’t over-officiate games, the scoring stays the same and the better team wins more often than not.
The answer to my question earlier is defensive pass interference is by far more detrimental. I’ll take a flag for defensive holding all day because it’s only five yards, but it also benefits the offense as their awarded a first down. The problem is calling pass interference with every little bit of contact and awarding seldom caught jump balls a 40 yard penalty over touch fouls.
I’m happy in what I noticed in the Wild Card round and I hope the trend continues. Until then, we can be guaranteed to see the 49ers and every other offense jump around and putting their hands up after every pass attempt. It’s a culture that needs to be rid in the NFL and it’s annoying.