What I’m referring to is the blimey delay of game penalty that was called on the game’s last play that actually gave the Lions’ Matt Prater another opportunity to attempt a game-winning field goal, only moments after he had missed a 43-yarder that would have sealed a victory for the Falcons.
However, given the penalty, Prater got another shot at it and made a 48-yarder to give the Lions a 23-21 win.
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I hate to throw a spanner in the works, folks, but I’m going to. I don’t think a delay of game penalty should have been called. It was a bit wonky, in my opinion.
A lot of people got their wires crossed with the way this one ended. Should there have been a 10-second run off that would have ended the game? The answer is no because the Lions weren’t trying to conserve time and the clock wasn’t running anyway. Therefore, you can’t have a 10-second runoff in this situation, the key being the clock was stopped on the previous play when Lions quarterback Matt Stafford spiked the ball on a second-and-11 from the Falcons’ 25-yard line with five seconds to play.
Many people also wrote in to ask whether the Falcons could have declined the penalty and accepted the result of the play. The answer is also no because there was no play. The delay of game penalty is a penalty prior to the snap, thus no play.
You’d have to be a bit of a mug to think there is an exact science to calling a delay of game penalty. There’s always a built-in delay because the back judge has to look at the clock turn to zero, and then look to find the ball. In the NFL, we call that an accepted, built-in delay — it’s not a lot — but it’s understood.
This call was clearly inconsistent with a similar play that happened midway through the fourth quarter. The Lions had the ball, third-and-6 at the Atlanta 40-yard line with 8:19 left in the game. The clock on the FOX Box graphic — which by the way, is not the official clock — hit zero and the ball was snapped a good second afterward and there was no penalty called.
That was not the case on the delay of game penalty called on the Prater kick at the end of the game. The ball was snapped simultaneously when the clock hit zero.
Neither was a delay of game penalty, in my opinion, but the one at the end of the game turned out to be a stonking call that ended up giving the Lions the victory.
Footnote: For those of you who thought I’ve got a bit barmy — it was a 5:30 a.m. call time in LA today for the game in London, so I was just trying to use my best British slang.