Reviewing the NFL replay system in 2015

Rulings of completions, fumbles and incompletions were the most-challenged plays in 2015, but not many teams exceeded a 50 percent success rate in challenging calls.

With the NFL Competition Committee recently considering proposals to alter which rulings on the field can be challenged, or how many can be challenged, it’s worth looking at which teams enjoy the most success when challenging on-field decisions.

While it is important to remember that there is supposed to be clear evidence to overturn a call, it is interesting to note that only two teams had a success rate better than 60 percent challenging calls in 2015. The Miami Dolphins challenged only five calls on the field and were successful in four of their attempts (80 percent). The Cincinnati Bengals were more aggressive challenging calls and were successful in seven of their 11 attempts (63.6 percent).

Two teams – the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins – were successful on 60 percent of their attempts, with the Bills challenging 10 calls and the Redskins five.

The only team with more than 13 challenges was the Carolina Panthers, who challenged 18 times during the regular season last year and experienced a 55.5 percent success rate.

The San Diego Chargers challenged calls only three times and were successful only once, according to the NFL data.

The Indianapolis Colts, who challenged six times, were the only team to not win a challenge.

Keep in mind, too, that the replay booth is in charge of reviewing scoring plays and turnovers. Of the 276 challenges issued by the replay booth, 103 – or 37.3 percent – were overturned.

Not surprisingly, completions and incompletions accounted for two of the three biggest bones of contention. That’s usually the case, and last year 46 percent of the 139 challenges to plays that were ruled a completion were overturned. Thirty-six percent of the 80 challenges to plays that were ruled incompletions were overturned.

Sandwiched in between the questions about what is a completion were challenges to fumbles. Of the 81 times that a ruling of a fumble was challenged, 38 percent of those were overturned.

Here are the results of the teams that challenged plays and then the success rate of the different plays that were challenged in 2015.

CHALLENGES BY TEAM

Club Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
Arizona Cardinals 12 5 41.67%
Atlanta Falcons 5 2 40.00%
Baltimore Ravens 10 4 40.00%
Buffalo Bills 10 6 60.00%
Carolina Panthers 18 10 55.56%
Chicago Bears 6 1 16.67%
Cincinnati Bengals 11 7 63.64%
Cleveland Browns 10 5 50.00%
Dallas Cowboys 8 4 50.00%
Denver Broncos 6 2 33.33%
Detroit Lions 7 4 57.14%
Green Bay Packers 11 6 54.55%
Houston Texans 13 6 46.15%
Indianapolis Colts 6 0 0.00%
Jacksonville Jaguars 6 3 50.00%
Kansas City Chiefs 6 3 50.00%
Miami Dolphins 5 4 80.00%
Minnesota Vikings 9 2 22.22%
New England Patriots 6 2 33.33%
New Orleans Saints 6 3 50.00%
New York Giants 6 3 50.00%
New York Jets 5 1 20.00%
Oakland Raiders 6 3 50.00%
Philadelphia Eagles 4 1 25.00%
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 4 50.00%
San Diego Chargers 3 1 33.33%
San Francisco 49ers 9 2 22.22%
Seattle Seahawks 13 6 46.15%
St. Louis Rams 8 4 50.00%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 4 44.44%
Team Irvin 1 0 0.00%
Team Rice 1 0 0.00%
Tennessee Titans 7 3 42.86%
Washington Redskins 5 3 60.00%
Replay Booth 276 103 37.32%

PLAYS THAT WERE CHALLENGED

Review Type Challenges Plays Overturned Success Rate
Pass completion 139 64 46.04%
Fumble 81 31 38.27%
Incomplete pass 80 29 36.25%
Runner broke the plane 77 28 36.36%
Runner was down by contact 53 25 47.17%
Fiirst down 49 21 42.86%
Runner was in bounds 22 4 18.18%
Loose ball recovery 8 4 50.00%
Touchback 7 3 42.86%
Kick touched 5 0 0.00%
Backward pass 3 3 100.00%
Illegal forward pass 3 1 33.33%
Too many players on field 2 2 100.00%
Running into the kicker 1 0 0.00%
Tipped pass 1 1 100.00%
Ineligible receiver 1 1 100.00%

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