Pinkston makes most of opportunities

Updated: March 8, 2004, 9:58 AM ET
By By Ryan Early | NFL Insider
Pass interference penalties are the most controversial, most inconsistent, and potentially most damaging of all the different types of rule infractions. Referees must decide in a split second whether the hand the defender placed on the receiver was just to keep track of him or whether it impeded the progress of the receiver.

Did the defender make contact with the receiver before the ball arrived, or did they arrive simultaneously? Was the wide receiver shoving the defender's hand away before making the catch, or was he pushing off to gain space? If the referee decides that pass interference did take place, that call could be the biggest play of the game. That's because defensive pass interference advances the ball to the spot of the foul, which could be far in excess of the traditional 15-yard major penalty.

During the 2003 season, there were 481 coverage penalties such as pass interference, defensive holding or illegal use of hands. Eighty-one were declined either due to the catch being made or as part of offsetting penalties. Those that were accepted totaled 4,402 yards, or 11.0 yards per penalty. Ninety-five went for yardage greater than 15 yards and 49 went for 25 or more yards.