Hypothetical: Rule Change Regarding Penalties at the End of the Half

Submitted by IncrediblySTIFF on November 2nd, 2016 at 5:16 PM

This came up in a discussion with my father during the end of the first half.  Michigan threw a fade into the endzone with no timeouts, there was pass interference, and then Michigan kicked a field goal.

From the UFR:


Obligatory quick fade to the endzone with no TOs. MSU sends a safety blitz for some reason so this is one on one. Ball is just beyond Darboh and he can only stab at it with one hand because the DB has grabbed the other one. He draws a chintz PI call(refs +2). (CA, 1, protection 2/2)



Sorry for quality, I'm no Ace.


TL;DR edit:

Commit the penalty here on defense everytime.  With ten seconds, it is unlikely that Michigan has a chance to run 2 more plays (1 more shot at the endzone, 1 field goal).
Even if time would have expired here, prevent the touchdown, Michigan is left with a free play to kick their field goal.

Like a breakaway in basketball, better to foul them and make them try again then give them points, especially since were talking about 6 points for a touchdown and 3 for a fieldgoal.



November 2nd, 2016 at 5:29 PM ^

if a penalty occurs in the last 30 seconds, should you reset the clock to the moment at which the penalty occured?

in this instance, the penalty occured at the 6 second mark, but the play continued and ran two more seconds off the clock. so since the penalty occurred in the last 30 seconds, should you reset the game clock to 6 seconds?

Edit: I guess that's not what he is suggesting. He's suggesting should you add on a free play for a penalty occurring in the last 10 seconds. I think it's a novel idea, and my hot take says yes, in this instance OP is correct that strategically you should take this penalty every time because a team will settle for a fg as there is no time to take another shot at the end zone.


November 2nd, 2016 at 5:56 PM ^

Makes more sense now. Thanks for teamwork clarification.

I tend to agree OP now that I understand better. Not completely convinced though... it could be a major game changer in some cases where the defense took a penalty "in the normal course of play". What I mean is the play results in a legit penalty but it's not an "intentional foul" in basketball terms.

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Monocle Smile

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:28 PM ^

He's asking if they should do weird things and add time to the game clock upon defensive penalties towards the end of the game. That's really the only "change" you could make here.

I guess you could do what Tai says above, but that's a bit dodgy...how would you know when the penalty occurs? Is this going to turn into a hockey-esque "intent to blow the whistle?" I doubt you could find a defined moment for the commission of a host of penalties.


November 2nd, 2016 at 5:29 PM ^

You are right,  you might as well committ defensive penalties if you are beaten the last play of the half.  When the ball is placed on the 16 or out

However, some PI was risky, since if you place the ball at the 2 at a Pi in the end zone, there's a chance the team goes for it.  Even with 6 seconds or whatever.

Simple solution is to add the time back on the clock  back to the previous play.  So the  defensive penalty is yardage and time.


November 2nd, 2016 at 5:34 PM ^

I agree, but I bet 75% of coaches would take a field goal for 3 over a 2 yard play for 6.  

I base that on the fact that teams regularly kick extra points from the 2 yard line instead of trying to double their point output with a 1 off for a TD.  The math is better for the field goal vs touchdown, but it is still pretty much 1 point vs 2 points


November 2nd, 2016 at 8:53 PM ^

NCAA has the 2 pointer from the 3 and I said the ball is placed at the 2, I was wrong:  It's the 1 for PI in the endzone.

I'm sure it woud mean a lot of strategy.  But if I was a coach, I definitely wouldn't teach that for that fear unless you knew you were beat.  Which in the NCAA, is good strategy anytime.

It's such a specialized incident, I don't know whether its worth a rule change.  Resetting the clock would be easy enough, I'm surprised the NFL hasn't done it already.


November 2nd, 2016 at 5:32 PM ^

As it is now, it's always better to commit PI in college if it will save a TD, regardless of how much time is on the clock..  That's why it's a spot foul in the NFL - otherwise you'd be an idiot not to take 15yds in exchange for 6pts.  I agree regarding the play in the state game, but that's not a very common situation.


November 2nd, 2016 at 5:38 PM ^

Simple solution: Accepted defensive penalties in the final 30 seconds of the half reset the clock to the time when the snap occurred during the prior play.

South Bend Wolverine

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:43 PM ^

I mean, we kinda already do this with offenses, just in reverse.  You could theoretically game the system by commiting a penalty to stop the clock, so we instituted the whole "ten second run-off" thing.  This would just be the same thing in reverse.  Defenses gaming the system get hit with a ten-second addition.


November 2nd, 2016 at 6:10 PM ^

If I trusted college refs above 0% the quick fix would be to adopt NFL PI rules. However, I don't trust college or NFL refs more than I would a woman with a bulge, so there is no easy answer. Solution: cut out a portion of college football coach and conference commissioners salaries to pay for legitimate football referees and then adopt NFL rules for PI

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November 2nd, 2016 at 6:16 PM ^

Later in the game when we got called for pass interference in the end zone the ball was spotted at the 2, why wasn't that the case here? Is it when the los is within the 15 that it gets placed at the 2?

Mr Miggle

November 2nd, 2016 at 6:28 PM ^

If I understand correctly, the circumstances when the defense benefits from committing that kind of penalty are:

When there is enough time left for the offense to run one play, but not two. A very narrow window. And the penalty does not make converting a FG substantially more likely and the score is such that kicking a FG is a real option. Or taking the penalty is the right play regardless of the clock.

So in order to keep defenders from gaming the rules we're going to add extra punishment for a normal play. We're also giving even more significance to a ref's judgment call. It's inevitably going to be applied more broadly, where there was no advantage in trying to game the clock.

Sometimes it is smart to commit a penalty. Not just PI, but a hold to save your QB, delay of game, intentional grounding, etc. That won't ever change, so why not let it be part of the strategy of the game?


November 2nd, 2016 at 6:34 PM ^

Of the game, I told the guy next to me that we should PI and hold on every play eluntip there was no time left, then run an untimed down and walk away drama free. Sure, if we did this then no 2-pt Peppers fun, but it's the safer bet when you're ahead and time is your enemy.


November 2nd, 2016 at 7:05 PM ^

It's funny you bring this up. When they play happened I said to my buddy with the current rules why not just have every DB just tackle every eligible WR the moment they think they might be beat? Seems like a no-brainer. I would love to see a rule to put the time back on the clock.


November 2nd, 2016 at 8:22 PM ^

I've always thought that under two minutes in the 2nd/4th quarter, teams should be penalized seconds instead of yards to prevent exactly this. Because if you're a team on defense, you won't care about giving up 15 yards if it ends the two minute drill, but if a defensive penalty puts 15 seconds back on the clock, all of a sudden the team on defense has to defend two more plays. Same thing with offense but the other way. 


November 2nd, 2016 at 8:34 PM ^

I don't like the idea of putting time on the clock. Maybe any defensive penalty in the final 15 seconds in either half would afford the offense the option of an untimed down.


November 3rd, 2016 at 5:54 AM ^

Referees have the discretion to take extraordinary measures if a penalty is blatantly unsportsmanlike.  If they do it twice in a row, then yeah I could see a ref putting time back on the clock or even awarding the touchdown if they do it like 5 times.  


But in this case, that was a legit play, pass interference happens and in a similar play the defense makes that penalty everytime just to stop a touchdown, not just because of the time.



November 3rd, 2016 at 7:58 AM ^

Under 2 min left in a game (could be less time, but thinking 2min drill and everything) a DPI should be a spot foul. If the penalty was in the endzone then the ball should be placed at the one. A DPI or OPI penalty within the final 2 min of the game should be reviewable. 

Placing the ball at the spot of the foul is good to prevent Defenses who are relying on 15 yard penalties and wasting time just to prevent the offesnse from making plays. The ability to review these calls takes the weight off the refs' shoulders. The penalties are automatically reviewed by the booth just like they do with TDs. I do think this will slow the game down a bit, and especially on drives carrying a ton of momentum. I also think this could create games where a lot more PI's are called late in the, but I also think for most games it won't change much.

Denard P. Woodson

November 3rd, 2016 at 9:36 AM ^

I've thought of that scenerio many times while watching the end of a first half or at the end of a game.  

If you are up by 3 with 8-12 seconds and let's say the opposing team is 1st and goal from the 10.  The defense should simply just hold every receiver.  After the penalty, the opponant will have to attempt the FG from the 5, since only 1-4 seconds will be left.  In this case, the defense has effectivly stolen away the offenses' free shot at the endzone.

I've never seen this philosophy used before in a game though. If teams did this routinely, maybe they would need a rule that defensive penalties in the last 30 seonds enforce the yardage AND resets the clock to what it was at the snap of the previous play.

This "hold um all" play will happen sometime, count on it.  

When it does, sports radio will spend a week fawniing over the coach, telling you how brilliant he is.


November 3rd, 2016 at 1:54 PM ^

The way the rule is currently written, this is exactly what I think we should have done at the end of the game. When MSU scored that last TD, just bear hug all their receivers, accept the PI and repeat until no time left. Then there really is 0 chance of a fluke on the kick-off because there is no kick-off. I seem to remember someone else posting something similar above a "Polish Defensive" where you put 14 guys in on D and do this, knowing you are just trying to eat clock.