NFL’s New Clock Rules: Why Clock Won’t Stop When a Player Goes Out of Bounds in 2024


In 2023, the National Football League (NFL) introduced a new clock rule that has had a significant impact on the flow of the game. This rule changes the way time is managed during certain parts of the game. Known as the “running clock rule,” it was implemented to increase the game’s overall speed and keep fans engaged throughout.

The rule primarily affects the timing after a play is dead, aiming to limit unnecessary breaks and keep the game moving. Under the previous rule, the clock would stop for various reasons, such as incomplete passes or penalties. This often led to extended breaks in gameplay, affecting the overall pace and excitement of the match.

However, the new rule has reduced these interruptions by allowing the clock to continue running in certain situations. In these serious moments, the clock will stop per the previous rule, allowing teams to strategize and potentially stage a comeback.

The running clock rule has had a significant impact on the game’s dynamics. It forces teams to make quicker decisions and execute plays efficiently, adding a sense of urgency to the game. Let’s look at the new clock rule set by the NFL.

What is the NFL’s new clock rule?

Why Clock Won't Stop When a Player Goes Out of Bounds

The NFL adopted two rule changes and a pair of points of clarification. Here’s an explanation of what they are in detail:

Instant replay reversal play clock

This qualifies as a rule modification, albeit a little one that might mainly go unnoticed. Starting in 2023, the play clock will reset to 40 seconds rather than the previous 25 seconds when a replay review inside the two-minute warning of each half results in a reversal.

The play clock will only reset to 30 seconds to comply with the imposition of the penalty when a penalty or infraction results in a 10-second runoff.

Fourth-down conversions

Another noteworthy rule modification is this one. The NFL essentially considers all failed fourth-down attempts to be turnovers. Additionally, when an offensive team attempts a fourth-down conversion but fails, the coach will not be able to contest the unsuccessful attempt because officials in the booth will automatically review the play because all turnovers, such as lost fumbles and interceptions, provoke a booth review.

Use of Helmet

This is a clarification about the use-helmet requirement, which was formally enacted in 2018. The regulation states that it is a foul to lower the head to make contact and to make contact with the helmet on any portion of the opponent’s body.

The clarification point changed the regulation and did not allow players from using “any part of his helmet or face mask to butt or make forcible contact” to the head or neck region of an opponent player.

By 2023, it was prohibited for players to use “any part of his helmet or face mask to butt or make forcible contact” with an opponent’s head or neck region.


Another clarity is that while tripping has always been illegal, it will now be punished with a 15-yard personal foul. Whether or not it is called by officials, a tripping infraction will also be subject to additional punishment (such penalties).

Exceptions to the new NFL clock rule

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Two-Minute Warning

The new NFL clock rule does not apply during the two-minute warning period at the end of each half. The clock will still stop after every play, regardless of the circumstances.

Timeout Usage

Coaches can still call timeouts to stop the clock in certain situations, such as to strategize or make substitutions. These timeouts will still follow the regular rules and they are not affected by the new clock rule.

Incomplete Passes

If a pass is ruled incomplete, the clock will stop regardless of the amount of time remaining in the game. This rule allows teams to have the opportunity to regroup and reset after an incomplete pass.

Change of Possession

If there is a change of possession, such as an interception, the clock will stop momentarily to allow the teams to transition. This exception gives the team gaining possession the opportunity to set up their offense or make any necessary adjustments.

Penalty Enforcement

If a penalty occurs during a play, the clock will stop momentarily to allow for the enforcement of the penalty. This exception ensures that the necessary time is provided for officials to administer the penalty in the correct way.

Additionally, the NFL can make further adjustments or additions to the exceptions as needed in the future.

Why the NFL Changed the Clock Rule

To make the game more exciting

The NFL’s regulations were altered to make it more intriguing and exciting. The clock stops until the next play is initiated if the ball falls out of bounds in the final two minutes of the first half or the final five minutes of the second half. Therefore, if the ball is out at the beginning of the game, play continues and the clock does not stop.

To prevent teams from running out the clock

If you pay close attention to the game, you must have wondered why the clock keeps ticking. Now that you are aware of the cause, you will be able to explain it to your friends the next time it occurs.

The Impact of the New Clock Rule 

The 2023 season marked the start of the NFL’s new clock regulation, which stipulates that if a first down is obtained, the clock will continue to run, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half. The former regulation called for the clock to stop following a first down; this is a change.

The NFL has indicated that this rule change is intended to shorten games in order to minimize player injuries. The league predicts that the rule adjustment will result in a 5-minute decrease in average game length.

Pros and Cons of the NFL New Clock Rule


  • The rule modification might lessen player injuries. There is frequently a lot of time for players to stand around and recuperate after a first down when the clock pauses. Fatigue may result from this, raising the possibility of accidents. 
  • Players will be more likely to remain active and engaged if the clock is kept ticking, which may help to decrease injuries.
  • The new rule could make the game shorter. The NFL has come under fire for its games’ excessive duration, which frequently exceeds three hours. The new time rule may assist in shortening games by a few minutes, making them more entertaining for spectators.


  • Teams may find it more difficult to score touchdowns as a result of the regulation adjustment. Teams have less time to work with on each possession when the clock is running. This might make it more challenging for teams to score touchdowns, particularly in games that are tight.
  • The new rules may favor clubs with strong rushing offenses. Teams with strong ground games will be able to keep the defense on the field and manage the time, which may wear them out and cause more turnovers.
  • The new rules may make the games less entertaining. Some fans take pleasure in the strategic elements of the game, such as determining whether to pass the ball and when to run it in order to stop the time. 
  • This part of the game might become less significant under the new rule, which might make games less entertaining.
  • Overall, it is still unclear what effect the NFL’s new clock regulation will have. It’s likely that the regulation will improve the game in some way, possibly by lowering injuries and cutting down on playing time. 
  • It’s also likely that the rule will have a detrimental effect on the game, making it more challenging for teams to score touchdowns and less interesting games overall.


Overall, it is still unclear what effect the NFL’s new clock regulation will have. It’s likely that the regulation will improve the game in some way, possibly by lowering injuries and cutting down on playing time. 

It’s also likely that the rule will have a detrimental effect on the game, making it more challenging for teams to score touchdowns and less interesting games overall. How the rule will actually impact the NFL cannot be predicted in advance.

It’s vital to remember that the NFL has recently improved the game by making further rule adjustments, such as the addition of the sky judge. The new clock rule might be paired with these other modifications.

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Shivangi Dubey
Shivangi Dubey
Shivangi is a US Sports Entertainment writer at Sportzhive. She has been a fan of sports since she was a child, and her passion for writing led her to pursue a career in journalism. Shivangi has prior experience writing about lifestyle topics, and she brings this expertise to her coverage of the US Sports Entertainment world. She is committed to providing fair and accurate assessments of the happenings in the sports world, both on and off the court.


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