The NFL is notorious for making changes to its rules and procedures on a reactive basis, after a specific bad outcome illustrates the need for change.
Another area in which change is necessary was demonstrated on Saturday night, when the Ravens avoided a delay of game penalty that would have wiped out a significant gain on the game-winning drive.
Several readers who are much smarter than me (that ain’t sayin’ much — after all, I went to law school where Pacman went to college) have made a great suggestion.
Why not put a really loud buzzer on the play clock, like in basketball? 
At a minimum, pay someone $250 a game to be responsible for blowing a really loud whistle the instant the clock gets to zero.
In a game that strives to be precise, the notion that NFL teams get a vague extra second or so after the play clock strikes zero leads to inconsistent results. 
If the ball isn’t snapped by the instant the play clock shows zero, the action should be stopped and a penalty should be administered.
[UPDATE:  Here’s the video, courtesy of Robert Littal of BlackSportsOnline.com.]



  1. No, they don’t need a buzzer. An NFL Stadium is much larger than in the NBA and the crowds are much louder. The technology is out there that the Ref can wear a pair of special glasses that has a HUD (Heads Up Display) built in. The play clock could be displayed in his HUD. Then he could keep his eyes on the players and still see the HUD counting down the play clock.
    And since we’re talking about technology, the ball needs a GPS device placed inside it and the field needs to be lined with GPS so we can see exactly when a player gets a first down or touchdown.

  2. You really went to law school where Pacman went to school??? LOL Yeah but did he graduate? Did you?

  3. That actually is a really good idea. Aren’t the refs wearing headsets anyway? They could even have one ref that is hooked up to a system similar to the play calling system the QBs and Defense have to receive plays. If they hear a buzzer go off for the clock then blow the whistle.

  4. I’m a big Baltimore fan, but I feel like all the Tennessee fans do have a right to be mad about some of what went on today.
    You guys deserve a Super Bowl next year.

  5. As long as as both teams are afforded the same leniency with regard to play clock it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game. What does, it is turning the ball over three times inside your opponent’s 30.

  6. they wont’ do that. that would mean that they would actually HAVE to call it on the Colts. The Colts constantly snap the ball after the clock has reached 0, multiple times a game and it’s never called on them.
    speaking of Colts, it’s funny how another team that whines about the rules until someone can change them Titans (w/ Fischer) go 1 and done.
    typical Losers. You can’t win on your own so you beg for the rules to be changed……..and then you still can’t win.
    That joke of a franchise will never be a dynasty.

  7. 5th article on the Ravens/Titans game, and no mentioning the 3 turnovers/2 fumbled snaps/12 penalty sloppy performance by the Titans? Seriously?

  8. The buzzer would create more of a problem. The buzzer sounds .0001 seconds after a ball has been snapped and people give up on the plays. Coaches would complain because someone would get burnt for a long play and then you would be complaining about the buzzer messing up games.
    Any suggestion will create another problem. Football is a game of winning without letting the little mistakes cost you. A blown delay of game penalty didn’t cause the Titans to lose. Turnovers and injuries did.

  9. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…WRONG…time we got real, full time officials. Not part time amateurs!

  10. The back judge should have something like Chili’s has when you’re waiting for a table. Give him something that will vibrate when the clock hits zero. That way he won’t have to look at the scoreboard clock, look at the snap, look at the clock etc.. When it vibrates, you blow your freaking whistle.

  11. Or just have red numbers below ZERO (negative seconds) and keep Yellow as normal..

  12. Just because the play clock shows :00 doesn’t mean that’s it at zero. It doesn’t show tenths of a second, so there’s actually nearly a second after it shows :00 before the clock has technically run out.

  13. I have been saying that all year. I have to agree that was way beyond expired. That has gone against us this year as well. I sat at the stadium and watched other QB’s get extra time on us. It is not the first time that has happened.
    That was a great game. My hat is off to Kerry Collins. Played way better than I thought he would against Baltimore’s D!

  14. The officials definitely need to do a better job all around. I’m a Ravens fan and I’m not happy with them missing that delay of game. Now, I’m also not happy with them NEVER calling holding on the Titans o-line who pretty much climbed Trevor Pryce like a rope all game.

  15. It was a horrible call, BUT this has happened to us ALL season!!! In the first meeting against the Titans, that non-existing roughing the passer in the final drive. Twice in the 2nd Pitt game: the 3rd down spot which was reviewed and still upheld when the announcers were saying it was a HORRIBLE call, and on the same drive another 3rd down conversion, the play clock went to zero for about 2 seconds before the snap. This was some much deserved KARMA.

  16. I don’t know about the buzzer idea but replacing anyone at CBS that had anything to do with the TV production and announcing should get fired or retired. What a boring telecast with way to may missed events during the game. The very first kicjoff had a penalty and there was no replay. I wanted to see how the refs were going to call the game and that was a wasted oportunity for CBS to show us.
    Does anyone else feel Dan D is worthless???

  17. @VGB-
    While the idea of having the refs where a HUD is a good one, having a GPS unit inside of the ball would not be very helpful. The ability to track an object accurately within a few inches is only available to the army. Civilian GPS can only track within a few yards accurately. And as we know, football is a game of inches.

  18. TO juicey…. just because the titans made some mistakes doesnt mean the refs are allowed to take the game into their own hands.
    Its time to give Ed Hocluli a pass after this debacle.

  19. Jonki…or Joki?….two full seconds ran after zero…now you’re not a rat fan by some chance, eh?

  20. I agree 100% on the buzzer thing. When flags get thrown for delay of games is pretty inconsistent.

  21. There’s already a replay official in the booth doing nothing for more than 90% of the game. Even better, he already has a buzzer system that allows him to communicate with an official on the field. So why not put him to work watching the play clock. He can buzz down as soon as it hits zero. The line judge (or head linesman) does the same thing he is trained to do inside of the two minute warning. If he gets buzzed and the ball is not yet snapped, blow the whistle.

  22. Yes, that’s exactly what we need. A loud buzzer that goes off when the play clock hits zero, regardless of whether or not the ball has already been snapped. Or even better, some bozo with a “really loud whistle” who blows it at zero without checking to see if the play has started first, thoroughly fudging up the players.
    Here’s a better idea–let’s accept that officials are human beings, and as such, they don’t have .00000000001 second reaction times. That wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the play clock hit zero without a flag, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. If anything, why not make penalties (or the lack thereof) reviewable, so that the opposing coach can throw a red flag and say “WTF? The play clock was on goose-eggs for a second or so before the play began!”

  23. jonk1982 says:
    January 10th, 2009 at 8:34 pm
    Just because the play clock shows :00 doesn’t mean that’s it at zero. It doesn’t show tenths of a second, so there’s actually nearly a second after it shows :00 before the clock has technically run out
    That would be a big fat no. There is a one second pause between 01 and 00. That is one second. Your math gives it two seconds. When a countdown clock reaches zero, time is up.

  24. “Why not put a really loud buzzer on the play clock, like in basketball?
    At a minimum, pay someone $250 a game to be responsible for blowing a really loud whistle the instant the clock gets to zero.”
    Or, we could just accept the fact that refs aren’t perfect and leave things the way they are. If you seriously think that Baltimore won the game off of one blown call, or that this was the only penalty that went unpunished, then I want what you’re smoking.
    There was missed calls throughout the game, on both sides of the ball. Missed calls are a reality of football, especially this year. The Titans really did not deserve to win the game after playing the way they did, and the fact that they turned the ball over 5 times while Baltimore did not had more to do with them losing than one freaking delay of game penalty.

  25. Precise? After a first down some old man with a stick who is at least 6 feet off the field and at least 25 yards from the ball “eyeballs” the placement of his stick. Then to determine whether or not a first down has been made they measure with a chain on a stick. This is not too precise.
    As to the notion of full-time officials what are these guys to do? I am a referee instructor (not for the NFL though) and I can tell you that you can teach the rules of any sport in the classroom but to learn refereeing you have to do it on the field, the court, the ice, etc. It takes hundreds or thousands of repetitions at full game speed to make a good official. Rarely, but occasionally, do you see an NFL official misapply a rule (see Polomalu v Colts 2005; Polomalu v Chargers 2008) [hey, is there a pattern here?]. But 99% of the calls fans don’t like are judgement calls, made at full-speed, sometimes screened by 6’5″ 300 pound players, and without the benefit of super slo-mo high def overhead cameras. Until the league plays year round simply having refs be full-time and study more will not make them better.

  26. There’s no way the NFL will add a buzzer for delay of game or some hardware to footballs to get proper yardage (not to mention that this would solve the whole does the ball hit the ground question). Nope, they won’t do it, because doing so would make it harder to job games.

  27. @Tunderbolt: So are you saying you think it’s acceptable for a ref to miss a delay of game call in a situation where the ball was snapped a full second after the clock hits zero? Don’t get me wrong, I think the buzzer is a horrible idea, but I also think accepting this type of thing as you suggest is just as horrible.
    I’m certainly willing to accept the “human factor” when it comes to refereeing, but there’s no excuse for missing this because, one, it’s pre-snap and the official should be able to give it his full attention, and two, it was a full second late.
    Not acceptable. And I’m not a Titans fan, BTW.

  28. Chaotica,
    When the clock becomes :01, it’s actually :01.99. When it turns to :00, it’s actually :00.99.
    I didn’t mean that, in this instance today, the clock didn’t expire. It probably did. My point is that seeing :00 doesn’t mean that the clock has expired. This is why game clocks show tenths of a second. Why don’t play clocks?

  29. jonk1982 makes good point about play clocks showing tenths of a second, but in the Titan/Ravens game though it was easy to count “one one thousand two” after the clock hit 0:00. There should have been a flag.
    Probably wouldn’t have won Tenn the game, but it would have been a by the rules call.

  30. jonk1982 says:
    January 10th, 2009 at 9:56 pm
    When the clock becomes :01, it’s actually :01.99. When it turns to :00, it’s actually :00.99.
    No, it’s not. When a countdown clock starts there is a one second pause before it changes to the next number. When a quarter starts at 15:00 minutes the next number you see is 14.59 after a one second pause, it is NOT starting at 15.00.99.

  31. The idea of a buzzer or a whistle is definitely a good idea. But the Titans should not use this incident as an excuse because they had plenty of chances to win — and failed.

  32. I’m not sure how this missed call really affected the game anyway. There was no flag thrown and the play proceeded. The Titans were playing defense just like any other play and Flacco completed the pass to Heap well beyond the 1st down mark (at least 5 yards beyond). If the flag was thrown, the play would not have taken place but would likely have been called anyway on the succeeding play and, if completed, would have still been a 1st down from 5 yards further back. If the Titans “took the play off” b/c they expected the penalty, that’s their fault. You play until the wistle blows regardless of the laundry on the field.
    Part of the game is the work of the officials. The Ravens were on the losing end of lots of calls this season and we had to suck it up and take the loss. I expect that Titans fans will complain (I know we did) but it’s part of the game.

  33. Of course it’s not starting at 15:00.99. It’s starting, more or less, at 14:59.99. When the clock displays 0:00, it’s 0:00.99. It still has 99 hundreds of a second to burn off until it’s actually zero. Under your theory of time, why would any sport show tenths (or hundredths) of a second on their clocks? They do…except football. My point is: play clocks should display tenths of a second. That way we would be debating about 00.1 — a much more precise debate.

  34. The loud basketball-type buzzer could also go off after missed field goals, just for the hell of it.

  35. Give the Refs a vibrating timer that aligns it self with the playclock so when it goes off they instinctively throw the flag. The time it takes for a replay official to buzz down and tell the ref the clock expired a play can be ran before the ref can stop it.

  36. A delay of game penalty would not have guaranteed Tennessee a win, as evidenced by the fact that Tennessee did have a chance to move the ball back down the field and they still didn’t score. The game may have went into OT, but I’m pretty confident it would have ended the same way, given how poorly Tennessee was playing tonight.
    A buzzer is a horrible idea, for reasons that others have already mentioned. It’s time for everyone to get over it and get on with their lives.
    Oh, and the idea of football being an “accurate” game is absolutely ridiculous. Technology has improved to give us replay, more angles, and high def, and it gives people the impression that there are definitive calls in football. There aren’t, that’s just the nature of the game. The only thing you can do about it is get pissed, and then get over it.

  37. I hate to admit it but I agree with BucForce; something unobtrusive like a buzzer or pager synced with the clock that goes of immediately in the refs pocket would be ideal. It does seem like it’s been a little haphazard on enforcement this year. Not saying it was the difference in the game at all, Titan’s didn’t deserve to win with all the errors but bad officiating should be corrected.

  38. yoyo says:
    Do either of these teams scare anyone?
    Considering the Titans just completely OWNED your Steelers on a whole other level just a couple weeks ago…. ummm yeah? We just beat the team that straight pimp slapped you and stomped all over your piss rag!!! I’d say some respect is due.

  39. put an electric shock buzzer in the refs pocket, that way whenever it goes off he’ll be pissed and will call it. i think sometimes the ref is just not wanting to throw a flag when its ‘really really close’
    I also think that on every delay of game penalty, the offending team should have the option of wiping it out with a TO if they have one remaining.

  40. I’m not sure why this is so difficult to understand, it’s not rocket science. When a clock starts there is a one, count it, one second delay before it changes to the next number. Zero means zero, not zero + .5.

  41. jonk1982 says:
    January 10th, 2009 at 9:56 pm
    When the clock becomes :01, it’s actually :01.99. When it turns to :00, it’s actually :00.99.
    I’m guessing the refs are instructed to call delay of game when the clock shows zeroes…and not instructed to “just estimate another ninety-nine hundredths of a second before you blow the whistle for that penalty.”

  42. Had the refs called the correct call, a 23 yard completion would have been wiped out on the winning drive.
    Wake up NFL…this has to be fixed. That was cheating the Titans, plain and simple.

  43. So, then, why do other sports with clocks use tenths of seconds when the clock is approaching zero?

  44. i’ve finally started to calm down and grasp the insanity that took place in that amazing game, and i wanna sincerely apologize to the Titans’ fans. We’ve had very similar calls go against us and decide the outcome of games a few times this year and it just really sucks beyond words. Trust me, we know how you feel. You guys played an absolutely amazing game, and i have nothing but the greatest respect for your team. For whatever it’s worth, i’m genuinely sympathetic for your loss.
    Now only if Steelers’ fans would admit and acknowledge when questionable calls win games for them….That’d be the day. But i guess that’s what sets us a part… Intellect, and Class.

  45. I feel for the Titans fans, I really do. Still, this would be a moot point if the Titans hadn’t turned the ball over in scoring range so many times. The missed FG attempt didn’t help either, but that was from pretty far out.
    In the end, it wasn’t a blown call that cost them the game, it was sloppy play, when it counted the most.

  46. I agree with the buzzer sounding..maybe in some way have it connected to one of the down markers or similarly moved up and down the field..so that it will be around the line of scrimmage. And don’t get officials involved..the buzzer goes off automatically…They play is run..the instant replay people who HAVE it there with the same timer can look at to see if it’s a penalty or not and take care of that. Is a buzzer distracting? Yes, but it will be neutral and will happen automatically.
    I also agree about getting technology involved in large ways..THAT is needed on many fronts and the poor officials NEED that. I think more so than being full time…although I DO think drilling them and making them watch films as a group and further defining what is illegal and legal would also hope for. N
    Now, there is a wide variable in what a penalty is..take a look at the Miami-KC game and the hit on Pennington by Tyler. That was even less of a hit than many I have seen..flagged for a penalty. Pollard did teh same thing to Brady in week one..teh LEAGUE reviewed it…no penalyu. There has to be a LOT more consistency.

  47. I think instead of a buzzer (that couldn’t be heard) or a whistle that would stop plays that might have made it “just in time”… perhaps the use of a specifically colored strobe light at either endzone or on/near the yardmarkers. I’ve always thought the Cowboys seem to get an extra second or so with delay of game penalties but they never get called.

  48. @Bmore styles: That missed 5-yard penalty did not cost the Titans the game. If you’re going to look for one facet of the game to pin it on, then it was the turnover ratio. Baltimore won because they made more key plays (like forcing a turnover when the Titans are getting ready to score).
    After the 2nd Steelers game, Ray Lewis was questioned about the Holmes TD. He flat out said that the call did not cost them the game (so I assume you disagree with Ray on this one). You should be thankful to have a leader like that on your team, because the minute a team starts adopting the attitude you have about these things, they’re done. I’m totally convinced of that, and I’ve seen it many times. When the players or coaches get caught up in the refereeing, they collapse.
    The Ravens won. The Ravens deserved to win. So stop being an embarrassment to your team and acting like a goof by apologizing to the Titans just because the Steelers fans didn’t apologize to you on a questionable call that even the leader of your team admitted didn’t affect the outcome of the game.

  49. jonk1982 says:
    January 11th, 2009 at 2:55 am
    So, then, why do other sports with clocks use tenths of seconds when the clock is approaching zero?
    I’m not sure which other sports you’re talking about specifically, but I know the NBA shot clock doesn’t show tenths of a second. Bottom line, this isn’t other sports, and when the play clock shows 00 in the NFL, it is supposed to result in a delay of game penalty.

  50. jonk1982 says:
    January 11th, 2009 at 2:55 am
    So, then, why do other sports with clocks use tenths of seconds when the clock is approaching zero?
    The NBA uses it because they feel it’s impossible to get a shot off with 3/10ths (maybe 2, not sure) of a second left. Their clocks change immediately to show the 1/10ths so when goes from 1 to zero the tenths show the one second delay until it reaches zero. The NFL’s clocks don’t change until that one second has passed.
    That being said, the NFL doesn’t need 10ths, it just needs a vibrating timer on the refs wrist so he doesn’t need to look at the clock to know when time is up.

  51. The problem is you can’t conflate the clock you see on your screen at home with the actually gameglock. Remember, there is an official timekeeper and official mechanisms at work to be monitoring this.
    I’m not saying its a good call; its very questionable.
    I’m just not going to say that the call cost them the game or even that is was a BAD call, because the clock we see at home isn’t the end all be all.
    Additionally, yes, another comment earlier was correct. Manning and Brady and the top QBs are kings of snapping the ball when the playclock is at or has been at 0 for a bit, but don’t get called.
    For Flacoo to get that consideration once . . . I don’t feel bad.
    Especially when Tennessee lost the turnover battle and killed themselves with pentalties.
    and a 5 yard delay of game penalty is not to say that Flacco couldn’t have executed on 3rd down still. The pass to Heap was a pretty intermediate throw. Who’s to say the playcall even changes?

  52. No offense to all of you, but the buzzer thing really isn’t that good of an idea…it would have to be the most God awful sound in the world to hear it over 70,000 screaming fans.
    A more simple solution is to ALLOW IT TO BE CHALLENGED, even after the play would have taken place obviously. Just allow the coaches to use a challenge that would then make it more fair and we could actually see a challenge won. If the coaching staff is too s.s.s.stupid to recognize, their problem. They were getting hosed already anyway. I think Joe Gibbs got by with using a challenge for 12 men on the field against MN Vikings last year, after the play. How is this any different?

  53. @ mborz:
    It’s called sportsmanship. And i remember how when we had some horrible calls go against us in the Pitt game, Steelers’ fans looked really stupid trying to defend the blatantly horrid calls. I remembered how they were and how stupid i thought they looked for it, and i don’t wanna be like that. We still won!!! I’m not embarrassed for it, but if the situation was flipped, i would want Titans’ fans to at least admit that some calls went there way is all.

  54. Keep It Simple … no buzzers or horns or any of the sort …
    Amend the 30 second play calling rule to 40 seconds.
    If a team takes more than 40 seconds to get off a play, make it a 15 yard penalty for delay of game. That will give everybody a chance, through substitutions, referee positioning, etc., to make a “football play” the true deal, and not a bone of contention as far as the play time clock is concerned.
    It wouldn’t even make a difference in TV time, as the networks could adjust to eliminate one Geico commercial per game to cover it.

  55. In reply to the “heads up display glasses” …
    Most NFL officials need glasses for sure, as they are missing a good game!

  56. @Bmore Styles: I don’t disagree with anything in your latest post, but it’s different from what you said in your first post. Your first post was not about calls going for or against a team, but was instead all about calls deciding a game, and that’s what I take opposition with.
    Here are some of your earlier quotes:
    [We’ve had very similar calls go against us and decide the outcome of games a few times this year and it just really sucks beyond words. Trust me, we know how you feel.]
    [Now only if Steelers’ fans would admit and acknowledge when questionable calls win games for them]
    My entire point is that the calls yesterday didn’t decide that game, just like the calls in the 2nd Ravens / Steelers game didn’t decide that game. You were asking Steelers fans to admit that calls win games for them (and even Ray Lewis disagrees with you in the case that you really care about), you weren’t asking them to admit that calls sometimes go their way.

  57. @ mborz:
    I did kinda word it wrong. The call didn’t win the game for us, but it did assist us. We still deserved this game, and we made the plays when we needed to. Like i said, i’ve seen how Pitt fans react in the face of this sorta stuff and it disgusted me, so i didn’t wanna be like them. The call didn’t win the game for us as i incorrectly implied, but it allowed us to make the plays to win. The non-call didn’t make that great pass by Flacco and that game winning field goal by Stover.

  58. I agree that they need to make a more definitive rule. The “natural” delay allows for too much inconsistency. A buzzer would probably work just fine. That said, the play in question went for 23 yards, not 6. To say that the Titans lost the game because of this is ludicrous, unless you have a crystal ball and could see what the third and seven would have brought. But you can certainly see what happened up to that point that put them in position to need perfection from the referees. The Titans are a great team, but you can’t afford to make mistakes against the Ravens. I can’t wait for WWIII. I just hope they don’t beat each other up too much, because I’ll be wanting who ever wins to represent!

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