Football Defensive Delay Of Game Penalty

Football Defensive Delay Of Game Penalty

As many have heard of the 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 an offensive player from getting back to the line of scrimmage in order to run the next play on time.


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, such as 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 know a delay of game penalty can be called on the defense due to its rarity.


Defensive Delay of Game5 Yards5 Yards5 Yards10 Yards5 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, CFL, 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.


  • 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