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 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. Running a spike play presumes there will be at least one play by the same team immediately afterward, so it would not be done on fourth down.
A spike is not considered intentional grounding if it is done with the quarterback under center and immediately after the snap. No penalty is assessed.
In Canadian football, spike plays are legal but very rare. This is mainly because a final play is always run whenever the game clock expires while the ball is dead, rendering spike plays unnecessary. Also, the offense in Canadian football only receives three downs instead of four.
After scoring a touchdown, players at the professional level often celebrate by spiking the football. In NCAA football, the scoring player is immediately obligated to either leave the ball or return the ball to an official – spiking the ball in this circumstance is illegal and will result in a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Spiking the ball remains legal in the NFL, where it is not interpreted as excessive celebration unless the ball is spiked towards another player on the opposing team. The maneuver is attributed to Homer Jones of the New York Giants in 1965.
Such action is not considered a "spike play" as the ball is dead once the touchdown has been scored. It has no official status.
Former New England Patriots, now Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has been credited in resurrecting the spiking as a touchdown celebration and making it his own. 60 miles per hour (100 km/h) delivering 650 lbs. of force (2,900 N).
In the 1998 Rose Bowl, Ryan Leaf spiked the ball and inadvertently ran the clock out on that play. In the 2012 Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson also ran the clock out on a spike play. In both cases, just before such spike, the clock was stopped with just 2 seconds left (while the sideline chains were being moved for 1st down, the usual procedure when playing under college football rules).
In 2014, Nick Montana spiked the ball on 4th down near the end of the first half of a game between his Tulane University and UCF, resulting in a turnover on downs; he erroneously believed his team had gained a first down.
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 them 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.
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.
In gridiron football, clock management is the manipulation of a game clock and play clock to achieve a desired result, typically near the end of a match. It is analogous to "running out the clock" seen in many sports, and the act of trying to hasten the game's end is often referred to by this term. 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.
The Miracle at the Meadowlands was a fumble recovery by cornerback Herman Edwards of the Philadelphia Eagles that he returned for a touchdown at the end of a November 19, 1978, National Football League (NFL) game against the New York Giants in Giants Stadium. It is considered miraculous because the Giants were ahead 17–12 and could easily have run out the final seconds; they had the ball and the Eagles had no timeouts left. Joe Pisarcik botched an attempt to hand off the football to fullback Larry Csonka. Edwards picked up the dropped ball and ran 26 yards for the winning score.
In American football, the fumblerooski is a trick play in which the football is intentionally and stealthily placed on the ground (fumbled) by an offensive player, usually the quarterback. The offensive team then attempts to distract and confuse the defense by pretending that a ball carrier is running in one direction while another offensive player retrieves the ball from the turf and runs in a different direction, hoping to gain significant yardage before the defense realizes which player is actually carrying the football.
In sports, running out the clock is the practice of a winning team allowing the clock to expire through a series of pre-selected 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.
A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or trickeration, is a play in gridiron football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but also to maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.
In American 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. With the official game clock being displayed prominently in the stadium in modern times, the original purpose of the two-minute warning is no longer necessary, but it has nevertheless evolved into an important reference point in a game. A number of rules change at the two-minute warning, including several relating to the game clock, and the two-minute warning may be an important factor in a team's clock management strategy.
In gridiron football, touchdown celebrations are sometimes performed after the scoring of a touchdown. Individual celebrations have become increasingly complex over time, from simple "spiking" of the football in decades past to the elaborately choreographed displays of the current era.
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 penalty is a sanction called against a team for a violation of the rules, called a foul. Officials initially signal penalties by tossing a bright yellow or orange colored penalty flag onto the field toward or at the spot of a foul. Many penalties result in moving the football toward the offending team's end zone, usually either 5, 10, or 15 yards, depending on the penalty. Most penalties against the defensive team also result in giving the offense an automatic first down, while a few penalties against the offensive team cause them to automatically lose a down. In some cases, depending on the spot of the foul, the ball is moved half the distance to the goal line rather than the usual number of yards, or the defense scores an automatic safety.
Robert James Gronkowski, nicknamed "Gronk", is an American football tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL). He previously played nine seasons for the New England Patriots. He is a four-time Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, and a four-time First Team All-Pro selection, and was selected in the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
The 2011 UCF Knights football team represented the University of Central Florida in the 2011 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights played in the East Division of Conference USA, and played their home games at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The Knights were led by head coach George O'Leary, who was in his eighth season with the team. They finished the season 5–7, 3–5 in C-USA play to finish in a tie for fourth place in the East Division.
The 2014 UCF Knights football team represented the University of Central Florida in the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights were members of the American Athletic Conference, and played their home games at Bright House Networks Stadium on UCF's main campus in Orlando, Florida. The Knights were led by head coach George O'Leary, who was in his eleventh season with the team.
The 2019 UCF Knights football team represented the University of Central Florida (UCF) during the 2019 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights were led by second-year head coach Josh Heupel and played their home games at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida. They competed as members of the East Division of the American Athletic Conference.
The 2020 season was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 45th in the National Football League, their second under head coach Bruce Arians and first with Tom Brady as quarterback. The club improved on their 7–9 record from the previous season by finishing 11–5 and advancing through the playoffs to reach and win Super Bowl LV, despite only having one Pro Bowler.
The 2020 UCF Knights football team represented the University of Central Florida (UCF) during the 2020 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights were led by third-year head coach Josh Heupel and played their home games at Bounce House in Orlando, Florida. They competed as members of the American Athletic Conference. The Knights finished the regular season 6–3 and notably did not have any games of their revised schedule postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.