In basketball and other such timed sports, a buzzer beater is a shot that is taken before the game clock of a quarter, a half, or an overtime period expires but does not go in the basket until after the clock expires and the buzzer sounds hence the name "buzzer beater". The concept normally applies to baskets that beat an end-of-quarter/half/overtime buzzer but is sometimes applied to shots that beat the shot clock buzzer.
Officials in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Basketball Association, Women's National Basketball Association, Serie A (Italy), and the Euroleague (Final Four series only, effective 2006) are required to use instant replay to assess whether a shot made at the end of a period was in fact released before the game clock expired. Since 2002, the NBA also has mandated LED light strips along the edges of the backboard and the edge of the scorer's table for the purposes of identifying the end of a period.
Although buzzer beaters are fairly common, several instances have been recognized as special occasions:
The term is sometimes applied to analogous achievements in other sports.
In ice hockey, a buzzer beater is a goal that is scored just before the clock expires in a period. Unlike in basketball, the puck must completely cross the goal line with 0.1 seconds or more remaining on the clock in order for the goal to count; if the period expires (the exact moment when the green goal light comes on at 0.0 seconds) before the puck completely crosses the goal line, the goal is disallowed.
In Australian rules football there are kicks after the siren, where a mark or free kick awarded just before the end of a quarter may be kicked as the final action of that period. In Gaelic football play is extended to allow for the kick of a free kick or puck awarded prior to the end of a half.
In gridiron football, a touchdown after time expires or a field goal (or, much more rarely, a successful fair catch kick) kicked as time expires can be described as a "buzzer beater," though no actual buzzers are used in that sport. More generally, in all codes, if a play (whether or not involving a kick) is in progress at the time the clock expires, play continues until the ball is dead. (In American football, the snap on the buzzer-beating play must take place before the clock expired, except if the defense commits a foul on the last play, in which case an untimed down is added. In Canadian football, a play can and must be executed even if the clock expires after the previous play but before the snap.) Several important games have been decided on the outcome of buzzer beaters, such as Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXVIII, both of which were decided on successful kicks by Adam Vinatieri; in contrast, Scott Norwood's infamous missed kick in Super Bowl XXV decided that game in favor of the opposing New York Giants. A related concept in football is the Hail Mary pass.
In rugby union the game does not end until the ball goes dead after time has expired – therefore if a side trailing by less than one score can maintain possession and keep the ball in play they have a chance of victory. A rule change in 2017amended the rules so that if a penalty is awarded the ball can be kicked out and a line-out taken, even if time has elapsed. The rules in rugby league also allow for play after time has elapsed; however, a tackle will also end the game, meaning that significant extensions are less likely.
Starting with the 2018 season, the National Federation of State High School Associations rules for high school boys' field lacrosse in the United States allow for buzzer-beaters.A goal counts if the shot was released before the official's whistle signaling the end of play for any period of the game, even if it goes in after having previously contacted part of the goal or a defensive player (post-whistle shots that contact an offensive player in any way before entering the goal, however, do not count). The opposing team may request a stick check after buzzer-beaters, unless it comes at the end of the game and does not result in overtime, since the rules consider the game over at that point.
US Lacrosse similarly changed the youth rules the same season to allow buzzer-beaters.However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association rules for men's lacrosse still require that any shot enter the goal before the whistle to score.
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