Buffalo’s spike didn’t fit within the rules, but officials allowed it given the circumstances

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Lost in the multiple mistakes made by referee Walt Anderson’s crew just before halftime on Monday night in Seattle, all of which worked against the Bills, was a potential blunder that helped Buffalo.

When trainers attended to kicker Dan Carpenter following an uncalled act of unnecessary roughness, Carpenter had to leave the field for one play. So the Bills opted to burn that play by spiking the ball.

The only problem? The rulebook expressly permits spikes by the passer to stop the clock. On Monday night, the clock wasn’t running.

Here’s Rule 8, Section 2, Article 1, Item 3: “A player under center is permitted to stop the game clock legally to save time if, immediately upon receiving the snap, he begins a continuous throwing motion and throws the ball directly into the ground.”

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the spike was allowed because of the extenuating circumstances arising from the sequence of events. The real question, however, is whether the officiating crew specifically acknowledged that loophole and allowed it, or whether they simply didn’t think of it.

Regardless, a decision to burn a play by spiking the ball doesn’t fall fully within the scope of intentional grounding. Consider Rule 8, Section 2, Article 1: “It is a foul for intentional grounding if a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage because of pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion. A realistic chance of completion is defined as a pass that is thrown in the direction of and lands in the vicinity of an originally eligible receiver.”

In this situation, the Bills weren’t facing an “imminent loss of yardage”; they were merely trying to check the box in order to get their kicker back.

Moving forward, it would make sense to add a line or two to the rule book that would account for this situation in the future. Which would make the rule book even longer. But that’s one of the reasons the rule book is as big as it is; there are many situations that occur during a game, and the best approach is to account for as many of them as possible.

32 responses to “Buffalo’s spike didn’t fit within the rules, but officials allowed it given the circumstances

  1. Sounds to me like Rule 8, Section 2, Article 1, Item 3 covers it perfectly. As soon as the ball was snapped, the clock was running, and the player under center was permitted to stop it to save time.

    There’s nothing in that rule that says the clock has to be running before the play starts.

    The Buffalo spike fit perfectly within the rules.

  2. So what your saying is that the officials bend the rules when it fits? I think buffalo got screwed but that doesn’t mean change the rules for them for that play.

  3. Good lord. There was no whistle and he touched the ball first. If that was a personal foul then the dude who blocked Seattle’s punt should have been flagged too as he hit the ball then the kicker. Blandino, the idiot that he is, did not know that the whistle was not blown so he was off base on his snap judgement during the game. He really should wait till he can review it properly before commenting.

  4. Of course you want to add rules. Attorneys want to make everything like to the legal system, so incredibly complex and hard for any one person to understand that the system becomes dysfunctional.

    We don’t need a rule book that requires lawyers to officiate the game.

    NO NO NO

  5. With all due respect Mike, what good is adding to a rule when officials cannot handle the current rules ? Roughing the kicker was not called and that’s a rule. The clock was not reset once the official removed himself from standing over the ball and that’s a simple of simple rules

    Walt Anderson and his crews have been atrocious for years. This is nothing new other then the complete screw up could not be hidden or covered up this time

    If officials are controlling the game , which Anderson has changed out comes of many games, then they need to be held to a higher standard the. The players.

    Also. They are protected too much by their union. Name one other “Part time ” employee in this nation that has the protection Refs have. this all goes right back to the Boss, Goodell. Rosella and Tagliabue would never put up with this clown show. Refs should also be made to be available to the media after the game. Simply put. Refs have too much authority and that in itself is ruining this game. Has been for years.

  6. In addition to being wrong in your conclusion, I suspect that this post would not appear on PFT if Bill Belichick had done this.

    Just a hunch.

  7. Clock began running with the snap and stopped when the ball hit the ground, no ‘loophole’ used there. There’s enough that needs addressing as it is without fixing a rule that isn’t broken.

  8. This is part of the problem with officiating in the NFL today…rules are open to interpretation, and opinions vary. The point of even having a rule is to establish clarity about what is and is not permitted.
    The kicker was over acting to get a flag,which is what players do…just like Sherman was trying to block the ball they were both trying to do their job for their team.
    Geez…at least this was reviewable and there was no BS story about a “replay malfunction”!

  9. Sherman kept playing until the whistle blew (the refs admitted they blew the whistle late) and as such, blocked the kick legally.
    Regarding the spike, what the rule is meant to convey, and is interpreted as, is the clock must still be running from the previous play when the ball is snapped.
    What they let the Bills QB get away with is grounding plain and simple.

  10. OMG. Can’t take this kind of over-analysis of the rules anymore.

    I find it difficult to believe anyone who watches football thinks that there *should* have been a flag on Buffalo in that situation for spiking the ball, or even thought there was anything wrong with it.

  11. I thought the New York office got approval to assist in timekeeping during the game last year?

    What gets me is that all this could have been avoided had all this been reviewable.

    Blandino tweted it should be a roughing the kicker(or running into or etc) Why not pick up the mic and say to the ref:
    “Hey dude that was actually roughing.” And the refs correct it.

    There is no need for millions of viewers to go frustrated to half time.

  12. Let me get this straight about whistle or no whistle. It’s the same as when a ball crosses the front of the goal line and then it’s slapped out of his hands. No whistle is blown when the ball immediatley crosses the goal line But it’s called when the player is down. Since the ball touched the plane of the goal line, the play is immediatley dead, thus no fumble.

    Now, player A grabs the face mask of the runner before the play is blown dead. This is a penalty. No different then what Sherman did. He hit the kicker before the play was blown dead. That’s a penalty no matter how you sugar coat it folks.

  13. A caviar. Richard Sherman is a punk and not because of this. I never was a Lete Carroll or Seahawk fan. Although lots of talent on that D you have to admit most of them in reality get away with murder during a game. Bennett is the biggest punk of the bunch.

    Doesn’t matter anyway. Hawks will win the pitiful NFC West and get blown out in the playoffs by Dallas

  14. they followed the rules
    rules state to stop the clock does say it must be running, snap clock running then spike stop running.
    come on man

  15. So, Mike, in your world, how does the game clock start again, after it’s been stopped? I’d say it starts when the ball is snapped, no? Maybe not in your world, but in the football world I’ve lived in since I was 7 years old, the clock has ALWAYS started when the ball is snapped.

    As it pertains to Sherman’s roughing and touching the ball. It’s not an “add on” about the ball in flight, it’s to protect the kicker. You can plow the holder, as he has the ball, you cannot contact the kicker. That’s why the rule is written that way. When the ball is kicked, it is technically the kicker who had possession last. The ball was on the ground, Shreman touched the ball, and then plowed Carpenter. That is exactly why the rule is written the way it is. It’s a foul.

  16. As usual, the corrections come days after the first impressions you gave everyone have set in.

  17. I think we should make the rule book as big, thick, and confusing as it can be. Then keep adding stuff to it as the screams get louder about what is a rule or should be. Make it like the USGA rules. Every shot determine if a worm made a cast, whether a leaf or grass can be moved and a few thousand other details of minutiae that really make the game enjoyable. Just ask Dustin Johnson. He’ll tell you how well it works. He even had a referee to ask. But it took over an hour for the penalty to be assessed from one of those “details”. Maybe the football game should not be over until Monday when all of this can be figured out. maybe add points to scores for teams that were wronged by a wrong call.

    Cut the rules back to player safety and let them play.

  18. @krm62015. Did you even watch the game? Nobody from the Bills touched the kicker when the punt was blocked.

  19. the referees union is powerful.

    they have the league’s blessing, or it’s nards.

    they do what want, with zero consequences.

    the good news for teams though, is that it is completely for sale.

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