CFL field goal calls may go to replay this year

Canadian Football League head coaches are a step closer to being able to challenge missed field goals and converts. The league's rules committee has approved a proposal allowing coaches to request video review of a missed field goal or extra point.

Rules committee also looking at making coach's challenges more flexible

B.C. Lions kicker Paul McCallum, right, kicks a field goal as quarterback Mike Reilly holds during the second half of a game last November. Coaches have moved closer to being allowed a challenge on whether a field goal was good or not. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

CFL head coaches are closer to being able to challenge missed field goals and converts.

On Friday, the league's rules committee approved a proposal allowing coaches to request video review of a missed field goal or extra point. The recommendation will be presented to the CFL's board of governors for approval later this spring.

"It's vitally important to ensure we get potential scoring plays right," said Tom Higgins, the CFL's director of officiating. "Video review has proven to be a tremendous asset, especially in an age of high definition cameras in multiple locations."

Last year, the CFL's board of governors unanimously approved the rules committee's recommendation that all scoring plays be subject to replay review. That included all touchdowns, field goals, converts, singles and safeties.

The committee also recommended coaches be given more flexibility in how they use timeouts. It approved a proposal allowing coaches to use both of their timeouts at any point during regulation time so long as they don't use more than one after the three-minute warning.

Previously, coaches were restricted to using one in each half.

The committee consists of CFL head coaches, GMs, presidents, league officials as well as a representative from the CFL Players' Association.

There was no recommendation of the proposal to eliminate low, open-field blocks. The committee requested more data on injuries and additional study on the potential affect on the run game.

That proposal would've eliminated open-field blocks below the waist on running and screen plays after previous rule changes had effectively eliminated them for other types of plays. The initiative was a bid to further improve player safety.

The committee has instructed CFL officials to broaden their interpretation of what constitutes an illegal low block to better protect players. It also required blocks be clearly delivered in front of a defender.

The committee rejected a proposal to change the penalty for pass interference from possession at the point of the foul to a specific-yardage punishment and automatic first down.

It also turned down a recommendation to allow a player losing his helmet while trying to catch a pass or recover a loose ball to continue trying to gain possession without penalty. The play would've be blown dead as soon as the helmetless player got the ball.

Last year, the board of governors adopted the recommendation that a play be blown dead immediately when a ballcarrier's helmet comes off. The line of scrimmage for the next play becomes the point where the helmet came off.

League officials also ruled should a non ballcarrier's helmet come off, that player is no longer able to participate in the play. If he does, he's penalized 10 yards for illegal participation.

Any player hitting an opponent not participating in a play because of a lost helmet receives a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.