NFL: Two simple rules question

A lot depends on the team & the quarterback, in that regard, of course. Yesterday, the Patriots were raining points down on the vaunted Denver defense partly by running a hurry-up no-huddle offense through most of the first half. It was bedeviling not only the Broncos, but the announcers, who kept having to cut off their commentary and slow-motion replay of the previous play because Tom Brady was already under center for the next one. :slight_smile:

Mostly the game. Commercial breaks are done when there is temporary play stoppage from a time out, change of possession, or injury. The exception is the two-minute warning that occurs near the end of each half, which is pretty much a pure television timeout. The networks have a very good handle on how many of these play stoppages there will be in a typical game; the obviously need some buffer for random variation, and you’ll sometimes see the broadcast continue during stoppages late in a game when the network has already shown all the commercials that have been paid for.

Nope–that’s a safety, two points for the other team and you have to do a free kick & give them back the ball. It’s also a safety if you receive a kick or intercept a ball in the end zone, step out & then back in and down it. I don’t remember seeing your situation in an actual game, but this has happened a couple of times by accident.

TV timeouts are announced on the field by a guy wearing big giant orange mitts. He’ll hold his hands up at the appropriate clock stoppage to signal a TV timeout. You’re more likely to see them if you go to a game, but occasionally the cameras will catch them on the sidelines dodging a player.

As far as interceptions in the field going into the end zone. If the defensive player’s original momentum making the catch carries him into the endzone, then a touchback is called. If he crosses back into the endzone on his own, then it’s a safety. If a member of the offense pushes him back into the endzone, forward progress would be awarded.

This is true, however there is a special rule where if you go into the end zone on your existing momentum that you had in the act of getting the INT, then it’s a touchback and not a safety. People new to watching the game have trouble grokking the rule and think that such a play is supposed to be a safety, and people familiar with the game are so used to it that they don’t even think about it. The rule is in place so that a play such as a DB making a diving INT that carries him over the goal line counts as a good defensive play (which common sense says it should) and not a two point penalty (which it would be under the normal safety rule)

However, if possession is established in play before momentum carries the ball across the goal line, it’s not a touchback. Rather, the defense gets the ball at the spot of the interception. (See non-safety example (a))

You’re right, I totally brainfarted that aspect of the rule.

Slightly off topic, but I learned something today! The NFL has their official rulebook online. It’s possible for the offense to score a one-point safety on a PAT try. Since a try is whistled dead as soon as the defense gets possession, it can’t happen with a “tackled in the end zone” safety. But it can happen with the rarer “bat the ball through the end zone and out of bounds” safety. Neat! Sadly, the defense can’t score a safety on a PAT (it would just count as a failed try). That would be fun to see.

And, very technically, it’s not stepping out of the end zone that matters, it’s whether the full length of the ball goes out of the end zone and back in that would cause a safety in that case.

Note that Ray Rice did something similar to this during the Baltimore-Houston game: the interception happened around the 2-yard line, and his momentum took him back into the end zone. But this is clearly different from a decision to retreat into the end zone, and the play was correctly ruled a touchback.

A Packer kick returner (Patrick Lee, IIRC) did just this on a kickoff a few weeks ago. He caught the ball just outside of the end zone, took a half-step back into the end zone, and took a knee. Safety.

Say I receive a pass and am immediately hit backward two yards and out of bounds. What is the result?

A) Clock stopped, ball where I went out of bounds.
B) Clock stopped, ball at forward progress.
C) Clock runs, ball where I went out of bounds.
D) Clock runs, ball at forward progress.

A and D seem like the only two logical options.

If it’s actually an immediate hit, it’s (D). You’ll see this happen in most games (except maybe Denver games this last season).

It’s also a cause for a lot of hair-pulling among fans. You’ll sometimes see a WR fighting for a couple extra inches near the sideline and get pulled backwards and/or out of bounds. The extra inch just isn’t worth the time it took fighting for the yards or the running clock.

Wouldn’t it be (B)? The ball carrier went out of bounds due to his lateral movement (Y axis) to end the play, so the clock stops. He also gets credit for his forward progress (X axis)?

Given the posed situation (“receive a pass and am immediately hit backward two yards and out of bounds”), then (D) is the correct answer. Forward progress was stopped in the field of play. Clock continues to run.

That makes sense.

Possible TD questions, involving the ball crossing the plane of the endzone.

  1. A player catches the ball in bounds on a leap. Before he lands, the DB hits him hard enough, he falls out of bounds. I figure on a normal play, he’d be out-of-bounds. What about in the endzone, with the ball over the plane when caught (yet lands totally out-of-bounds)?

  2. Another player catches the ball in bounds on a leap. Before he lands, the DB hits him low, so both feet land out of bounds. The arms with the ball, however, stay in the endzone. Is it a TD?

  3. A player makes a diving catch and catches the ball out-of-bounds. The ball is clearly out when caught, but both his toes are touching the end zone. Is it a TD?

1a. Perhaps not totally realistic, but what if a DB “carries” the WR out of bounds if the WR hasn’t landed yet? Would the plane of the endzone come into play here?

Where the ball is doesn’t matter…it’s where his feet (or, if not his feet, the first part of his body which touches the ground after he makes the catch) are. Out of bounds.

See above. No catch.

This is the reverse of #1. Again, what matters is what touches the ground at the moment of the catch, and whether it’s in bounds. TD.

If the receiver catches the ball in the air, and gets pushed / carried out of bounds, so that he doesn’t ever touch the ground in bounds, it’s no catch. Again, it doesn’t matter where the ball is where the catch is made – what matters is establishing oneself as being in bounds by landing on the ground.

Note that the rules on this used to be different. Up until perhaps 10 years ago, an official could rule that a player would have caught a ball in bounds if not for being pushed out by a defender, and award a catch. The rules were changed, and now the receiver must land in bounds for it to be ruled a catch, even if he’s being pushed.

If a player, who otherwise would have landed fairly (legally) in the field of play after jumping, is pushed out of bounds by a defender while in the air, it is credited as a catch, including a touchdown in the endzone.

No, as kenobi 65 explained, this used to be the case. But now it is 2 feet (or equivalent)–or no catch.

Scroll down a little bit for an image of a TV Timeout guy, the caption though mentions that the two-minute warning is not the only expected TV timeout:

The force out rule was removed 2 or 3 years ago.