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Football Clock Management errata

Jets Ravens 11/14/04 game

These items are in chronological order with the most recent at the bottom of the page. This page got so big that it began to download too slowly so I broke it into a separate page for each year.

The 5th edition came out 12/27/13.

NFL referee’s timeout

I did not make the details of referee’s timeouts clear in the 4th edition. This is NFL rule 4-5-5. I talk about “official’s” timeouts in Football Clock Management and they are characterized by a 25-second play clock after they end and at times, the game clock is running during those 25-seconds.

In contrast, the NFL referee’s timeouts are essentially treated as if they never happened for game clock purposes. If the 40-second play clockwas going to run before the referee’s timeout it will run afterward and the game clock will run along with it if it would have contuinued to run before the referee’s timeout.

My failure to recognize this was brought to my attention my Philadelphia Daily News writer Rich Hoffman. The issue was a Week One “mistake” by the Philadelphia Eagles. They called a timeout in the same between-downs period as a referee’s timeout for a measurement. Hoffman actually thought I was right when I told him the Eagles should have waited for a down where there was no measurement because that way they would have gotten 40 seconds for their timeout rather than 25. Indeed, I think the Eagles thought the same thing as Hoffman and I.

But Rule 4-5-5-a says that a measurement timeout is a referee’s timeout which means that after the measurement is completed, the play clock is set at 40 and the game clock runs if the end of the previous play did not stop the game clock. So there is no clock reason not to call a timeout coincident with a measurement in the NFL.

Here are the other reasons for referee’s timeouts that do not change the NFL play clock from 40 seconds to 25:

• prolonged unpiling from a tackle or fumble recovery
• undue delay in spotting the ball by the officials for the next play
• snap before officials are in their ready positions
• injury to official or chain gang member
• officials conference
• repairing or replacing game equipment (not player equipment)

After the referee’s timeout, the play clock will be started at 40 seconds and the game clock will also be started simultaneously if there was no event that would stop the clock until the snap—like an incompletion—prior to the referee’s timeout.

This applies to the following discussions in the fourth edition of Football Clock Management:

• page 37

• page 72 (already states the rule correctly but apparently I forgot)

• 169 table will be corrected in the next edition

• page 200 needs a comment that the NFL needs to be excluded from one phrase

NCAA 25-second clock after measurement

In NCAA, there is still a 25-second clock after a measurement even though they adopted the 40-second play clock in general in 2008. [NCAA rule 3-2-4-c-5]

High School take-a-knee table

A reader—Sean Lynch, pointed out that the first line of this table never applies because on a gained first down, as opposed to the first down of a possession, the officials immediately call time out at the end of the play that gained a first down. So the game clock will not start until the chop which is the next row on the table. In theory, the ref could let the clock run then stop it to move the chains, but it almost never happens.

I agree. Please do what I will do for the next edition: delete that first row, or ignore it and go to the chop row.

Lynch also points out that there is a chop row for each down other than the second. Why? I overlooked it for some resaon.

It will be in my next edition and you can write it into your edition.

It goes like this:

Own 3, :06, :31, 1:06, 1:41

These mistakes are in all previous editions. Lynch was the first to spot it and tell me about it.

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An interesting clock-management game I have heard about but not yet researched: 1993 Peach Bowl Clemson over Kentucky.

You have written about DeSean Jackson losing a touchdown (15 Sept. 2008,
flicked the ball away too early). The play was called a TD on the field,
presumably influencing the opposing players (Dallas Cowboys) not to pick the
ball up. It took a challenge from the Cowboys' coach to get that play
overturned; the result was that the ball was abandoned at the 1 yard line,
and it was 1st & goal for Jackson's team (Phila. Eagles).

5 Sept. 2013: Danny Trevathan made interception for Denver Broncos and ran
to end zone but lost TD because he dropped the ball too soon. Result:

8 Nov. 2014, college football, Utah vs. Oregon: Kaelin Clay reached the end
zone in what would have been 79-yard pass play for TD for Utah, but that TD
was never called because he dropped the ball too soon. The play continued,
and Joe Walker ran the ball 99 yards the other way to score TD for Oregon.