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Bucs Getting Acquainted With Major Offseason Rule Change

So far, it’s been 50/50 in their favor.

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Justin Watson was the center of Tampa Bay’s challenge against the Dolphins.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

If the Buccaneers and Dolphins played Friday night’s game a year ago, the Bucs would’ve had a much tougher time scoring their first touchdown of the game.

That’s because Bruce Arians was able to challenge a no-call for defensive pass interference on Justin Watson, an option that wasn’t around before 2019. After the review, the refs overturned the call and the Bucs were given the ball inside the five-yard line. A quick pass to Tanner Hudson immediately followed and Tampa Bay took the lead.

As you can see, the refs threw a flag right off the bat, but they eventually waived the call. It was right after that moment when Arians decided to challenge the no-call and had it overturned.

It was pretty obvious that the Dolphins’ defender hooked Watson’s arm and that’s one of the big no-nos when it comes to defensive coverage.

But their experience in the Steelers game was not as favorable. This time, Arians decided to challenge a defensive pass interference call on Sean Murphy-Bunting in the third quarter, but the ruling was upheld.

There didn’t appear to be much contact during the live-motion shot and it was still tough to determine what the call was from most of the slow-motion angles.

But this angle showed SMB grabbing Holton’s arm/hand while the ball was en route, thus drawing the flag:

The Dolphins challenge is now the second time in two games that the Bucs have attempted to take advantage of one of the NFL’s new rule changes. It’s the biggest rule change of the offseason. Coaches can now challenge pass interference calls - or no-calls - at any point outside of the final two minutes of each half or overtime.

The NFL’s Football Operations twitter account put out this nifty little video to help explain the new rule:

You can check out the written version here.

While the rule is bound to have it’s growing pains, it certainly adds some intriguing strategy to the challenge system. Obviously, it will create another scenario for coaches to weigh and figure out whether or not to save said challenges for a later point in the game.

If there is contact on a 50-yard bomb and there is a no-call, does the opposing coach throw the flag? If the ruling is upheld, that could possibly erase an opportunity to challenge another call later in the game.

That’s just one of many different situations that will crop up due to the new rule. Fortunately for the Bucs, they are already getting an idea of what to expect, which should help them in the regular season.