NFL Updated Its Rules After Alex Smith Exploited Loophole By Running Off The Field With The Ball

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Last week’s Pittsburgh-Washington had a bit of controversy after Alex Smith appeared to confuse the refs on the field.

Right before halftime refs were forced to stop the clock for “administrative stoppage” after Smith ran off the ball which gave Washington time to set up a field goal with no timeouts.

Football Zebras is now reporting that the NFL has implemented some rules changes to prevent what happened in Pittsburgh from happening again. According to the report, the league released a training video for officials to instruct them to not stop the clock in during end of quarter situations.

Via Football Zebras

Football Zebras has learned from sources familiar with the contents of the training video, senior vice president of officiating development and training Walt Anderson specifically addressed that play and corrective actions going forward.

Anderson reiterated that the crew can spot the scrimmage ball from the previous down rather than the K ball in a time-constrained running-clock situation. If the K ball is available in time, then use it. He said a guideline should be 20 seconds on the game clock, upping it from the “approximately 10” seconds under existing procedures.
In these situations, the referee will have sole responsibility for determining administrative stoppages.
In the case of an administrative stoppage, the clock must resume as soon as possible. Had an administrative stoppage been appropriate on this play, the clock should have been wound about 3 seconds later when a new ball enters the field, and that any official could have done so. There would not be a conference and an announcement by the referee as was done here.
Teams are going to be informed of the 20-second benchmark and that there will not be an administrative stoppage in this situation.