In gridiron football, clock management is an aspect of game strategy that focuses on the game clock and/or play clock to achieve a desired result, typically near the end of a match. Depending on the game situation, clock management may entail playing in a manner that either slows or quickens the time elapsed from the game clock, to either extend the match or hasten its end. When the desired outcome is to end the match quicker, it is analogous to " running out the clock" (and associated counter-tactics) seen in many sports. Clock management strategies are a significant part of American football, where an elaborate set of rules dictates when the game clock stops between downs, and when it continues to run.
Upon kickoff, the clock is started when a member of the receiving team touches the ball, or, if the member of the receiving team touches the ball in their end zone, carries the ball out of the end zone. The clock is stopped when the down ends. (The clock never starts if the receiving team downs the ball in their own end zone for a touchback.) The clock is then restarted when the offense snaps the ball for their first play and continues to run unless one of the following occurs, in which case the clock is stopped at the end of the play and restarts at the next snap unless otherwise provided:
If the clock runs out during a play, the current play is allowed to continue to its conclusion. If the clock runs out between downs, the period ends in American football, but in Canadian football the offense is allowed one last down.
Each team is given three timeouts per half which they can use to stop the clock from running after a play. In the NFL, teams get two timeouts in a preseason or regular season overtime period, or three in a postseason overtime half.
On a fair-catch kick in the NFL, the clock starts at the kick and stops at the end of the play.
A team on offense that has the higher score seeks to use as much time as possible. A drive may therefore benefit the team, even if it scores no points, by taking time off the clock. The team may:
The team may use counterintuitive game plans, such as declining to score or allowing the opponents to score, to accelerate the end of the game.
If the defense does not have enough time-outs to stop the clock before the ball is turned over on downs, the offense can run out the clock by executing repeated quarterback kneels until the clock runs out. In the NFL and college football, up to 40 seconds can be taken off the clock between plays. The NFL also has a built-in two-minute warning that stops the clock after the play that occurs when the clock hits two minutes ends. In order to successfully run out the clock by kneeling, there must be less than 40 seconds on the clock if the opponent has no time-outs, 1 minute 20 seconds if the opponent has one time-out, or 2 minutes if the defense has two time-outs remaining, at the snap on a first down (an additional 40 seconds can be run off if the clock keeps running after the play that gains the first down). The offense can burn further time off the clock by timewasting: keeping the ball live (and the clock running) simply by keeping away from any defensive player, regardless of position on the field.
A team on offense that has the lower score seeks to conserve time. The team may:
A team that is tied or trailing by one or two points but is within the red zone (and thus in easy field goal range) seeks to burn a specific amount of time off the clock, such that they can stop the clock with five or fewer seconds on the clock, so that their placekicker can kick a field goal with no time remaining and win the game.
One exceptionally rare strategy that a team in possession of the ball near the end of the game can use is the fair catch kick. For the fair catch kick to be a viable option, several conditions must be met: the opposing team must have punted the ball within play and the receiving team used the fair catch to secure the ball, the punt must have been exceptionally short so that the spot of the fair catch is within field goal range and unlikely to be returned, the team using the fair catch kick must be either tied or within three points, and the game must not be played under NCAA rules (the NCAA has no fair catch kick rule).
A team on defense has little control over the pace of the game. It may expend its timeouts to ensure that there is adequate time left on the clock, in case the team regains possession. The defense can make decisions on how to stop the ball carrier based on whether the team is trailing or leading: if the offense is trying to conserve time, the defense can foil that by tackling the ball carrier in-bounds before they can get out of bounds. Defenses likewise can safely devote more personnel to the perimeter and leave the center of the field and areas near the line of scrimmage less defended, as an offense that cannot afford to keep the clock running will have to throw toward the sidelines (see also: prevent defense).
Various rules ensure that the defense cannot deliberately commit fouls to manipulate the game clock, and in the most extreme such cases, an unfair act can be declared and the game forfeited to the offense. (Likewise, if the offense commits fouls to burn off time and get extra downs, the clock is reset and unsportsmanlike conduct is called on them.)
In Canadian football, a team trailing by one point or tied has an additional option: a ball can be kicked from anywhere on the field in that sport, and balls kicked into or through the end zone and not returned score a single point. This allows a team trailing by one to advance the ball upfield, then punt the ball toward the end zone in hopes of tying the game for one point (the player could also drop kick the ball, which would allow the kicking team to win on a field goal if kicked through the uprights). To prevent this scenario, defending teams will place their punter in the end zone to retrieve the ball and kick it back out of the end zone, preventing that single point from being scored.
Several of the strategies discussed above for American football above can be used in the Canadian code, however rule differences mean that running out the clock much more difficult:
These differences make for radically different endgames if the team with the lead has the ball. In the NFL, a team can run 120 seconds (2 minutes)--and slightly more in the NCAA--off the clock without gaining a first down (assuming that the defensive team is out of timeouts). In the Canadian game, just over 40 seconds can be run off.
A fumble in gridiron football occurs when a player who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed (tackled), scoring, or going out of bounds. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking, punting, or successful handing that results in loss of ball possession by a player.
Gridiron football, also known as North American football, or in North America simply football, is a family of football team sports primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11 players, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, which uses 12 players, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include arena football, flag football and amateur games such as touch and street football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, high school, semi-professional, and amateur levels.
A down is a period in which a play transpires in gridiron football. The down is a distinguishing characteristic of the game compared to other codes of football, but is synonymous with a "tackle" in rugby league. The team in possession of the football has a limited number of downs to advance ten yards or more towards their opponent's goal line. If they fail to advance that far, possession of the ball is turned over to the other team. In most situations, if a team reaches their final down they will punt to their opponent, which forces their opponent to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in range, they might instead attempt to score a field goal.
American and Canadian football are gridiron codes of football that are very similar; both have their origins in rugby football, but some key differences exist between the two codes.
United Indoor Football (UIF) was an indoor football league in the United States that operated from 2005 to 2008. Ten owners from the National Indoor Football League, including one expansion and two from arenafootball2 (af2) took their franchises and formed their own league. The league was based in Omaha, Nebraska.
In sports, a time-out or timeout is a halt in the play. This allows the coaches of either team to communicate with the team, e.g., to determine strategy or inspire morale, as well as to stop the game clock. Time-outs are usually called by coaches or players, although for some sports, TV timeouts are called to allow media to air commercial breaks. Teams usually call timeouts at strategically important points in the match, or to avoid the team being called for a delay of game-type violation, such as the five-second rule in basketball.
Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.
Gameplay in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.
A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, scores a touchdown, or the play is otherwise ruled dead. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.
In sports, running out the clock is the practice of a winning team allowing the clock to expire through a series of preselected plays, either to preserve a lead or hasten the end of a one-sided contest. Such measures expend time but do not otherwise have a tactical purpose. This is usually done by a team that is winning by a slim margin near the end of a game, in order to reduce the time available for the opposing team to score. Generally, it is the opposite strategy of running up the score.
In American football and Canadian football, a quarterback kneel, also called taking a knee, genuflect offense, kneel-down offense, or victory formation, occurs when the quarterback immediately kneels to the ground, ending the play on contact, after receiving the snap. It is primarily used to run the clock down, either at the end of the first half or the game itself, to preserve a lead. Although it generally results in a loss of a yard and uses up a down, it minimizes the risk of a fumble, which would give the other team a chance at recovering the ball.
In most levels of professional American football, the two-minute warning is a suspension of play that occurs when two minutes remain on the game clock in each half of a game, i.e., near the end of the second and fourth quarters, and overtime. Its effect on play is similar to that of a timeout: the game clock stops and the teams gather to discuss strategy. The suspension of play is two minutes long, the same as the short two-minute intermissions between quarters within each half. Its name reflects its origins as a point in the game where the officials would inform the teams that the half was nearly over, as the official game clock was not displayed in the stadium at the time the two-minute warning was created.
The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.
In gridiron football, a turnover on downs occurs when a team's offense has used all their downs but has not progressed downfield enough to earn another set of downs. The resulting turnover gives possession of the ball to the team currently on defense.
In gridiron football, a penalty is a sanction assessed against a team for a violation of the rules, called a foul. Officials initially signal penalties by tossing a bright yellow colored penalty flag onto the field toward or at the spot of a foul.
In gridiron football, replay review is a method of reviewing a play using cameras at various angles to determine the accuracy of the initial call of the officials. An instant replay can take place in the event of a close or otherwise controversial call, either at the request of a team's head coach or the officials themselves.
In gridiron football, a spike of the ball is a play in which the quarterback intentionally throws the ball at the ground immediately after the snap. Officially an incomplete pass, a spike play stops the clock at the cost of exhausting a down without any gain or loss in yardage. It is principally used when a team is conducting a hurried drive late in a half, and the game clock is running after the previous play. Stopping the clock – particularly when the offense has no timeouts remaining or wishes to conserve timeouts – typically allows the offense more time to plan their next play without losing scarce game clock time.
In gridiron football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.
NFL Football is a sports video game developed by Mattel and released for its Intellivision video game system in 1979. The players each control a football team competing in a standard four-quarter game. Like Mattel's other sports video games, NFL Football did not use any official National Football League team names or player names, even though Mattel obtained a license from the NFL and used the league's logo in its box art. NFL Football has been cited as the first football video game to have a playbook.