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If a defense is facing a tough situation with no timeouts left, it is difficult to stop the clock. Your options are very limited - you hope the offense passes and you can bat it down, or you hope you can push your opponent out of bounds.

If you are very close to the goal line, there is little to be lost in terms of yardage, especially compared to what is gained from stopping the clock (namely, more time for your team to score next).

Can you simply line up, encroach, and get a penalty for it?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

No.

Section 7.1 Actions to Conserve Time - Illegal Acts (from the bold section below marked Penalty):

If the action is by the defense, the play clock will be reset to 40 seconds, and the game clock will start on the ready signal, unless the offense chooses to have the clock start on the snap. If the defense has timeouts remaining, it will have the option of using a timeout in lieu of the game clock being started.

The end result of this will be far worse than the play being started. By preventing the snap you could cause an additional 40 seconds to run off the game clock (because the offense may choose to have the clock start at the ready signal).

Additionally, the same document states (7.3):

Article 3 - In the last 40 seconds of either half, if there is a defensive foul prior to the snap while time is in, the half will end, unless the defense has timeouts remaining, or the offense chooses to have the Game Clock start on the snap.

Overall this is an unworkable strategy. Your best bet at this point of the game is to force a turnover or hope there is enough time left for a turnover on downs.

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Interesting. I've always found it odd that the offense has the ability to take loss of down to stop the clock, but the defense has no mirror option. I suspect the option you list was specifically put in place to prevent this exact scenario from happening. –  corsiKa Feb 8 '12 at 20:30

In the National Football League (NFL), there is a potential 40-second runoff of the game clock inside of one minute of either half

RULE 4, SECTION 7, ARTICLE 1. a. If the action is by the defense, the play clock will be reset to 40 seconds, and the game clock will start on the ready signal, unless the offense chooses to have the clock start on the snap. If the defense has timeouts remaining, it will have the option of using a timeout in lieu of the game clock being started.

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/public/image/rulebook/pdfs/7_Rule4_Game_Timing.pdf (page 20).

In the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), there is an automatic 10-second run-off from the game clock.

RULE 3, SECTION 4, ARTICLE 4. a. With the game clock running and less than one minute remaining in either half, if a player of either team commits a foul that causes the clock to stop, the officials may subtract 10 seconds from the game clock at the option of the offended team. The fouls that fall in this category include but are not limited to: Any foul that prevents the snap (e.g., false start, encroachment, defensive offside by contact in the neutral zone, etc.);

http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/FR12.pdf (page FR-52).

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As the sport gets less professional, it appears the consequence for it is less. Would be it a fair assessment that it approaches no consequence at the varsity and junior varsity levels? –  corsiKa Feb 8 '12 at 20:43
    
@corsiKa not necessarily the college rule was enacted in reaction to an event that happened in the music city bowl a couple of years ago. This type of rule tends to be reactionary and added when it becomes an issue –  wax eagle Feb 9 '12 at 17:44

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