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10-second runoff rule expands by one minute

New for 2017, the NFL is expanding the 10-second runoff rule. This season the 10-second runoff applies after the two-minute warning instead of the last minute of the half.

A 10-second runoff happens when a certain fouls, injuries, and replay situations stop the clock near the end of the half. The runoff keeps the offense from gaining an advantage by stopping the clock via foul or faking injury. The half is over if there are less than 10 seconds left. A runoff is only applied against the offense; the defense cannot incur a 10-second runoff.

The following situations are subject to a run-10, but only if the game clock is running:

  • false start or other snap-killing foul
  • illegal shifts (only when offense has not been set for 1 second)
  • intentional grounding
  • illegal forward pass beyond line of scrimmage
  • backward pass out of bounds
  • delay of game for spiking ball
  • intentional fouls that stop the clock  
  • illegal substitutions
  • “fourth” or subsequent timeout for injury
  • replay reversal that changes a stopped clock to a running clock

The procedure is to ask the defense if it wishes to decline the runoff (except for the replay reversal). If it is accepted, the offense has the option to counter the 10-second runoff if it has an available timeout. In the case of a runoff by a replay reversal, the defense may use a timeout to avoid the run-10. Also, a defense cannot decline a penalty but enforce a runoff.

If the clock is stopped for another reason, then the runoff does not apply.

In these situations, the 10 seconds are taken off the clock by the timekeeper. The referee will inform the quarterback that the game clock will start on the ready-for-play signal. If a timeout is taken or if the defense declines the runoff, the clock starts with the snap. (Exception: an injury runoff that is declined will start on the ready-for-play with the play clock resuming from the point at which it was stopped.)

It only makes sense to have  the 10-second runoff in the last two minutes. Every second is precious after the two-minute warning. A 10-second runoff at 1:50 on the clock is just as important as :15 on the clock.

NFL official huddle at the two-minute warning and remind each other of special rules at the end of the half. This will be another rule to add to the checklist.  

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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2 thoughts on “10-second runoff rule expands by one minute

  1. Do you know if the NFL surveys or gathers feedback from current officials about rule changes? Some, like this one, makes sense. Others seem to be complicated and nearly unenforceable. Getting feedback from current and former officials and possibly the officiating department could help bring a new insight to proposed rule changes.

  2. The part of this rule that mandates a runoff for reviewed plays really needs to be revisited. Especially after the Lions were mugged by what (I hope) was an unintended consequence of this dubious rule, by having the remaining clock runoff and the game ended by the officials after an automatic review that revealed an officiating error. Thus negating a 4th and goal chance from the 1 yard line. Meaning that the Lions, through no fault of their own, or even any choice of their own, were essentially unfairly treated as if they had committed an offensive penalty, and had any chance to decide the game on the field taken away from them by the weird fiat of this rule.

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