Dan Campbell: NFL told me delay of game is “a subjective call”

NFL: SEP 26 Ravens at Lions
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Few penalties in the NFL would seem to be less subjective than whether the ball is snapped before or after the play clock reaches :00. But that’s not the way NFL officials do things.

The Lions found that out the hard way on Sunday, when the Ravens clearly snapped the ball for their last offensive play after the play clock had expired. The Ravens should have been penalized five yards for delay of game, but they weren’t, and they ended up winning the game on a 66-yard field goal that bounced in off the cross bar and would have been five yards short if the penalty had been applied.

Lions coach Dan Campbell said today that he called the league office for an explanation and was told that delay of game is a subjective penalty.

“It’s really a subjective call is really what it came down to,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “So I think they’re kind of split on it. Some are — it’s just, you guys have heard the procedure of it and I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even, I’m so over it now.”

Unlike in basketball, where the shot clock clearly defines whether or not a violation has taken place, in football the play clock is not so clear because an official looks at the play clock, then looks at the ball to see whether it has been snapped, and some officials take longer than others to shift their eyes and throw their flags.

Campbell said he usually doesn’t bother to turn in questionable calls to the league office because he doesn’t think it does any good.

“The ones where it’s like, ‘Should this have been holding?’ Well, I know I’m going to get the yes, it should have been holding, but that goes both ways,” Campbell said. “Each team will turn those in and it’s like, look, that’s not worth it. It’s those ones where, ‘Why would you pump the play clock here? Why would that have been done?’ Like I don’t understand that, and then when you get clarification one way or another then at least that helps you moving down the road. I want to use it like not so much, like, ‘I told you, you were wrong.’ I want it, moving forward is there something that I missed or something that can help us down the road, more than anything.”

The Lions were on the wrong end of a missed call, but as Campbell knows, there’s nothing they can do about it now.

60 responses to “Dan Campbell: NFL told me delay of game is “a subjective call”

  1. Can anyone in the media or many of you out there that are much smarter than I am explain to this Browns Fan, if the NFL does not truly favor larger market teams, how is it statically possible that in the past 20 years, there have been 14 controversial calls that has went AGAINST the Lions and 0 as in ZERO calls that have went in their favor? I’m sure there is a logical answer out there. Maybe 20 years isn’t a large enough sample size?

  2. It’s ok for the lions. They are going for high draft picks next year so this helps

  3. Was absolutely delay of game. Booth official watching the clock should have a buzzer that signals the morons on the field to blow the whistle and throw the flag. Too easy a call to miss in a point in the game that important. Cost Detroit a win.

  4. How is a clock running out of time subjective? Sounds like a ref wasn’t doing their job (again).

  5. Ravens fan here. The delay should have been called. The Ravens should have lost. The Lions got jobbed

  6. such a simple solution. put a distinct sound after the play clock runs out. the nfl constantly rejects advancements in technology just to protect the refs

  7. It’s not the end of the world, because the Lions aren’t going anywhere this year anyway, but when people are evaluating Campbell and the Lions performance at the end of the season, they should evaluate it as if the Lions beat the Ravens at home in Week 3.

  8. Seems like a quick, easy solution is an audible alert when the play clock expires.

  9. Every kid shooting shots “at the buzzer” disagrees. If a ref is off a half second, that’s one thing. This was closer to 2 seconds, and a horrible “lack of” call. But I’m sure Baltimore thinks they’re good so let them have their day, beating the Lions with the refs clear help.

  10. I have noticed over the past few years how many of these obvious delay calls are no longer flagged when the snap goes off a split second after the clock has obviously hit 0. Years prior to this it was very black and white and was flagged objectively. Too much subjectivity in the rules to begin with, why is what is obviously easy to define have any interpretation whatsoever? Sloppy for a league that defines itself on a code of professionalism on any number of fronts.

  11. Time, Math, Numbers…. all subjective. Guess thats why all these engineers are graduating with Arts degrees, right?

  12. Makes you wonder if, who gets into the playoffs, is “subjective” as well. Sounds like “subjective” is a synonym for “Grand Design”. Roger “Godell” has spoken.

  13. The play clock on the TV screen is not in synch with the one in the stadium. Maybe the TV generated clock had hit 0 and there was still 3 seconds left on the actual stadium clock.

  14. 00:00 means 00:00 except to the Foot Locker people on the field. Why not look at the play clock and with two seconds remaining look at the ball because I’m sure you can probably count to two Mr. Zebra. Why even have a play-clock if it doesn’t even matter?

  15. speicher145 says:

    October 1, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    How is a clock running out of time subjective? Sounds like a ref wasn’t doing their job (again).
    ————-
    So many people here dont understand the process and why it’s called subjective. The referee did his job. His job is to watch and when the clock hits :00 to then look to see if the ball has been or is being snapped. Hence the subjective since it’s not like a buzzer goes off and the football cant be moved when the clocks hits :00 so it becomes subjective whether or not they believe the snap occured before the clock hit :00 since the ref cant/isnt able to stair at the clock and the ball at the exact same time.

  16. The NFL would be better off not commenting at all rather than say something like a clock running out of time is subjective.

  17. speicher145 says: October 1, 2021 at 2:15 pm How is a clock running out of time subjective? Sounds like a ref wasn’t doing their job (again). ————- So many people here dont understand the process and why it’s called subjective. The referee did his job. His job is to watch and when the clock hits :00 to then look to see if the ball has been or is being snapped. Hence the subjective since it’s not like a buzzer goes off and the football cant be moved when the clocks hits :00 so it becomes subjective whether or not they believe the snap occured before the clock hit :00 since the ref cant/isnt able to stare at the clock and the ball at the exact same time

  18. It isn’t even advanced tech to have a horn go off when it hits zero. Ref is staring at ball. If it hasn’t moved yet, penalty. Really effing simple.

  19. I’m not a Lions fan, but I can 100% guarantee if that had been the Lions lining up at almost 3 secs go after double zero it would have been a penalty

  20. It’s not the end of the world, because the Lions aren’t going anywhere this year anyway, but when people are evaluating Campbell and the Lions performance at the end of the season, they should evaluate it as if the Lions beat the Ravens at home in Week 3.

    =======

    That’s not the point. Doesn’t matter who it goes again a clock showing 00 is not subjective. Like they talked about in the Super Bowl with the Chiefs and 49ers there was a play where in slow motion it felt like 2 seconds went by and I believe Terry McCauley said there is the second where the ref is watching the ball looking up the clock you get the delay but this was way to long.

  21. Even if that were true – and I don’t really buy it – this case was well beyond “subjective”. This was a huge gap of time between clock and snap, enough for the most casual viewer to perceive the gap. Well later than many cases where penalties have been called. Pathetic.

  22. Said it before I’ll say it again the play in question here is irrelevant because it was a throw away play. Part of the karmic justice system that governs all activities of the world. Pay closer attention and you’ll notice it in your own life, as well.

  23. Can anyone in the media or many of you out there that are much smarter than I am explain to this Browns Fan, if the NFL does not truly favor larger market teams, how is it statically possible that in the past 20 years, there have been 14 controversial calls that has went AGAINST the Lions and 0 as in ZERO calls that have went in their favor? I’m sure there is a logical answer out there. Maybe 20 years isn’t a large enough sample size?

    ==============================================================
    There were two controversial calls that went the Lions way in this game alone. A player clearly had his shin down before the goal line and the call was overturned to a touchdown. Another where a fumble was called on the field and the analysts said it looked like a fumble and there was no way there was enough to overturn the call, but the refs overturned the call. These calls were both clearly wrong. One added points to the Lions and one took points away from the Ravens. The delay of game was missed, but it is not a conspiracy. The refs just miss a lot of calls. Every team has some that help and some that hurt.

  24. Being angry about something outside of your hands is more of the SOL attitude. Move on. Don’t give up a 4th and 19 and you don’t give the opportunity for the refs to make a bad call.

    It’s pretty simple. Control what you can control, and deal with what you cannot.

  25. I’m a huge soccer fan but the subjective time management of the referee during injury time (extra time added after 90 minutes go account for injury delays) drives me up the wall. I hope the NFL doesn’t turn into soccer for time related calls.

  26. I call BS. Holding is subjective. Something that is easily tested, such as “did the center snap the ball before the clock hit zero” is not. You can’t get more OBJECTIVE than that. Unless your an NFL ref. And gambling is now legal. Connect the dots.

  27. Put an earphone on the ref and have it buzz in their ear when it hits zero he can look at the snap the entire time. 21st century and they’re still looking up looking down looking up?

  28. Never mind about the effect of this missed penalty and how it doesn’t matter because the Lions aren’t going anywhere. What about the Ravens having an extra win when other teams will be fighting for a playoff spot against them come week 17,18

  29. It’s stupid for this to happen the referee and umpire are both in the backfield now either of them can see the play clock in the end zones they both have the same view the qb has so they saying that the referee or umpire cannot look at the clock and see if the ball is snapped at the same down sheez nfl come into the 21st century

  30. Not sure how it’s subjective when the pool ref and all the networks rules gurus said the same thing , once the clock hits zero the back judge looks at the ball and if the snap has started it’s okay . The problem here was when the clock hit zero you could count 2 Mississippi’s and the ball still had not moved . Just when you think the NFL and their officials have run out of ways to embarrass themselves they come with yet another , calling a blatant missed penalty a subjective call .

  31. Honestly this happens all the time with plays involving the kicker. If you pay attention it happens a lot with extra points and field goals. The officials have obviously been told to give them slack as far as the clock is concerned. It has to blatantly obvious as in seconds past zero before they will call it.

  32. If you’re planning on getting into the NFL coaching business, and you’re worried about refs not getting every call correct, I’d find another business. The job pays very well, and it’s coming from TV money. The league wants to control the outcomes of certain games, or at least avoid blowouts on prime time games so that the audience doesn’t leave. It pays your salary. Deal with it.

  33. As long as we continue to think the league is actually trying to get the calls right, but they just can’t seem to figure out how to do it, nothing will ever change. They know they’ve fooled us, and they consider us to be fools.

  34. Subjective? The clock was at zero for 2 seconds. The official that missed it or, most likely, chose not to throw the flag, should be fired.

  35. I’m not a fan of either team here, but this was as obvious a delay of game penalty as I’ve ever seen, and I’m old enough to have watched Unitas play when I was a kid. This was as egregious as the DPI in the Saints-Rams game a few years ago. An embarrassment for the NFL in a long line of them.

  36. Why play 60 minutes if you can play a minute longer or cut the time by one minute.

    Clocks are not subjective. They are real, they exist for a purpose and if you have a clock measuring a certain time span then there is nothing subjective to it. The interpretation and handling of the rule by the refs may be subjective, but that is just as wrong as declaring a team that scored one point less than the other team the winner of the game. That‘s too much of an alternative facts world that I don‘t like. We‘ve had enough of that in politics and we don‘t need it in sports or at least in football. If you want subjectivity go into figure skating…..

  37. Why can’t the official receive an electrical shock when the play clock gets to zero? There has to be a better way to notify the officials than to have them watching the clock and waiting a second or two late after it reaches zero. Must going to cost the NFL to much to figure this out.

  38. A half to maybe full second may be considered subjective. A whole 2 seconds after the clock hits zero? That’s something else entirely.

  39. Pointless to even bother with these kinds of things. Are you actually going to stop watching, buying, consuming the NFL? I’d say 99.9% of us won’t. So why would they do anything about it? Just understand that a lot of things are “fixed” with pro sports. It’s kinda like pro wrestling. It’s just for entertainment. I just watch with a passing curiosity, but I still watch.

  40. Anytime the commissioner said he roots for who ever is behind them everything is in question!!!

  41. inozwetrust says:
    October 1, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Ravens fan here. The delay should have been called. The Ravens should have lost. The Lions got jobbed
    _______________________________________

    First, the play clock runs out all the time with no. Second, even if the get the call, the game is not over! The Lions could jump offsides on the next play or you could a miracle multiple lateral play. Both have happened…

  42. The NFL doesn’t give a crap about the Lions, but when their incompetent refs start costing their new Vegas advertisers and back room business partners money, it will suddenly matter and get fixed.

  43. Refs have proven time and time again over the years , “No JOB Is To Big For The Lions “.

  44. lukedunphysscienceproject says:
    October 1, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    It’s not the end of the world, because the Lions aren’t going anywhere this year anyway, but when people are evaluating Campbell and the Lions performance at the end of the season, they should evaluate it as if the Lions beat the Ravens at home in Week 3.

    =============

    It is not about the Lions getting a win …. it is about the Ravens getting a loss … this could impact other teams for playoff spots down the road

  45. They’ll never do the logical thing and have a buzzer, because then they couldn’t blatantly cheat games.

  46. This is all about Raven hate. If it were the other way around, nobody would be sobbing for the Ravens. Quite ridiculous, this happens all the time and none of the haters are saying one word about the 2 horrendous calls the went against the Ravens in that game. And you talk about subjectivity.

  47. Stuff like this is just ludicrous. How many BILLIONS of dollars are involved in the NFL and they can’t get a simple clock right? And with legalized betting now a thing this all becomes a very bad look for the NFL.

    How many bets for Detroit to win were affected by that horrible non-call? When will people start to question the legitimacy of a league where refs can and do affect the outcome of games?

  48. I’m not buying the comment of ‘The Ref used a second or two to turn his head from the clock to the ball’… They have what is called a ‘Back Judge’ Referee who can see BOTH the ball AND the clock in the background without turning their head.
    The Lions got scrooed, no two ways about it.

  49. “This is all about Raven hate. If it were the other way around, nobody would be sobbing for the Ravens. Quite ridiculous, this happens all the time and none of the haters are saying one word about the 2 horrendous calls the went against the Ravens in that game. And you talk about subjectivity.”

    No, this is about the OBVIOUS, not a bang-bang play or two that last a half-second and you have to make an immediate judgment call, this is about the CLOCK – it’s not a judgment call, you either snap the ball in time, or you don’t.

    What’s next: ‘The field goal missed, but was close enough, so I’m calling it good’

  50. ford field is a great stadium.
    but i wonder if the stadium were outdoor, would the lions have an advantage in winter?

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