Football Play Clock
The play clock keeps track of time in between scrimmage downs. The play clock will last either 40 seconds, 25 seconds, or 10 seconds based on what happened in the previous scrimmage down.
Football Scrimmage Downs
When a football team is on offense, they have four scrimmage downs to move the ball on the football field. The play clock forces players to play the next scrimmage down within either 40 seconds, 25 seconds, or 10 seconds.
40 Second Play Clock
Most of the time, the play clock lasts 40 seconds. That means the offense has 40 seconds to snap the ball and play the scrimmage down after the previous play was completed. A penalty called delay of game will be given to the offense if they don't snap the ball in time.
25 Second Play Clock
The play clock will last 25 seconds only after a specific set of administrative stoppages. The 25 second play clock will start when the referee blows their whistle following the stoppage.
The administrative stoppages that cause the 25 second clock include:
- Change of possession
- Charged timeout
- Two-minute warning
- End of a quarter
- Penalty enforcement
- Extra point of a two-point conversion attempt
10 Second Runoff
In rare instances, the play clock may run for 10 seconds if a player commits a certain foul after the two-minute warning has already been given.
The fouls for which a 10 second runoff will be given include:
- An offensive foul that prevents the snap
- Intentional grounding
- Illegal forward pass thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage
- Throwing a backward pass from out of bounds
- Spiking or throwing the ball after the downs end
- Any other intentional foul that causes the clock to stop
How long is the play clock in college football?
The play clock in college football is set to either 40 or 25 seconds. The 25 second play clock is only used after a stoppage, such as a timeout, change of possession, or a penalty. Under normal circumstances, players have 40 seconds to snap the ball on a typical scrimmage down.
How long is the play clock in the NFL?
In the NFL, the play clock usually runs for 40 seconds in total. This gives the offense 40 seconds to snap the ball and play the current scrimmage down. There are also special circumstances in which the play clock runs for 25 seconds, including change of possession, timeout, and end of a quarter.