Case Rule 7

Rule 7 Snapping, Handling and Passing the Ball

 

  SECTION 1 BEFORE THE SNAP  

ART. 1 . . . The snapper may be over the ball but his feet must be behind the neutral zone and no part of his person, other than a hand(s) on the ball, may be beyond the foremost point of the ball.

ART. 2 . . . The snapper may lift the ball for lateral rotation but may not rotate end-for-end or change the location or fail to keep the long axis of the ball at right angles to the line of scrimmage.

ART. 3 . . . Following the ready-for-play and after touching the ball, the snapper shall not:

  1. Remove both hands from the ball.
  2. Make any movement that simulates a snap.
  3. Fail to clearly pause before the snap.
  4. Following adjustment, lift or move the ball other than in a legal snap.
  SNAP INFRACTION  

7.1.3 SITUATION: A’s linemen take their positions and snapper A1 has made preliminary adjustments. Prior to the snap A1: (a) tilts the ball to an angle of 90 degrees; or (b) lifts the ball and pushes it forward in order to make a deep snap or; (c) rotates the ball end for end; or (d) removes both hands. RULING: Legal in (a). It is a snap infraction in (b), (c) and (d). The covering official will sound his whistle immediately, signifying the ball remains dead. A snap infraction is a dead-ball foul and the penalty of 5 yards is administered from the succeeding spot. (2-40-2, 4-1-6, 7-1-2, 7-1-3, 10-4-2a, 10-4-5b)

ART. 4 . . . An illegal snap or other snap infraction causes the ball to remain dead.

ART. 5 . . . No player, other than the snapper, shall encroach on the neutral zone after the ball is ready for play by touching the ball or an opponent or by being in the neutral zone to give defensive signals.

  ENCROACHMENT  

7.1.5 SITUATION: Following the ready-for-play signal, but before A has taken any positions on the line of scrimmage, B1 is either in or beyond the neutral zone facing his teammates while giving defensive signals. RULING: Encroachment by B1. (2-8)

ART. 6 . . . Following the ready for play and after the snapper has placed his hand(s) on the ball, encroachment occurs if:

  1. Any other player breaks the plane of the neutral zone;
  2. A defensive player makes contact with the ball prior to the end of the snap; or
  3. A defensive player makes contact with the hand(s) or arm(s) of the snapper prior to the snapper releasing the ball.
  ENCROACHMENT  

7.1.6 SITUATION A: When A comes to the line of scrimmage, the linemen assume their final positions such that: (a) five linemen penetrate the vertical plane through the waistline of the snapper while the head of the sixth penetrates the plane drawn through the waistline of the nearest teammate who is on his line of scrimmage; or (b) one interior lineman has his head penetrating the neutral zone while the other linemen are all penetrating the vertical plane of the snapper’s waist- line. RULING: In (a), it is illegal formation which is a foul simultaneously with the snap. The offended team will be given the option of taking the result of the play or accepting the penalty and replaying the down. In (b), it is encroachment for a player to have any part of his body penetrating the plane of the neutral zone after the ready and the snapper has placed his hand(s) on the ball. This is a dead-ball foul and the ball will not be permitted to become live. (2-8, 2-25-2, 2-32-9, 7-1-5, 7-2-3)

7.1.6 SITUATION B: Snapper A1 is positioned over the ball following the ready signal, but has not yet placed his hand(s) on it. Either: (a) A2; or (b) B1, breaks the plane of the neutral zone. Both players adjust their position and get behind the neutral zone; or (c) A1 has a hand on the ground and then stands erect to call out a blocking assignment. RULING: No infraction in either (a), (b) or (c). In (c), the snapper is not restricted as are other linemen after placing a hand on or near the ground. (7-1-7c)

7.1.6 SITUATION C: A1 takes his position over the ball and B1 breaks the plane of the neutral zone: (a) after A1 has placed his hands on the ball following a change of possession with A having a new series and following the referee’s ready-for- play signal; (b) after A1 has placed his hands on the ball on first, second, third or fourth down when no change of possession has occurred and the covering official on the previous play has given the dead ball signal following the previous play; or (c) after A1 has placed his hands on the ball following a change of possession with A having a new series, but the referee has not yet given the ready-for-play signal. RULING: In both (a) and (b), the ball has been declared ready for play and encroachment foul has occurred. In (c), no foul has occurred as encroachment restrictions are not in effect.

7.1.6 SITUATION D: Following the ready signal, snapper A1 positions over the ball and immediately places his hands on the ball and adjusts it. The rest of the team then take presnap positions. The coach of B realizes his team has only 10 players on the field and he sends B1 into the game. The ball is located at one end of the field so that B1 is on A’s side of the neutral zone when he enters the field. He crosses through the neutral zone, but is onside prior to the snap. RULING: It is not encroachment for the substitute to cross through the neutral zone. An entering substitute cannot encroach until after he has established himself as a player on his team’s side of the neutral zone. If B1 is unable to get onside prior to the snap, it will be a foul for illegal substitution. This foul occurs simultaneously with the snap and if penalized would be administered from the previous spot. Similarly, it is not encroachment when a replaced player crosses the neutral zone in leaving the field. (2-32-15, 3-7-2, 3-7-6, 7-1-2, 10-4-2a)

7.1.6 SITUATION E: Snapper A1 takes his position over the ball and places one or both hands on the ball. The ready-for-play signal is given and as A1 begins the motion to snap the ball, B1 swipes at the ball attempting to dislodge it from the snapper, touching the snapper’s hand or the ball: (a) prior to the snapper releasing the ball for the snap; or (b) after the snapper has released the ball on the snap. RULING: In (a), this is a foul for encroachment. Repeated attempts at this act could be considered unsportsmanlike conduct by the game officials. In (b), there is no foul.

ART. 7 . . . After the ball is ready for play and before the snap begins, no false start shall be made by any A player. It is a false start if:

  1. A shift or feigned charge simulates action at the snap.
  2. Any act is clearly intended to cause B to encroach.
  3. Any A player on his line between the snapper and the player on the end of his line, after having placed a hand(s) on or near the ground, moves his hand(s) or makes any quick movement.
  FALSE START/NO FALSE START  

7.1.7 SITUATION A: A is on its line of scrimmage with A1 directly and immediately behind the snapper in a position to receive the ball. As the count is started, but before the ball is snapped: (a) A1 steps backward from the line of scrimmage and while so doing he fakes throwing a forward pass. B1 then charges across the neutral zone and contacts A2; or (b) A1 quickly withdraws his hands from under the snapper and goes in motion. Reaction on the part of B2 causes him to charge across the neutral zone and contact A3; or (c) A1 lifts the heel of one foot as a signal to start A2 in motion. RULING: False start by A1 in both (a) and (b). These are acts interpreted to cause an opponent to encroach and, therefore, are infractions. It is the intent of the rules to prohibit such acts. Whether or not the action by A1 draws B into the neutral zone should not be the determining factor in ruling a false-start foul. The action by A1 in (c) is legal. (7-1-7b)

7.1.7 SITUATION B: On fourth and four from A’s 35-yard line, K comes to the line in a scrimmage formation. After calling a few signals, A1 says “shift.” All 11 players then make a movement. Some players move to a new position for a scrimmage-kick formation, while four interior linemen remain in place and move from a hands-on-thighs position to an upright position and finally to a three- point stance. RULING: This could be ruled a false start if the covering official(s) determine that it was designed to cause B to encroach. In judging the offensive team’s intent, the game officials should consider whether players move to a new position, the speed and abruptness of movement, down and distance and if any player pretends to have the ball or otherwise simulate action at the snap with the start of a play. (7-1-7, 7-2-6)

7.1.7 SITUATION C: On third and 10 from A’s 40-yard line, all team A players are set. While quarterback A1 is calling signals, defensive back B1, starting from a position eight yards behind his line of scrimmage, runs toward the neutral zone. B1 stops directly in front of tackle A4 but does not enter the neutral zone. In response to B1’s charge, A4 (a) does not move, or (b) flinches. RULING: No foul in (a). In (b), A4 is guilty of a dead-ball foul for false start. If in the covering official’s judgment the action by B1 was for the purpose of disconcerting or hindering A, it is a foul for a disconcerting act. In this case, the covering official should sound the whistle before the snap. (7-1-7, 7-1-9)

7.1.7 SITUATION D: Prior to the snap, A has eight players on the line of scrim- mage. A1, who is on the end of the line, shifts and becomes a back. A2, who prior to A1’s change of position was an interior lineman, is now on the end of the line. A2 rises from his three-point stance and moves to a new position 5 yards farther out on the line of scrimmage where he again assumes a three-point stance. RULING: A legal shift by A2. Restrictions that apply to interior linemen no longer apply to A2 after A1 moved off the line and assumed a position as a back, thus making A2 an end. (2-39)

ART. 8 . . . If a false start causes B to encroach, only the false start is penalized.

ART. 9 . . . No defensive player shall use disconcerting acts or words prior to the snap in an attempt to interfere with A’s signals or movements.

  DISCONCERTING ACTS  

7.1.9 SITUATION: B1 calls defensive signals loudly: (a) before A takes its set position; or (b) during the time A1 is giving his cadence count; or (c) while A1 is using audibles. RULING: Legal in (a). In (b) and (c), if in the covering official’s judgment the action by B1 was for the purpose of disconcerting or hindering A, it is a foul for a disconcerting act. In this case, the covering official should sound his whistle before the snap. (7-1-9) 

PENALTY:
Arts. 1, 5, 6 – Encroachment – (S7-18) – 5 yards;
Arts. 2, 3 – snap infraction (S7-19) – 5 yards;
Art. 7 – false start – (S7-19) – 5 yards;
Art. 9 – disconcerting act – (S7-23) – 5 yards.


  SECTION 2 FORMATION/POSITION, NUMBERING AND ACTION AT THE SNAP  

ART. 1 . . . After the ready-for-play, each player of A who participated in the previous down and each substitute for A must have been, momentarily, between the 9-yard marks, before the snap.

  ILLEGAL FORMATION  

7.2.1 SITUATION A: Following a second down play, A89 comes onto the field as a substitute for A93 but A89 stops 5 yards from the sideline as his team is ready to snap the ball. Following the snap, A89 goes down field and catches A1’s legal forward pass for a first down. RULING: This is an illegal formation and if the penalty is accepted it would be marked off from the previous spot. Depending upon the situation (see 9-6-4d), this could also be illegal participation. (9-6-4d)

7.2.1 SITUATION B: With fourth down and 8 from K’s 20-yard line and K in scrimmage-kick formation, K1 kicks the ball, but at the snap, K had only four players on the line of scrimmage. After the play is over, R1 throws K2 to the ground and swings at him. RULING: These fouls would be enforced separately and in order. R may elect to accept the distance penalty from the previous spot and re-kick, or accept the distance penalty from the succeeding spot. Then, R’s dead-ball personal foul is then enforced (and R1 is disqualified) with the ball being placed 15 yards behind the end of the run. (10-4-2 EXCEPTION)

7.2.1 SITUATION C: Following a second down play that ends inbounds, the 40-second play clock begins. With 35 seconds on the play clock, A89 (a) who was in on the previous play and remains outside the 9-yard marks until the snap or (b) who comes onto the field as a substitute and is outside the 9-yard marks and remains outside the 9-yard marks until the snap. With 32 seconds on the play clock, the umpire places the ball, moves to position and the ball is ready for play. RULING: In (a) and (b) this is an illegal formation and if the penalty is accepted it would be marked off from the previous spot. Depending upon the situation (see 9-6-4d), this could also be illegal participation. After the ball is ready for play, each player of A who participated in the previous down and each substitute for A must have been, momentarily, between the 9-yard marks, before the snap. 

ART. 2 . . . The players on each side of and next to the snapper may lock legs with the snapper, but any other A lineman must have each foot outside the closest foot of the player next to him at the snap. A’s players may stand, crouch or kneel.

  LOCKING LEGS  

7.2.2 SITUATION: Following the snap on a kick try, the offensive linemen “step down” and interlock feet. RULING: Legal. However, prior to the snap only the linemen next to the snapper are permitted to lock legs with the snapper.

ART. 3 . . . Of the players of A who are not on their line at the snap only one may penetrate the vertical plane through the waistline of his nearest teammate who is on his line. He must have his hands in position to receive the ball if it is snapped between the snapper’s legs but he is not required to receive the snap. Any other player(s) must be in legal position as a back. (2-32-3)

  POSITION AT THE SNAP  

7.2.3 SITUATION A: Following the huddle, after A comes to its line of scrim- mage, quarterback A1 is breaking the plane of the waistline of the snapper, and slot back A2 has a part of his body breaking the plane of the waistline of his nearest teammate who is on the line of scrimmage. RULING: This is an illegal formation foul at the snap. While quarterback A1 may be breaking the plane of the waistline of the snapper or nearest teammate legally on the line of scrimmage, it is illegal for any other back to break the plane of the waistline of his nearest teammate who is on the line of scrimmage. (2-32-3)

7.2.3 SITUATION B: At the snap, A1 is in a position which is neither on the line of scrimmage nor clearly in the backfield. A1 is not on the line because neither his head nor his foot is breaking the plane through the waist of the snapper, and he is not a back because he is penetrating the plane through the waist of his nearest teammate, end A2, who is on the line. The position of A1 is inside that of end A2, who is clearly on the line of scrimmage. When the ball is snapped, both A1 and A2 go downfield and A1 catches a pass. RULING: The position of A1 is illegal when the ball is snapped. A1 is an ineligible receiver because he was not clearly a back. His advance beyond the neutral zone is illegal and when he touches the pass, it is illegal touching. This is a multiple foul and B has a choice of which penalty to accept. (7-5-6a, 7-5-13)

ART. 4 . . . A snap shall be such that the ball immediately leaves the hand or hands of the snapper and touches a back or the ground before it touches an A lineman. A scrimmage down must start with a legal snap. An illegal snap causes the ball to remain dead.

ART. 5 . . . Player formation and numbering requirements include:

  1. No more than four A players may be backs and only one A player may penetrate the vertical plane through the waistline of his nearest teammate who is on his line as in 7-2-3; and
  2. At the snap, at least five A players on their line of scrimmage must be numbered 50-79.
          EXCEPTIONS:
    1. On first, second or third down, when A sets or shifts into a scrimmage-kick formation as in 2-14-2a, the snapper may be a player numbered 0 to 49 or 80 to 99. If Team A has the snapper in the game under this exception, Team A shall have four players wearing numbers 50-79 on its line of scrimmage. The snapper in the game under this exception must be between the ends and is an ineligible forward-pass receiver during that down unless the pass is touched by B (7-5-6b).
    2. On fourth down or during a kick try, when A sets or shifts into a scrimmage-kick formation, any A player numbered 0 to 49 or 80 to 99 may take the position of any A player numbered 50 to 79. A player in the game under this exception must assume an initial position on his line of scrimmage between the ends and he remains an ineligible forward-pass receiver during that down unless the pass is touched by B (7-5-6b).
  3. Players of the same team shall not participate during the same down while wearing identical numbers.
  4. B players may be anywhere on or behind their line of scrimmage.
  PLAYER NUMBERING REQUIREMENTS  

7.2.5 SITUATION A: Team A comes to its line of scrimmage with: (a) ends 80 and 71, tackles 70 and 81, guards 60 and 61, and center 50; or (b) ends 80 and 81, guards 72 and 75, tackles 62 and 63, and center 50 and one halfback numbered 76. RULING: The formations in both (a) and (b) are legal because there are five players numbered 50-79 on the offensive line. In (a), a player at tackle wearing 81 and the end wearing 71 are both ineligible receivers; 81 because of his position and 71 because of his number. In (b), number 76, a halfback, is not an eligible receiver because of the number he is wearing. (7-5-6a)

7.2.5 SITUATION B: Team A sets with five players on its line numbered 50-79, while two teammates, both on the same side, are numbered 89 and 41. Number 41 is on the end and 89 is inside and next to him. Number 41 shifts to the backfield and Number 32, on the opposite side of the ball, shifts so he is on that end of the line. A touchdown pass is thrown to Number 89. RULING: The touchdown counts. The fact that A lined up with a player wearing an eligible receiver’s number in the interior line does not eliminate the possibility of this player being eligible to receive a pass following a shift. (7-5-6a)

7.2.5 SITUATION C: Team A comes to its line of scrimmage with tackles 70 and 71, guards 60 and 61, center 50 all on the line of scrimmage, a quarterback and three other backs in the backfield, and: (a) ends 80 and 89 on the line of scrimmage; (b) end 80 on the line of scrimmage and no other players on the field; (c) end 80 on the line of scrimmage and player 89 meeting neither the definition of a back nor a lineman; or (d) players 80 and 89 on the field meeting neither the definition of a back nor a lineman. RULING: The formations and numbering in both (a) and (b) are legal because there are five players numbered 50-79 on the line of scrimmage, a minimum of five players on the line of scrimmage, and no more than four players meeting the definition of a back, including the quarterback. In both (c) and (d), the formations are not legal as only the quarterback in this formation is permitted to be neither a lineman nor a back.

7.2.5 SITUATION D: Substitute A1 comes in to replace A2. Both are wearing Number 88. RULING: No violation unless both participate at the same time. (1-4-3, 7-2-5c) 

NUMBERING EXCEPTION

7.2.5 SITUATION E: With fourth and 6 from the K20, Team K lines up with A21 as the left end; A34, A66, A25, A64 and A86 in the traditional five tackle-guard-center- guard-tackle spots; and A11 on the right end. All are on the line of scrimmage. Players A10, A20 and A5 are in the backfield with A79 lined up in the deep, position as a potential kicker. A25 places his hand on the ball. Prior to the snap, (a) A20 shifts to the line of scrimmage on the right of A86 and left of A11 and sets for one second before the ball is snapped; or (b) A11 steps back off of the line and A20 shifts to replace him as the end, where both are set for a second before the ball is snapped. Who are the eligible receivers prior to the ball being touched by B? RULING: Once A25 placed his hands on the ball, all players in between the ends (A34, A66, A25, A64 and A86) become ineligible and remain ineligible throughout the down. In (a), once A20 assumed a position on the line of scrimmage, A20 became ineligible as he was covered up by A11. A79 is ineligible by number. Only A21, A11, A10 and A5 are eligible on the play. In (b), because A11 stepped back off of the line first, A20 becomes eligible as he would be the end. A21, A20, A11, A10 and A5 are eligible. COMMENT: When A is in scrimmage-kick formation, it does not have to kick and may kick when it is not in this formation. [2-14-2, 2-32-9, 2-39, 7-2-5b(2), 7-5-6]

7.2.5 SITUATION F: It is fourth and 6 for A from its own 40-yard line. A initially sets in a scrimmage-kick formation with Number 83 as an interior lineman and four other linemen numbered 50-79. Prior to the snap, B1 encroaches. The penalty is administered leaving A only 1 yard to go for a first down. A now lines up with Number 83 on the end of the line and through substitution has five interior linemen numbered 50-79. Number 83 goes downfield and catches a touchdown pass. RULING: A legal play. The dead-ball encroachment foul allowed A to cancel the use of the numbering exception and to use Number 83 as an eligible receiver. The numbering exception is canceled, or must be renewed, following a dead-ball foul, a charged time-out or TV/radio time-out, the end of a period or an official’s time-out. COMMENT: If a place kick is used for a try, it is a scrimmage kick and the numbering exception may be used. (7-2-5b EXCEPTIONS) 

ART. 6 . . . After a huddle or shift, all players of A shall come to an absolute stop and shall remain stationary simultaneously without movement of hands, feet, head or body for at least one second before the snap.

  ILLEGAL SHIFT  

7.2.6 SITUATION A: A comes to its line of scrimmage with the quarterback A1 standing behind the snapper. Upon signal, A2 goes in motion and then A1 assumes his final position under the snapper. RULING: When the ball is snapped, it will be an illegal shift because A2 did not reset for one second along with the other A players after A1 shifted. Motion cannot be started legally until all 11 players of A have been set simultaneously for at least one second. (2-39)

7.2.6 SITUATION B: Backs A1 and A2 simultaneously move to new backfield positions prior to the snap. In less than one second after both are stationary: (a) A3 goes in motion and is in motion at the snap; or (b) the ball is snapped. RULING: Illegal shift in both (a) and (b). Following a huddle or a shift, all 11 players of A must come to a complete stop and must remain stationary simultaneously for at least one second before the snap or before a player goes in motion. (2-39)

7.2.6 SITUATION C: After A has been set for more than one second, back A1 goes in motion. While A1 is in motion, back A2 takes one step forward and then resets. A1 is still in motion when the ball is snapped two seconds after A2 reset. RULING: Illegal shift. A2’s movement was a shift and the failure of the entire team to set for at least one second after the shift and before the snap is a foul at the snap. (2-39)

ART. 7 . . . Only one A player may be in motion at the snap and then only if such motion is not toward his opponent’s goal line. Except for the player “under the snapper,” as outlined in Article 3, the player in motion shall be at least 5 yards behind his line of scrimmage at the snap if he started from any position not clearly behind the line and did not establish himself as a back by stopping for at least one full second while no part of his body is breaking the vertical plane through the waistline of his nearest teammate who is on the line of scrimmage.

  ILLEGAL MOTION, SHIFT  

7.2.7 SITUATION: The quarterback by voice command has signaled his team- mates to assume a set position while he is standing upright behind the center. The quarterback steps forward and places his hands under the center to receive the snap: (a) at the instant the snap is made; or (b) which is made after he is motionless, but prior to one second having elapsed; or (c) which is made after he is motionless for one second; or (d) which is made after he is motionless for one second, but while he is stepping backward with one foot as the snap is made. RULING: In (a), it is illegal motion. In (b), it is an illegal shift. In (c), it is legal. In (d), it is legal unless a teammate is also in motion at the snap. COMMENT: If the quarterback drops his hands under the snapper without stepping forward, it is a shift and not motion. (2-39, 7-2-6)

ART. 8 . . . Any A player on his line of scrimmage may not advance a planned loose ball in the vicinity of the snapper.

  PLANNED LOOSE BALL  

7.2.8 SITUATION: Between downs, quarterback A1 informs the referee via a “pre- arranged” confidential signal that during the next down A will run its trick play involving a planned loose ball. (a) Snapper A2 does not release the ball and guard A3 takes it and begins to advance; or (b) A1 takes the snap and places the ball on the ground after which guard A3, who has legally turned and faced his own goal line, scoops it up and advances; or (c) A1 takes the snap and hands the ball to guard A3, who has legally turned to face his own goal line. RULING: In (a), it is a snap-infraction, dead-ball foul whether or not the referee was informed. In (b), it is an illegal planned loose ball play even though the referee was notified (7-2-8). In (c), it is a legal play. (7-2-4) COMMENT: In all cases, the referee should inform A1 immediately that a planned loose ball play is not legal and thus attempt to prevent a foul.

PENALTY: Arts. 1, 2, 3, 5a – Illegal formation – (S19) – 5 yards; Art. 4 – illegal snap – (S7-19) – 5 yards; Art. 5b, c, d – illegal numbering – (S19) – 5 yards; Art. 6 – illegal shift – (S20) – 5 yards; Art. 7 – illegal motion – (S20) – 5 yards; Art. 8 – planned loose-ball infraction – (S19) – 5 yards.


  SECTION 3 HANDING THE BALL  

ART. 1 . . . Any player may hand the ball backward at any time.

ART. 2 . . . No player may hand the ball forward except during a scrimmage down before a change of possession, provided both players are in or behind the neutral zone and it is to:

  1. A lineman who has clearly faced his end line by moving both feet in a half-turn and is at least 1 yard behind his line when he receives the ball.
  2. A back or a teammate who, at the snap, was on an end of his line and was not the snapper nor adjacent to the snapper.
ILLEGAL HANDING

7.3.2 SITUATION: Quarterback A1 takes the snap and hands the ball forward to back A2. The handing is done: (a) behind; or (b) in; or (c) beyond the neutral zone. RULING: Legal in (a) and (b), but a foul in (c). COMMENT: The position of the ball determines whether it is behind, in or beyond the neutral zone, however, the position of the player recovering the ball determines whether or not it is forward handing. (2-19-2, 2-19-3)

ART. 3 . . . During a scrimmage down after a change of team possession, no player may hand the ball forward to a teammate.

PENALTY: Arts. 2, 3 – Illegal handing – (S35-9) – 5 yards and loss of down. The loss-of-down penalty does not apply when there has been a change of team possession.


  SECTION 4 FUMBLE AND BACKWARD PASS  

ART. 1 . . . During any down, any player in possession may make a backward pass or may lose player possession through a fumble.

ART. 2 . . . If a fumble or a backward pass is caught or recovered by any player, he may advance.

ART. 3 . . . The ball belongs to the passing or fumbling team unless lost after fourth down if a fumble or a backward pass:

  1. Goes out of bounds between the goal lines; or
  2. Becomes dead inbounds while no player is in possession; or
  3. Becomes dead inbounds while opponents are in joint possession.

  JOINT POSSESSION  

7.4.3 SITUATION: An offensive and defensive player simultaneously gain possession of a live ball which is a: (a) legal forward pass and both players are touching inbounds; or (b) scrimmage kick muffed by R beyond the neutral zone; or (c) fumble by A1 on a running play. RULING: The down is ended in each situation. In (a), complete pass and the ball belongs to A at the spot of completion. In (b), the ball belongs to R at the spot of recovery, and in (c), the ball belongs to A at the spot of recovery. (6-2-6, 7-5-4)

ART. 4 . . . If a fumble or a backward pass is out of bounds behind a goal line, the ball belongs to the team defending that goal and the result is either a touchback or a safety.


  SECTION 5 FORWARD-PASS CLASSIFICATION  

ART. 1 . . . It is a legal forward pass, if during a scrimmage down and before team possession has changed, a player of A throws the ball with both feet of the passer in or behind the neutral zone when the ball is released. Only one forward pass may be thrown during the down.

  ILLEGAL FORWARD PASS  

7.5.1 SITUATION: Quarterback A1 runs wide and while near the neutral zone, decides to throw a forward pass. As A1 releases the ball: (a) his foremost foot is touching the ground in the neutral zone, or (b) his foremost foot is breaking the plane of B’s side of the neutral zone. RULING: In (a), it is a legal forward pass. In (b), it is an illegal forward pass because the location of the passer’s foremost foot was beyond the neutral zone. (7-5-2b)

ART. 2 . . . An illegal forward pass is a foul. Illegal forward passes include:

  1. A pass after team possession has changed during the down.
  2. A pass from beyond the neutral zone.
  3. A second and subsequent forward pass(es) thrown during a down.
  4. A pass intentionally thrown into an area not occupied by an eligible offensive receiver, or thrown incomplete to save loss of yardage or to conserve time.
    EXCEPTIONS:
    1. It is legal for a player positioned directly behind the snapper to conserve time by intentionally throwing the ball forward to the ground immediately after receiving the snap that has neither been muffed nor touched the ground.
    2. It is legal for a player to conserve yardage by intentionally throwing an incomplete forward pass if all of the following conditions are met:
      1. The passer has possessed the ball beyond the lateral boundary of the free-blocking zone as established at the snap;
      2. The pass reaches the neutral zone, including the extension beyond the sideline; and
      3. The passer is the only player to possess the ball after the snap ends.

7.5.2 SITUATION A: Quarterback A1 drops back to pass, but is unable to find a receiver and: (a) throws the ball to the ground; or (b) throws the ball to the ground in an area occupied by only defensive players; or (c) deliberately throws the ball at the legs of onrushing defensive linemen. In (b) and (c), the pass does not meet any of the 7-5-2d EXCEPTIONS. RULING: An illegal forward pass in (a), (b) and (c). Penalize A 5 yards from where the run ended and count the down in each situation. (7-5-2b, d)

7.5.2 SITUATION B: Quarterback A1 is positioned directly behind the snapper. (a) A1 muffs the snap, but is able to take the ball from the ground and spike it forward as in 7-5-2d EXCEPTION 1; or (b) A1 receives the snap, but his forward spike attempt hits snapper A2’s leg and ricochets into the air. A1 catches the ball and immediately spikes it forward. RULING: An illegal forward pass in both (a) and (b). Once the ball touches the ground, 7-5-2d EXCEPTION 1 is not permitted as the ball may not be grounded legally thereafter using this exception. In order to be a “direct snap” and therefore meet the allowance within the exception, the ball must go immediately from the snapper to the person in position to take the snap without being muffed, fumbled or otherwise mishandled.

7.5.2 SITUATION C: Quarterback A1 drops back to pass and whether or not under defensive pressure, throws the ball forward: (a) at the feet of two onrushing defensive linemen; or (b) inbounds or out of bounds to an area not occupied by an eligible receiver. RULING: Illegal forward pass in (a). In (b), the game officials must determine if (1) the passer has been beyond the lateral boundary of the free-blocking zone as established at the snap, and (2) if the pass went beyond the neutral zone extended including the extension beyond the sideline. In (b), if both (1) and (2) were true, the pass is legal under 7-5-2d EXCEPTION 2, the down counts and there is no foul. In (b), if either (1) or (2) were not true, it is an illegal forward pass as it does not meet 7-5-2d EXCEPTION 2.

7.5.2 SITUATION D: Quarterback A1 takes the snap and hands or pitches the ball to A2 who (a) runs to the right beyond the lateral boundary of the free blocking zone as established at the snap, and throws the ball beyond the neutral zone extended and out of bounds to an area not occupied by a legal receiver; or (b) takes two steps forward and then pitches the ball back to the quarterback who scrambles to the right beyond the lateral boundary of the free blocking zone as established at the snap, and throws the ball beyond the neutral zone extended and out of bounds to an area not occupied by a legal receiver. RULING: In (a) and (b), this is an illegal forward pass that does not meet 7-5-2d EXCEPTION 2 as the passer was not the only player to possess the ball after the snap.

7.5.2 SITUATION E: Runner A1 advances 5 yards beyond the neutral zone to B’s 3-yard line where he is tackled. As he is going down, A1 simulates a fumble by tossing the ball forward into the end zone where A2 downs it. RULING: Illegal forward pass by A1. The penalty is 5 yards from the spot of the pass, plus loss of down. If A1 is contacted after releasing the ball, it is not roughing the passer since he lost that protection when he threw the pass from beyond the neutral zone. (9-4-4)

7.5.2 SITUATION F: A1 throws a legal forward pass: (a) which is tipped by B1 behind the expanded neutral zone and A1 catches the pass and then throws a second pass which is completed to A8; or (b) to A5 who is behind the line of scrim- mage and who then throws another forward pass to A11 who advances the ball for a first down. RULING: Illegal forward pass in (a) and (b). (7-5-2d EXCEPTION 1)

  FOULS PRIOR TO “SPIKE”  

7.5.2 SITUATION G: In the last few seconds of a half, A1 completes a pass to A2 at B’s 20-yard line. The ball is properly spotted and the referee marks it ready for play and signals the game clock to start. In the rush and confusion to stop the game clock, A’s snapper and quarterback A1 are the only A players in legal position when the ball is snapped and legally “spiked” by A1. A foul for illegal formation occurs at the snap. RULING: The “spike” is legal. Since the spike is legal, the only applicable foul is for illegal formation. The reason for the game clock stoppage was the incomplete forward pass; therefore, the game clock shall start on the snap. COMMENT: The determination by the referee as to whether or not the act was intended to illegally conserve time must be applied using Rule 3-4-6. (7-5-2 EXCEPTION)

7.5.2 SITUATION H: Quarterback A1 is in shotgun formation directly behind the snapper. A2 is legally in motion behind but parallel to the line of scrimmage. At the snap, (a) A1 receives the snap and sensing an all-out blitz, throws the ball to the ground; or (b) A2 who is directly behind the snapper at the time receives the snap and sensing a loss of yardage, immediately throws the ball to the ground. RULING: Illegal forward pass in (a) and (b). The exception purposefully and intentionally only allows for a player to throw the ball to the ground to conserve time, not to conserve yardage.

 

TABLE 7-5-2
SUMMARY OF LEGAL AND ILLEGAL FORWARD PASSES

LEGAL FORWARD PASSES ILLEGAL FORWARD PASSES
From in or behind the neutral zone.
  1. After team possession has changed during the down.
  2. A pass from beyond the neutral zone.
  3. A second and subsequent forward pass(es) thrown during a down.
  4. A pass intentionally thrown into an area not occupied by an eligible offensive receiver, or thrown incomplete to save loss of yardage or to conserve time.
    EXCEPTION 1: It is legal for a player positioned directly behind the snapper to conserve time by intentionally throwing the ball forward to the ground immediately after receiving the snap that has neither been muffed nor touched the ground.
    EXCEPTION 2: It is legal for a player to conserve yardage by intentionally throwing an incomplete forward pass if all of the following conditions are met:
    1. The passer has possessed the ball beyond the lateral boundary of the free-blocking zone as established at the snap;
    2. The pass reaches the neutral zone, including the extension beyond the sideline; and c. The passer is the only player to possess the ball after the snap ends.

ART. 3 . . . If the penalty for an illegal forward pass is accepted, measurement is from the spot of such forward pass. If the offended team declines the distance penalty, it has the choice of having the down counted at the spot of the illegal incomplete forward pass or (if the illegal forward pass is caught or intercepted) of having the ball put in play as determined by the action which followed the catch.

ART. 4 . . . A forward pass, legal or illegal, is complete and the ball may be advanced when caught by any player of A or B. If a forward pass is caught simultaneously by two opponents, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the passing team.

  CATCH/NO CATCH/SIMULTANEOUS CATCH  

7.5.4 SITUATION A: Airborne A1 and B1 simultaneously gain possession of a legal forward pass near the goal line and return to the ground where: (a) they alight in the field of play inbounds; or (b) they alight in the end zone with the ball; or (c) A1 lands in the end zone and B1 in the field of play inbounds; (d) B1 comes down in the end zone and A1 lands in the field of play; or (e) A1 lands in the end zone and B1 lands out of bounds. RULING: In (a), the ball is dead and belongs to A at the yard line through the foremost point of the ball when A1 and B1 contacted the ground inbounds. It is a touchdown in (b). In (c) and (d), the ball becomes dead and the pass is complete at the yard line through the foremost point of the ball when the players contacted the ground inbounds. If the ball has penetrated the plane of the goal line in either (c) or (d), it is a touchdown. In (e) incomplete pass. COMMENT: In order for there to be a simultaneous catch, opposing players must have simultaneous joint possession, and both must be in contact with the ground inbounds. The players’ contact with the ground does not have to be exactly simultaneous. If A1 and B1 jointly possess a forward pass while airborne and both land inbounds, it is a completed pass, the ball is dead at that point and belongs to A. If there is simultaneous recovery of a fumble, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the team which last had possession. If there is simultaneous recovery of a free kick or scrimmage kick, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the receiving team. (4-2-2c, 7-5-4, 8-2-1)

7.5.4 SITUATION B: A pass from A1 is possessed by A2 while he is in the air above B’s end zone. A2 loses control when he is contacted by B1 while in the air. The ball: (a) falls to the ground; or (b) is caught by eligible A3 in B’s end zone; or (c) is intercepted and downed by B2 in the end zone. RULING: In (a), the pass is incomplete. In (b), it is a touchdown and in (c), it is a touchback. (8-2-1b, 8-5-3c)

7.5.4 SITUATION C: B1 is near the sideline but has not been out of bounds and attempts to intercept a pass while in the air and: (a) the ball touches one hand and then deflects to the other without securing possession, after which B1 lands with his first foot inbounds and second simultaneously out of bounds; or (b) deflects the ball into the air, but is able to catch it after he comes down inbounds; or (c) is juggling the ball as he takes two steps inbounds and then out of bounds. RULING: Interception in (b), but not in (a) and (c).

7.5.4 SITUATION D: A passed or fumbled ball is near a sideline. B1 gets the ball in his hands while his foot is on the sideline. RULING: The ball becomes dead when touched. Since touching precedes player possession, there is no “catch” or “recovery.” (2-36-2)

7.5.4 SITUATION E: B1 leaps in the air over his 2-yard line and has A’s pass in his grasp. He returns to the ground in his end zone inbounds. RULING: B1’s interception was not completed until he returned to the ground inbounds. He now possesses a live ball in his own end zone and may attempt to run it out or down it in the end zone for a touchback. Momentum is not involved.

7.5.4 SITUATION F: B1 leaps in the air over his 2-yard line and has A’s pass in his grasp. He returns to the ground on his 1-yard line and his momentum carries him back into his end zone where he is downed. RULING: Since B’s interception was made in the field of play and his momentum carried him into his end zone where he is downed, the momentum exception is in effect and the spot of the interception, B’s 1-yard line, is the spot from which B will start its series.

7.5.4 SITUATION G: A8, in B’s end zone, leaps in the air to catch a pass and is contacted by B2 forcing A8 to come down inbounds on B’s 1-yard line where he is downed. RULING: Touchdown, since A8’s forward progress was stopped over B’s end zone by B2’s contact. Even though the catch was not made until A8 came down inbounds, his forward progress was stopped by B2’s contact resulting in A possessing the live ball in its opponent’s end zone, hence, a touchdown.

7.5.4 SITUATION H: A pass from A1 is thrown near the intersection of the sideline and the goal line. A2, running toward the goal line, leaps and possesses the pass at the 3-yard line and is forcibly: (a) contacted from the front by B1 (not carried) so that A2 contacts the ground out of bounds opposite B’s 4-yard line; or (b) contacted from the side by B1 and A2 first contacts the ground out of bounds opposite the 3-yard line; or (c) grasped from behind and carried by B1 so that first contact with the ground by A2 is out of bounds 1 yard beyond the goal line; or (d) tackled from behind by B1 so that A2 first contacts the ground in the end zone. RULING: In (a) and (b), it is an incomplete pass. In (c) and (d), it is a touchdown. (2-4-1, 2-15-1, 2-15-2, 8-2-1)

7.5.4 SITUATION I: Airborne A1 jumps high in an attempt to catch a legal forward pass. While still in the air, he is tackled by B1 and held momentarily without touching the ground before he is carried (a) backward toward A’s goal line, or (b) forward toward B’s goal line. He then lands out of bounds with the ball. RULING: In (a) and (b), completed pass as forward progress was stopped. The ball is dead at the yard line where the forward progress of the receiver was stopped. (2-4-1, 4-2-2a) 

ART. 5 . . . A forward pass, legal or illegal, is incomplete and the ball becomes dead when the pass touches the ground or goes out of bounds. It is also incomplete when a player in the air possesses the pass and alights so that his first contact with the ground or with anything other than a player or game official is on or outside a boundary. When an incompletion occurs the down counts unless the pass is after a change of possession. If the pass is legal, the passing team next snaps the ball at the previous spot, unless lost after fourth down.

TABLE 7-5-4, 5
SUMMARY OF COMPLETED AND INCOMPLETETD FORWARD PASSES

COMPLETED FORWARD PASS INCOMPLETE FORWARD PASS
a. Pass caught by the passer’s eligible receiver; ball remains live. a. Pass which touches the ground.
b. Pass caught by the passer’s ineligible receiver; ball remains live. b. Pass which goes out of bounds
c. Any intercepted pass; ball remains live. c. Pass possessed by a player who is in the air but first touches the ground out of bounds (Ball becomes dead in all of these cases).
d. Pass simultaneously caught by opponents; ball becomes dead.  
 

ART. 6 . . . Pass eligibility rules apply only to a legal forward pass. The following players are eligible pass receivers:

  1. All A players eligible by position and number including those who, at the time of the snap, are on the ends of their scrimmage line or legally behind the line (possible total of six) and are numbered 0-49 or 80-99. (7-2-5b EXCEPTION 2)
  2. All A players become eligible when B touches a legal forward pass.
  3. All B players are eligible.
  4. A player who is eligible at the start of the down remains eligible throughout the down.
  RESTRICTIONS END  

7.5.6 SITUATION: Quarterback A1 drops back and throws a forward pass to- ward the sideline to A2 who is behind the neutral zone. A2 then throws a forward pass to A3 15 yards downfield. (a) B1 blocks A2 behind the line prior to A2 touching the ball; or (b) B1 tackles A2 prior to A2 touching the pass; or (c) B1 pushes A3 prior to A3 touching the pass, and B1 intercepts. RULING: Legal block in (a) since pass interference restrictions for B do not apply to a forward pass that does not cross the neutral zone. In (b), it is a holding foul by B1. Legal contact in (c) since there are no pass interference restrictions on an illegal forward pass. It should be noted that A2 has also committed a foul for an illegal forward pass. 

ART. 7 . . . Pass interference restrictions only apply beyond the neutral zone and only if the legal forward pass, untouched by B in or behind the neutral zone, crosses the neutral zone. Pass interference restrictions are in effect for all A and B players until the ball is touched or the pass is incomplete.

7.5.7 SITUATION A: A1 throws a screen pass behind the neutral zone. The pass is touched in or behind the neutral zone by B1 and continues in flight beyond the neutral zone: (a) A2 has gone downfield and blocks B2 before the pass is touched; or (b) ineligible A2 is downfield beyond the neutral zone before A1’s pass is in flight. RULING: Legal in both (a) and (b) as B1 touched the pass in or behind the neutral zone. COMMENT: The key to whether the action in (a) or (b) is legal is determined by the fact that the pass was touched by B in or behind the neutral zone, even though it went beyond the neutral zone. In both (a) and (b) A2’s being downfield and blocking is not restricted because the pass was touched by B in or behind the neutral zone. Therefore, A2 is not an ineligible downfield illegally.

7.5.7 SITUATION B: A1 drops back and throws a screen pass to flanker A2 who is behind the neutral zone. B2 has come across the line and deflects the pass so that its flight is altered and the pass goes beyond the neutral zone. Ineligible A8 has gone beyond the expanded neutral zone before the pass is released. RULING: Since B has touched the forward pass in or behind the neutral zone A8 is not downfield illegally.

7.5.7 SITUATION C: A1 throws a pass that is touched behind the neutral zone by B7. The pass touches ineligible A2 beyond the neutral zone and falls incomplete. RULING: Illegal touching has not occurred since B touched the ball in or behind the neutral zone.

ART. 8 . . . Pass interference restrictions on a legal forward pass begin for:

  1. A with the snap.
  2. B when the ball leaves the passer’s hand.

7.5.8 SITUATION: A81 goes downfield and pushes off B22 (pushes him away from A81 to help him make his cut) and cuts toward the sideline and catches A1’s pass. A81’s push occurred prior to B4 tipping the pass. RULING: This contact can be ruled pass interference as restrictions for Team A begin at the snap. 

ART. 9 . . . Pass interference restrictions on a legal forward pass end for:

  1. All eligible A players when the pass has been touched by any player.
  2. All ineligible A players when B touches the pass, however it is not pass interference for ineligible A players to use hands and arms in a legal block to ward off an opponent.
  3. All B players when the pass has been touched by any player.
  4. All players when the pass is incomplete.

7.5.9 SITUATION: On second down, quarterback A1 drops back and throws an underhand shovel pass forward to back A2 who is behind the neutral zone. A2 throws the ball back to A1. A1 then throws the ball forward beyond the neutral zone to A3. B1 blocks A3 away from the ball and intercepts A1’s pass. RULING: Legal contact by B1 and an illegal forward pass by A1. Pass interference restrictions for B players ended when the shovel pass was touched by any player. B will likely decline the penalty and keep the ball. If the foul for illegal forward pass is accepted, it is 5 yards and a loss of down from the spot of the pass, but A retains the ball.

ART. 10 . . . It is forward-pass interference if any player of A or B who is beyond the neutral zone interferes with an eligible opponent’s opportunity to move toward, catch or bat the pass.

  PASS INTERFERENCE – INELIGIBLE DOWNFIELD  

7.5.10 SITUATION E: A1 throws a screen pass behind the neutral zone. The pass is touched by B1 and continues in flight beyond the neutral zone: (a) A2 has gone downfield and blocks B2 before the pass is touched; or (b) ineligible A3 is downfield beyond the neutral zone before A1’s pass is in flight. RULING: Legal in both (a) and (b) because B1 touched the pass in or behind the neutral zone. (2-31-3, 7-5-6b, 7-5-12)

ART. 11 . . . It is not forward-pass interference if:

  1. Unavoidable contact occurs when two or more eligibles are making a simultaneous, bona fide attempt to move toward, catch or bat the pass.
  2. Contact by A is immediately made on a B lineman and the contact does not continue beyond the expanded neutral zone.
  3. Contact by B is obviously away from the direction of the pass.

7.5.11 SITUATION A: A11 is running a deep post pattern and B11 (a) contacts A11 knocking him off his intended path or (b) grabs A11’s jersey. In both situations, the pass has already crossed the neutral zone and the pass is clearly away from the intended receiver. RULING: In (a) there is no foul for pass interference, and (b) there is a foul for illegal holding.

7.5.11 SITUATION B: A11 runs straight up the field and after the ball has left the passer’s hand, B9 illegally blocks A11 and throws him off his pattern. The pass is completed to A10 who was clearly on the opposite side of the field. RULING: There is no pass interference call on B9; however, a flag should have been dropped for the illegal block.

ART. 12 . . . Ineligible A players may not advance beyond the expanded neutral zone on a legal forward pass play before a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone is in flight. If B touches the pass in or behind the neutral zone, this restriction is terminated.

7.5.12 SITUATION A: At the snap, interior lineman A1 moves about 3 yards downfield and finding no one to block, retreats behind the neutral zone and blocks for A2 who eventually throws a forward pass which crosses the neutral zone. RULING: A1 is an ineligible who is illegally downfield. The prohibition against ineligibles downfield for A starts at the snap, and the fact A1 was no longer downfield when the pass was thrown has no bearing on the ruling. COMMENT: Ineligible A players may advance into the expanded neutral zone during a down in which a legal forward pass is thrown, but may not advance beyond the expanded neutral zone.

7.5.12 SITUATION B: Before A1 throws a pass beyond the neutral zone, A2 contacts lineman B1 on his line and drives him back 4 yards. RULING: Offensive pass interference by A2 because he has driven B1 beyond the expanded neutral zone. (2-28-2)

ART. 13 . . . An ineligible A player has illegally touched a forward pass if he bats, muffs or catches a legal forward pass, unless the pass has first been touched by B.

  ILLEGAL TOUCHING  

7.5.13 SITUATION A: Ineligible receiver A2 is behind, in or beyond his neutral zone and has committed no act against a defender that could be ruled pass interference when a forward pass by A1: (a) accidentally strikes him in the back; or (b) is muffed by him; or (c) is caught by him. RULING: In (a), there is no foul for illegal touching. In (b) and (c), it is illegal touching. The acts in both (b) and (c) are intentional and not accidental as in (a). COMMENT: Game officials should be very clear in explaining penalty options if the same act constitutes more than one foul as listed above, as each of the fouls has a different penalty.

  LINEMAN BECOMES ELIGIBLE  

7.5.13 SITUATION B: A1’s forward pass is deflected by B1 and then caught by interior lineman A2 behind the neutral zone. RULING: No foul has occurred as A2 became an eligible receiver after B1 touched the pass.

7.5 COMMENT: The following chart should help game officials distinguish between the various possible fouls that can occur when an ineligible receiver touches or is touched by the ball, including accidentally striking, muffing or catching, and with basic fouls regarding ineligibility. ENZ refers to expanded neutral zone.

TABLE 7.5
Pass Interference (7-5-7, 7-5-10) Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs behind the neutral zone? Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs in neutral zone (including ENZ)? Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs beyond the ENZ?
Accidentally striking ineligible No No If contact is made against an opponent that is deemed to be pass interference, yes, 15 yards. If no interference, no.
Muff by ineligible No No If contact is made against an opponent that is deemed to be pass interference, yes, 15 yards. If no interference, no.
Catch by ineligible No No If contact is made against an opponent that is deemed to be pass interference yes, 15 yards. If no interference, no.
Ineligible Downfield (7-5-12) Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs behind neutral zone? Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs in neutral zone (including ENZ?) Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs beyond the ENZ?
Accidentally striking ineligible No No If not yet touched, yes, 5 yards
Muff by ineligible No No If not yet touched, yes, 5 yards
Catch by ineligible No No If not yet touched, yes, 5 yards
Illegal Touching (7-5-13) Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs behind neutral zone? Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs in  neutral zone (including ENZ?) Is it a foul if the act/touching occurs beyond the ENZ?
Accidentally striking ineligible No No No
Muff by ineligible Yes, 5 yards, loss of down Yes, 5 yards, loss of down Yes, 5 yards, loss of down
Catch by ineligible Yes, 5 yards, loss of down yes, 5 yards, loss of down yes, 5 yards loss of down

PENALTY:
Art. 2a – Illegal forward pass – (S35) – 5 yards;
Arts. 2b, c – Illegal forward pass – (S35-9) – 5 yards plus loss of down;
Art. 2d – intentional grounding – (S36-9) – 5 yards plus loss of down;
Art. 10 – Pass interference – (S33) – 15 yards.
Art. 12 – Ineligible downfield – (S37) – 5 yards.
Art. 13 – Illegal touching – (S16-9) – 5 yards plus loss of down.

TABLE 7-5
SUMMARY OF FOULS THAT CAN OCCUR DURING FORWARD PASS PLAYS AND THEIR PENALTIES AND ENFORCEMENT SPOTS

FOUL PENALTY ENFORCEMENT SPOT

1. Illegal Forward Pass (7-5-2)

  1. Pass after team possession has changed during the down.
  2. Pass from beyond the neutral zone.
  3. A second or subsequent forward pass during the down.
  4. Pass intentionally thrown into an area not loss of down occupied by eligible offensive receiver, or intentionally thrown incomplete to save loss of yardage or conserve time.
    EXCEPTION 1: It is legal for a player positioned directly behind the snapper to conserve time by intentionally throwing the ball forward to the ground immediately after receiving the snap that has neither been muffed nor touched the ground.
    EXCEPTION 2: It is legal for a player to conserve yardage by intentionally throwing an incomplete forward pass if all of the following conditions are met:
    1. The passer has possessed the ball beyond the lateral boundary of the free-blocking zone as established at the snap;
    2. The pass reaches the neutral zone including the extension beyond the sideline; and
    3. The passer is the only player to possess the ball after the snap ends.

a: Loss of 5 yards

b, c and d: Loss of 5 yards and loss of down

End of Run

2. Forward Pass Interference (7-5-10)

Restrictions apply only to a legal pass, untouched by B in or behind the neutral zone which crosses the neutral zone and interference may occur only beyond the neutral zone.

  1. A hinders B. (Restriction begins with the snap.)
  2. B hinders A. (Restriction begins when the pass is thrown.)

a: Loss of 15 yards

b: Loss of 15 yards

Previous Spot

Previous Spot

3. Ineligible Receiver Downfield (7-5-12)

Ineligible A players may not advance across the expanded neutral zone before a legal forward pass which crosses the neutral zone is in flight unless touched by B in or behind the neutral zone.

Loss of 5 yards Previous Spot

4. Illegal Touching by Ineligible (7-5-13)

A forward pass, batted, muffed or caught by an ineligible A player who is behind, in or beyond the neutral zone.

Loss of 5 yards and loss of down Basic Spot