• Your team is up by 5.
  • There are 5 minutes remaining in the game.
  • It is 4th down and goal-to-go from the opponent’s 40 yard line (you’ve had a lot of penalties).
  • Your punter can guarantee hang-time of 10 seconds, but his minimum distance is 41 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • Your placekicker has been in the league for 20 years and has never successfully kicked a field goal longer than 50 yards, after having tried 100 times.

In order to provide room for your punter, you take a delay-of-game penalty in order to push the line of scrimmage back to the opponent’s 45.

Question: can the defense decline the penalty? If yes, can you take another delay-of-game penalty? What would cause you to ever snap the ball on time?

  • If your punter is incapable of punting less than 40 yards, he's getting you enough field position normally that you probably should just take the touchback here...
    – Joe
    Nov 24, 2015 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


Rule 14 Section 6 Article 4

"When a 40/25-second penalty occurs prior to the snap, the defensive team may decline a distance penalty, in which case the down is replayed from the previous spot."

Rule 4 Section 7 Note 1:

"Two successive delay penalties during the same down, is unsportsmanlike conduct [...]"

Rule 12 Section 3 Article 1

"There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship. Such acts specifically include, among others: [...] o. Two successive delay-of-game penalties during the same down. [...]

Penalty: For unsportsmanlike conduct (for (j) through (v)): Loss of 15 yards from: a)the succeeding spot if the ball is dead [...]"

Source: http://operations.nfl.com/the-rules/2015-nfl-rulebook

  • 1
    Ah but the defense could still decline the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
    – Daniel
    Nov 24, 2015 at 13:37
  • I think the additional penalty wouldn't really help there: 55 yards back now, you're probably ending up with them at the 20 anyway.
    – Joe
    Nov 24, 2015 at 15:46
  • That's what I was thinking, too, the defense would willingly accept that 15-yard penalty.
    – jsf80238
    Nov 25, 2015 at 5:34

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