Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 6, 2003
FOOTBALL: NFL Rules

Rich Lowry on NRO reprints a fascinating point from a reader email on the last play of the Giants' implosion yesterday:

"Immediately [after the game ended] Chris Collinsworth gets after Matt Allen, the Giants holder, for not immediately spiking the ball. Collinsworth exclaimed that this would have stopped the clock and allowed for another field goal attempt. . . . under NFL rules Allen spiking the ball would have induced an intentional grounding penalty with a ten second runoff, thus ending the game. Only a quarterback taking a hand-to-hand exchange from the center, then immediately throwing the ball forward to the ground, constitutes a legal spike. Anything else is intentional grounding which results in not only loss of yardage and down, but a ten second runoff to boot."

I wasn't sure if this was correct, so I went to the rules; I didn't have time to scour the rulebook, but the grounding rule itself doesn't say anything about the passer taking a handoff rather than a long snap as a predicate to a proper spike:

Intentional Grounding of Forward Pass
1. Intentional grounding of a forward pass is a foul: loss of down and 10 yards from previous spot if passer is in the field of play or loss of down at the spot of the foul if it occurs more than 10 yards behind the line or safety if passer is in his own end zone when ball is released.

2. Intentional grounding will be called when a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage due to pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion.

3. Intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, while out of the pocket and facing an imminent loss of yardage, throws a pass that lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including if the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or end line).

However, Jerry Seeman, the NFL's director of officiating, addressed just this point in a Q&A on the NFL's website two years ago:

Brian Chan, B.C. Canada: If the holder for a field-goal unit has trouble handling the snap, can he legally spike the ball to stop the clock without being called for intentional grounding?

Jerry Seeman: If the holder spiked the ball, it would be intentional grounding. The only player that can legally spike the ball to stop the clock, is a T-quarterback.

That looks like the answer to that - Collinsworth was wrong.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:29 PM | Football | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

When was spiking the football by the quarterback to stop the clock made a rule?

Posted by: Al DEabel at November 27, 2003 11:50 PM

Why isnt spiking the ball intentional grounding

Posted by: Keaton at December 26, 2003 9:06 AM

Who was the first person to spike the football and when? Not to stop the clock but to show off etc.

Posted by: John Smith at January 12, 2006 10:16 PM
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