The delay of game penalty in football occurs when the 40-second play clock strikes zero before the offense snaps the ball. The penalty is five yards.
Each play ends with a 40-second clock. The offense is responsible for snapping the ball and starting a play before the clock strikes zero.
The most common reason for a delay in football is letting the clock strike zero before starting play.
The fact remains that a delay of game penalty can be triggered by a wide range of actions.
Check out our guides to encroachment, illegal formation, and illegal shift for more information about dead ball fouls.
Reasons for Calling this Penalty
There are actually seven other actions that can lead to a delay of game penalty being called in football besides the play clock striking zero.
Player remaining a Dead Ball
Some players take advantage of this by making it difficult for the officials to set up the ball for the next play. This is because a play is coming to an end.
There can be a delay of game penalty if a player remains on the ball or on top of the ball carrier after the play has been completed.
Snapping the ball before the officials are set
It is stated in the NFL rulebook that snapping the ball repeatedly before the officials are set can result in a delay of game penalty.
As stated in the rulebook, committing this infraction once won’t result in a penalty, but committing it repeatedly will.
Assembling After a Timeout
If a team takes too long to assemble after a timeout, they may be charged with a delay of game penalty.
While the game clock and play clock are stopped during a timeout, teams have a set amount of time to communicate.
Delay of game penalties can be imposed if a team exceeds this limit during a timeout.
Attempting to Cause a False Start
Defensive players can earn a delay of game penalty by causing their opponents to move before the snap.
An unnatural movement by the defender near the neutral zone can earn them a false start penalty. For this penalty to be assessed, there must be an obvious attempt by the defender to get their opponent to commit a false start.
Spin or Throw the Ball
Delay of game decisions can be made for obvious reasons, such as spiking the ball after a big play.
As the offense will have time to prepare for an extra point attempt after a touchdown, a spike is not an issue.
When the ball is thrown on the field of play, officials will have to retrieve it or find a replacement quickly. This slows down the game and costs time.
As a result, players are not allowed to spike or throw away a ball when officials need it for the next play.
Contact with the Football delay the Snap
You will be penalized for spiking and throwing the football, as well as contacting the ball in any way that delays the snap.
The official is marking the ball down when a defensive player nudges it with his foot, forcing the official to mark it again.
During these few seconds, the offense will not be able to snap the ball before the play clock expires, thus delaying the game.
Calling an Extra Timeout
The team that calls a timeout without remaining time in the half will be charged with a delay of game penalty. Teams are only allowed three timeouts per half, so calling a fourth will result in a delay of game penalty.
Each NFL season, there are usually a few occasions when this sort of thing happens.