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Football Defensive Delay Of Game Penalty

Football Defensive Delay Of Game Penalty

While many have heard of football’s delay of game penalty on the offensive side of the ball, most don’t know there is also a defensive delay of game penalty. The defensive delay of game penalty occurs when a defensive player obstructs the ball or prevents an offensive player from getting back to the line of scrimmage in order to run the next play on time.

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Definition

Delay of game penalties are most frequently called when the offense fails to snap the ball before the play clock expires. The NFL classifies delay of game penalties (other than when the offense allows the play clock to run out) as an opponent remaining on runner to consume time, undue delay in assembling after a timeout, defensive abrupt non-football movements, spiking or throwing the ball in the field of play, and taking the ball from a downed runner causing delay.

The defense could be called for a delay of game penalty for any of these reasons at any point in the game. Just like offensive delay of game, this penalty exists to make sure the flow of the game runs smoothly by penalizing a team for purposely wasting game time. Although rare, the penalty does exist. Most people do not even know that a delay of game penalty can be called on the defense due to its rarity. 

Result

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFL
Defensive Delay of Game5 Yards5 Yards5 Yards10 Yards

The result of a defensive delay of game penalty is the same as on the offensive side: five yards lost. The five-yard loss is consistent across high school, NCAA, and NFL football. In contrast to an offensive delay of game penalty, the offense will actually gain five yards on a defensive delay of game penalty. In other words, the defense will lose five yards.

Penalty Signal

football penalty signal delay of game

The referee makes the same motion as they would for an offensive delay of game penalty. They will place one arm over the other with both hands going to the opposite elbow. The only difference in the signal compared to an offensive delay of game penalty is that after making the aforementioned motion, the referee will point to the defensive side of the ball.

Examples

  • A defensive player lies on an offensive player for an excessive amount of time after a play.
  • A defensive player takes the ball from a runner after the play and doesn’t give the ball to the referee in time.
  • A defensive player spikes or throws the ball after a play.

Similar Penalties To Defensive Delay Of Game

FAQ

What is a defensive delay of game?

A defensive delay of game penalty results in a loss of yardage for the defense. This means that the opposing offense will gain yardage. The exact number of yards a team loses for committing a delay of game penalty can vary depending on what level of football or what league they are playing in. Most football leagues including the NCAA and NFL will penalize a delay of game penalty with a loss of five yards.

What is the difference between an offensive and defensive delay of game penalty?

There are two versions of the delay of game penalty, one charged to the offense and one for the defense. Both result in a loss of five yards for the offending team. Offensive delay of game penalties occur when the offense fails to run a play before the play clock winds down. Defensive delay of game penalties take place when a defensive player prevents an offense from running its next play by interfering with the ball or a player moving back towards the line of scrimmage.

Can a delay of game penalty be called on the defense in football?

Yes, although it is uncommon, delay of game penalties can be called on the defense in football. While many fans view the delay of game penalty as something that only happens when the offense fails to snap the ball before the play clock expires, this is not the case. Delay of game penalties can also be called on the defense when they prohibit the ball or a member of the offensive team from returning to the line of scrimmage for the next play.

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