It is a five-yard penalty for delay of game in football when the 40-second play clock expires before the offense snaps the ball.
During each play, a 40-second clock will begin. This clock is referred to as the game clock, and it is the offense’s responsibility to snap the ball and initiate the play before it reaches zero.
The most common reason for a delay of game in football is letting the clock strike zero before starting the play.
Although this is true, there are many actions that can result in a delay of game penalty.
Check out our guides to encroachment, illegal formation, or illegal shift for more information on dead ball fouls.
The Reasons for Calling this Penalty
There are actually seven other actions that can result in a delay of game penalty being called in football other than the play clock striking zero.
The Number of Players Remaining on a Dead Ball
During the conclusion of a play, the officials will signal a 40-second play clock to begin. Some players will take advantage of this by making it difficult for the officials to set up the next play.
In the case of a player remaining on the ball or a player remaining on top of the ball carrier, a delay of game penalty can be assessed.
When the Officials Aren’t Set, Snap the Ball
The NFL rulebook states that snapping the ball repeatedly before the officials are set can result in a delay of game penalty.
As the rulebook makes it appear, committing this infraction once will not result in a penalty. The word repeatedly is crucial here.
Assembling After a Timeout
When a team takes too long to assemble after a timeout, they can also be penalized for delay of game.
Teams have a set amount of time to communicate during timeouts, during which the play clock and game clock are stopped.
Delay of game penalties can be charged if a team exceeds this limit during a timeout.
A False Start is Attempted
Your opponents may earn a delay of game penalty if they move before the snap when you play defense.
The defender can earn a false start if they line up near the neutral zone and start moving unnaturally. This penalty must be obvious in an attempt to make their opponent commit one.
Spiking or Throwing the Ball
If the ball is spiked after a big play, delay of game can be called.
The offense will have time to set up for the extra point attempt after a touchdown.
In the field of play, spike the ball will cost time as officials will have to retrieve it or find a replacement quickly. This will slow down the game and potentially cost time away from the clock.
A ball cannot be spiked or thrown away by the officials when they need it for the next play.
Delaying the Snap by intentionally Contacting the Football
You will be penalized if you spike, throw or contact the ball in any way that delays the snap.
Officials must mark down the ball again when a defensive player nudges it with his foot.
During these few seconds, the offense won’t be able to snap the ball before the play clock runs out, resulting in a delay of game.
Calling an Extra Timeout
There is a three-timeout limit per half, so calling a fourth timeout will result in a delay of game.
Each NFL season, there are usually a few instances of this sort of thing occurring.