NFL has looked at victory formation rule in the past, could look at it again


Greg Schiano’s plan for crashing the victory formation party falls squarely within the rules.  And it’s clear that the rules currently permit a defense to pin their ears back when the quarterback otherwise plans to pin his knee to the turf.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL has considered in the past possibly revising the rules to prevent defenses from teeing off in such situations.  It was determined, however, that it was impossible to draw lines between when the game is truly over from the perspective of a coach or a player.  Though in many respects it’s a “know it when you see it” proposition, in other situations (like when the defense can take the lead or tie the game with one score), the game truly isn’t “over” in the Yogi Berra sense of the word.

And so it’s regarded as a matter of sportsmanship, not a matter of rules.

That doesn’t mean the issue won’t be revisited in 2013, given that any team can submit potential rule changes for consideration.

“There are many plays during the season that get raised by clubs and are submitted for consideration, and this could be one on them,” Falcons president and Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay told PFT by phone on Tuesday afternoon.  “I think it’s been raised before, and it could be raised again.”

Of course, before it ever would be passed, 24 or more owners would have to approve the specific language that would compel a defense to call off the dogs in certain situations.  We doubt that ever will happen, even at a time when the NFL is doing everything it can to remove unnecessary contact from the game, and also to limit some of the contact inherent to the sport.

Even if the chance of forcing a fumble by going hard during a kneel-down play is one in a billion, the chances of it happening if the defense shuts down is zero.  It doesn’t seem fair to take away that opportunity to change a game — even if it doesn’t seem fair to keep playing hard at a time when the offense is merely going through the motions.

75 responses to “NFL has looked at victory formation rule in the past, could look at it again

  1. As long as there’s time on the clock and the game is close… no team should be FORCED to just give up because their opponent has decided to CLAIM victory.

    That’s ridiculous!

    I have an idea… run a play and don’t assume victory!!! How novel.

  2. Offense should try until the end then. Or we may as well implement a ‘mercy rule’ if a team is leading by, say, 4 scores at the start of the 4th. Play until the end, the fans have paid enough to watch the whole game.

  3. Justin Tuck brought up a very good point and exposed the BS that is Greg Schiano. The Bucs didn’t tee off when the Giants kneeled down in the first half. They let Andre Brown walk in for a TD (and would have done it the play earlier had Brown not smartly sat down). So the whole “Play the whole 60 minutes” is bunk.

  4. as a Giants fan I really can’t say Schiano was wrong, but if we ever see Schiano’s team kneeling at the end of the game after this he is a hypocrite. Clean hard football till the end, kneeling at the end is not considered “hard football”.

    So Schiano if your team is in the lead with 1:30 on the clock, you better not kneel the ball, wouldn’t want to show your players you’re a quitter now, right?

  5. Sometimes, teams kneel to end a half. And I’ve seen in those situations teams fake a kneel and go for a long pass to get points before the half.

    What then?

    This is football- you go hard until the clock strikes 0:00.

  6. This is absurd. I have zero issues with what Schiano was having his defense do. It’s a football play so they should, ya know .. play football.

    I remember an Air Force Navy game with Navy leading in the last 30secs and the Air Force NT kept grabbing the Centers hand just at the snap, trying to force a fumble. Of course all he did was force 5 offsides penalties. 🙂

  7. I was glad to see you come down on the side of reason.

    Any rule that would tell the defense that they aren’t allowed to give effort on a play because the offensive went into a certain formation is ludicrous on it’s face. It goes against the very nature of sports.

    And I don’t see why this is a big deal anyway. Just tell you offensive lines to be alert and ready to block.


  8. While we are at it – why is it ok for a QB to spike the ball while behind center to stop the clock. This should be intentional grounding.

  9. Let’s go one step further, enforce the rule but if the offense actually does fumble the ball, without any defense push, and loses it to the defense it does not count because the offense has already “won” the game and the defense must concede defeat….end sarcasm

  10. Run plays until the game ends. Simple as that. If the defense is down by two scores they probably won’t do much but the offense should still be expecting it regardless of the formation. No need for any rule changes.

  11. Changing the rule so that the winning team can end the game early…how convenient for them. That would be even dumber than an 18-game season or a team in London. Which is a bar set pretty high on the dumb scale.

  12. If the opposing team is within a touchdown or less, either run the ball, or be prepared to block when the ball is snapped from the “victory” formation.

  13. Giants O-line got caught with their pants down plain and simple. It wasn’t a cheap shot. It wasn’t unsportsman like. It was playing 4 quarters of football.

    Giants O-line took that play off and let their QB get hit. Next kneel down prepare for the rush instead of taking that play off.

  14. In a one score game, it’s insane to require a team to concede. If you’re worried about injury when the game is all but decided, run a play with your second team offense instead.

  15. If they want to make it a penalty, just limit the situation where it is illegal. For example:

    Less the 2 minutes. The D has no timeouts left and the losing team would need more than one possession to overtake the winning team.

    Otherwise, leave it alone.

  16. Unfortunately, this is a two-sided coin.

    One the one hand, as noted, it seems unfair to allow a winning team to essentially declare the game over.

    On the flip side, if team start taking those plays seriously…you risk an injury on the last play (or two) of a game, when the outcome has 99.999% been decided.

    How would a team feel if they’re starting DE or DT blow a knee on a meaningless play?

  17. Unamerican to have a rule that makes a team give up when theres time on the clock and a potential tying or winning score to result…

  18. If the Giants believed 100% that the game was over and no further mayhem would occur, why did they, and almost all other teams have a player lined up 5 yards behind the quarterback? If they felt 100% sure that the other team would not try and change the outcome of the play then they should not have had to place a safety behind Manning.

  19. jdbar50 says:
    Sep 18, 2012 3:55 PM
    While we are at it – why is it ok for a QB to spike the ball while behind center to stop the clock. This should be intentional grounding.

    It’s not intentional grounding because the tight end is within ten yards.

  20. The Bucs could have tied..plain and simple. Would schiano do that if it was a 10 point game? No way. 8 points or less, you better be ready. Suck it up Giants, protect your bring on Dallas

  21. Easy fix, no kneels…ever. play 60 mins.

    If an offensive player takes a knee intentionally behind the line of scrimmage its an unsportsmanlike conduct call, 15 yard penalty and loss of down…and stops the clock.

    make them play until its over, none of this conceding wins / losses.

  22. The trouble is, if you assume that you can run that play without the opponent teeing off on you, which is what most teams do, you run the risk of getting injured when the opponent does tee off on you.

    On the other hand, if you assume the other team is going to tee off on you, so you tee off on them, basically line up and run the play hard, you run the risk of injuring them when they assume the opposite.

    That’s the problem. And that’s why all the teams need to agree to either run the play hard or not run the play hard, because if there’s a misunderstanding between two teams as to whether the other one is going to run the play hard, someone is going to get injured. Before, there was a gentlemen’s agreement that functioned to prevent misunderstandings and injuries. Without that, there will be injuries.

  23. insanelomein2 says: Sep 18, 2012 3:59 PM

    Herm Edwards – Miracle in the Meadowlands…

    need I say more?

    That was a hand off, not a kneel down.

  24. If I were playing Tampa and had the situation come up to take a knee.

    I’d have my 2 WR run 9 routes and put 7 more points on the board just to get a rise out of Schiano.

  25. LOL @ this possibly becoming a rule. why does player safety have to be appeased with every possible scenario? i have a hard time believing these guys grow up playing organized football all of their lives and still not understand it is a violent sport. when can we just let these men play and not have to worry about an injury? changing the competitive nature of the ending to a game with a rule change is completely embarrassing, and the players should be ashamed of themselves if becomes one. be prepared for anything and you’ll never be caught with your pants down.

  26. Giants fans: Nobody has a problem with the actual act of kneeling the ball. It would not be “hypocritical” for the Bucs to do it. Just be prepared to PLAY! Block, protect, and do. your. job.

    And why do you guys keep bringing up the kneeldown at the half?! It is a completely different scenario. There is an entire half left to be played after that. Last time I checked, there is no time ‘third half’ if one team is down on the scoreboard. What kind of logic goes on in your heads?

    PS: I realize that generalizing all Giants fans like this is not right, but I keep seeing nonsense from many of them.

  27. Victory formation is antiquated. The clock should run out when the math of downs, to time left to timeouts favors the winning team. Instead of forcing viewers to endure those painful moments watching victory formation plays, I’d rather the NFL require a few on-field player interviews during that time. The NFL could also use that time to satisfy their commercial obligations instead of burdening the viewer with commercials after the TD, before the PAT and then again after the kickoff.

    To all the “it’s Unamerican to end the game early” comments…what’s more American than squeezing a few more sheckles out of the added commercial time gained getting rid of unnecessary victory formation plays???

  28. if they want to make a rule, it should be to ban taking a knee. how can the league say a game is over when there is still time on the clock? If they start calling games early, why even play the damn things?

  29. If the Giants would have pressed for another score, Schiano would have complained that the Giants were running up the score on them.

    The victory formation is a gentlemen’s agreement based on the perceived notion of sportsmanship. The perception is that both teams are playing above board until one of them decides to do the opposite.

    This is one of the things that makes sports so interesting.

  30. jimcaldwellsucks says:
    Sep 18, 2012 4:15 PM
    If I were playing Tampa and had the situation come up to take a knee.

    I’d have my 2 WR run 9 routes and put 7 more points on the board just to get a rise out of Schiano.

    Well, considering the Giants took a knee to avoid the risk of a turnover I’d say Tampa Bay would welcome the attempt to pass, because a pick-six is far more likely than a fumble.

    Again, guys, get it through your skulls – the so-called “victory formation” doesn’t exist when the winning team is up by less than two scores. They aren’t kneeling to be nice. They aren’t kneeling to avoid scoring more. They are kneeling to avoid a turnover that could cost them the game.

    Go look up the first Miracle at the Meadowlands, or go ask Phillip Rivers about last year if you don’t believe me.

  31. It is very simple. If you snap the ball you should expect the other team to play until the whistle.

    Why should the formation designed for a potential fumble recovery somehow now mean that the defense has to concede?

  32. reiriza says:
    Sep 18, 2012 3:53 PM
    “as a Giants fan I really can’t say Schiano was wrong, but if we ever see Schiano’s team kneeling at the end of the game after this he is a hypocrite.”

    How would he be a hypocrite? He never said the Giants shouldn’t kneel. He only wanted to try and force a fumble during the kneel down.

    If he wants to kneel with the lead he can. They just need to be prepared for the other team to come across the line of scrimmage.

  33. Fake the knee next time, then rub it in by lighting it up in the end zone,,, hows that Craig ! Then Craig can say its a 60 minute game in his presser !

  34. Ok so what’s the victory formation look like for the defense, when they feel the offense has no chance of coming back and decide to let it be known the game is over?

    Oh, there isn’t one? What do you mean the defense can’t dictate when to make the offense call it quits? Interesting.

  35. There is absolutely no way to govern this…This should be governed by the unwritten codes of the league. Now, Greg Schiano looks like an ass for what he instructed his team to do. That’s the most that can be done..

  36. Lets not forget that it was just a year ago the Giants were faking injuries on D to win the game.

    Now that is arguably cheating if not bush league.

    Don’t whine about the other team really playing when you practice your own deceptive play.

  37. I am a Giants fan and not only have I found nothing wrong with what happened, I don’t like how people make it seem like it has never been done before. I can’t remember exactly where or when but I recall a defensive player on a kneel down formation, launched over the offensive line to hit the QB.

    The Bucs could have forced a fumble, recover it, and then throw one last heave into the endzone. Not trying to pick on anyone, but I wonder if it was perhaps a higher ranked team, how would the reaction be?

  38. Easy answer, the o-line actually needs to block in the victory formation. If the o-line gives the QB time to get down to the ground before the hit then the hit becomes unnecessary roughness.

  39. Remember when the Pats ran up the score the first year they had Moss and guys were complaining how they did not take the knee. You can never please everyone.

  40. Make the victory formation like a fair catch. This would remove any ambiguity, and help prevent injury in the final meaningless minute of a game.

  41. Just treat it the same way as you treat it the rest of the game. If this formation is run the QB is “giving himself up”; just like a slide. So if he gets hit while kneeling down; it’s personal foul defense,15 yards, and the ref runs off the remaining time.

  42. How much different is this, really, from the defenseless player rule?

    Eli gave himself up by kneeling. Play is over and done with. Did the hit occur after his knee touched the ground?

    Would it be better if he were to take the ball and slide, at which time you cant touch him?

    Its probably bad on the O-line since they werent playing to expect it. But at least a little bad on Tampa for doing it. And if it was Tampa trying to win the game, how come not EVERYONE on their D did it? Only looked like a couple people up front.

  43. To all the folks who say that they had all game to win and should not rely on the final few second…

    Remember that the next time your team comes back to win it with no time left on the clock, or they needed a defensive penalty for one last play.

    Think before you judge.

  44. Maybe when Craig is trying to salt a game away someone will blast through and hurt one of his players then and only then can he get back to us on this !

  45. I thought it was a great play. Last time I checked a game was 60 minutes so you play 60 minutes. It’s not like nobody knew that Tampa wasn’t coming on that play they lined up like they were coming and the offense got blasted back because of it. Tom coughlin has zero class and schiano should have slapped toms old a in the mouth for disrespecting him like that.

  46. People who are talking about the QB: That’s not the real issue at hand here. It’s the OL getting hit unexpectedly and even worse: getting hit low.

    The QB was untouched by the defense but knocked back by the O-Line.

    And all the contact in TB game happened before he gave himself up anyways.

  47. Tampa technically within the rules had the right to take a cheap shot after getting waxed for 600 yards and they did. Cheap shot by a sub par team that choked trying to upset the champs.

  48. The real reason teams shouldn’t concede the kneel down is that scenario when there is a few seconds more on the clock than the kneel down will allow for. So the quarterback waits 2-3 seconds before kneeling to make up for that gap.

    I’ve seen Brady do that. Schiano’s call would’ve given his team the ball back in that case.

  49. Forcing defenses to concede defeat would be the same as forcing losing teams on offense to accept defeat and not trying a Hail Mary pass, for example.

    If teams on offense can do anything within their reach to try to win the game, including Hail Mary passes even if it’s just to seek a defensive pass interference, why should the defenses be forced to concede defeat? If the game is not lost for the offense until the clock hits 00:00, why should it be for lost for the defense?

    Coughlin says that they risk injuring players. Maybe he should just not coach a football team, because guess what, Tom? It’s the same risk of injury than in any other snap in the game. No more, no less. It’s a legal play, and it’s playing hard, as opposed to telling your players to fake injury to stop a no-huddle offense.

  50. Whats going to be funny is when this happens to the Bucs and one of the players get hurt Someones going to stand over that player and say thank your couch for that

  51. Kneeling, in itself is a unsportsmanlike play. If it were me making the rules, (Which it obviously isn’t) I would change the rulebook to make it so the winning team, within 2 minutes left In the game, the offense has to make progress to keep the clock running.

    So per say, a team is down 7 with 1:46 left, they should have to move the ball foreward to keep the clock running, plain and simple. That gives the defense the chance to change the game.

    Just my 2 cents

  52. Don’t players fire off the line when QB is going to ground the ball to stop the clock? Sometimes they fake this play yes? I wonder if there has ever been a fake kneel down?! If there was – it would most likely be Belichek – Schiano’s friend.

  53. @mannyfresh209:

    You’re right, he didnt. One could (and I would) argue that he didnt get the CHANCE to do so before being knocked down by his own O-lineman after being pushed by the Tampa D.

    Again, bad on the O-line for not expecting it, but still at least a little bad for Tampa D for doing it.

    Id like to see what happens if TB ends up in the situation to win a game with a kneel. Would they get bent if someone came after them even though they were “victory formation”-ing?

  54. Bottom line, I have no problem with it.

    And obviously not everyone on the Bucs D got the memo, because not all of them did it. As I said before, they were tight because they blew the lead, then Freeman threw the INT to seal it. They were frustrated more than anything else. Wouldn’t call it bush league or anything dirty, just an exhibition of bitter losers, which we all have been at some point.

  55. As much as I want to say it was wrong, I’ve busted on baseball for the unwritten rule crap for years, so it would be hypocritical not to back Schiano on this one.

  56. Kneeldowns at the end of the first half and at the end of the second half when the kneeling team is ahead by less than 8 points should be penalized as unsportsmanlike conduct, 10 yard penalty with loss of down, with the clock stopped. To me that’s truly unsportsmanlike, to not play until the last second is off the clock.

  57. smokingconch says:
    Sep 18, 2012 4:04 PM
    Easy rule fix: If a play goes for negative yardage within the final two minutes, the clock stops. Now that would make for some better endings to close games!


    ok so you’re on defense with the lead and less than a minute left and the other team has no timeouts and has to drive the whole field to win. now going out of bounds, incompletions AND sacks stop the clock for the offense.

  58. Two things…

    Schiano would not complain if the score was run up on the Bucs…he’s not that kind of coach.

    Second…no Bucs defensive player went for any knees. If you watch the replay only one played was that low…and he was going AROUND the oline to recover a fumble if it worked.

    The rest were ABOVE THE WAIST.

    Leave the rule as it is. It’s up to the teams to handle it…rest assured, no team will be caught unaware in the future.

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