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In gridiron football, a spike of the ball is a play in which the quarterback intentionally throws the ball at the ground immediately after the snap. A spike is technically an incomplete pass, and therefore, it has the effect of stopping the clock and exhausting a down.

A spike is not considered intentional grounding if it is done with the quarterback under center and immediately after the snap. No penalty is assessed. The only loss is that one down is sacrificed.

Running a spike play presumes there will be time for at least one play by the same team immediately afterward; occasionally there is so little time left in the half or game that a quarterback whose first choice was to spike the ball may have to run a regular play instead, because the spike would run the clock out. There is at least one case of a quarterback in the NFL doing just that, although that quarterback's regular play failed.

In the January 1998 Rose Bowl, Ryan Leaf spiked the ball and inadvertently ran the clock out on that play.

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