Sunday produced two of the most memorable NFL conference championship games in the history of the league, but maybe not for reasons the NFL wanted. Both the AFC and NFC Championship Games prompted discussion about whether or not the NFL will change major rules, and it could happen in the offseason.

The more egregious incident occurred in the NFC title game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis was tackled by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman while a pass from Drew Brees was still in the air.

Had it been a foul, the Saints could have killed the clock and kicked a game-winning field goal. Instead, they lost in overtime.

The league office reportedly told Saints coach Sean Payton it should have been at least defensive pass interference, if not a helmet-to-helmet hit, as well. Even Robey-Coleman confessed it should have been flagged. But it was not, so the NFL will look into changing the rule when the competition committee meets in the offseason, according to the Washington Post.

Unfortunately for the Saints, the league might be hesitant to adopt any rules that could have helped them in that specific scenario. NFL Network reporter Steve Wyche said on Tuesday that the NFL is unlikely to allow penalties that were not called on the field to be retroactively applied after a replay review.

 

 

The Canadian Football League allows pass interference to be challenged, even if it was not called on the field. However, the NFL may not want to give coaches that much control over the game. What the league could do is make pass interference reviewable after a flag has been thrown and encourage officials to throw it whenever it might apply, but that could artificially lengthen games.

While slightly less controversial, the NFL might also have to look into its overtime rules after Sunday’s AFC title game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. New England won the coin toss and methodically drove for a game-winning touchdown in OT, meaning presumptive league MVP Patrick Mahomes never got to touch the football in overtime.

That was after Mahomes had led the Chiefs to 24 points in the fourth quarter alone, leading to plenty of social media discourse about whether or not the NFL should adopt fairer overtime rules. Some say the Chiefs should have been given a shot to match the Patriots’ touchdown, while others contend Kansas City should have forced a punt or field goal on defense if they wanted a chance to win.

Even if there is support for rule changes after the conference title games, fans should not count on the league changing anything. At least 24 team owners would need to approve any rule change in the offseason.