SECTION 2. Backward Pass and Fumble
ARTICLE 1. During Live Ball
A ball carrier may hand or pass the ball backward at any time, except to throw the ball intentionally out of bounds to conserve time.
- PENALTY –
- Five yards from the spot of the foul; also loss of down if by Team A before team possession changes during a scrimmage down (A.R. 3-4-3:III) [S35 and S9].
ARTICLE 2. Caught or Recovered
- When a backward pass or fumble is caught or recovered by any inbounds player, the ball continues in play. (A.R. 2-23-1:I) Exceptions:
- Rule 8-3-2-d-5 (Team A fumble on the try).
- On fourth down, before a change of team possession, when a Team A fumble is caught or recovered by a Team A player other than the fumbler, the ball is dead. If the catch or recovery is beyond the spot of the fumble, the ball is returned to the spot of the fumble. If the catch or recovery is behind the spot of the fumble, the ball remains at the spot of the catch or recovery.
- When a backward pass or fumble is caught or recovered simultaneously by opposing players, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the team last in possession (Exception: Rule 7-2-2-a Exceptions).
ARTICLE 3. After the Ball is Snapped
No offensive lineman may receive a hand-to-hand snap.
- PENALTY –
- Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot [S19].
ARTICLE 4. Out of Bounds
- Backward Pass. When a backward pass goes out of bounds between the goal lines, the ball belongs to the passing team at the out-of-bounds spot.
- Fumble. When a fumble goes out of bounds between the goal lines:
- In advance of the spot of the fumble, the ball belongs to the fumbling team at the spot of the fumble (Rule 3-3-2-e-2).
- Behind the spot of the fumble, the ball belongs to the fumbling team at the out-of-bounds spot.
- Behind or Beyond Goal Line. When a fumble or backward pass goes out of bounds behind or beyond a goal line, it is a safety or touchback depending on impetus and responsibility (Rules 8-5-1, 8-6-1 and 8-7). (A.R. 7-2-4:I) (A.R. 8-6-1:I) (A.R. 8-7-2:I)
Approved ruling 7-2-4
- B20 intercepts a legal forward pass (a) in his end zone, (b) on his three-yard line, and his momentum carries him into his end zone, or (c) in the field of play and retreats into his end zone (no momentum). In each instance, B20 fumbles in the end zone and the ball rolls forward and out of bounds on Team B’s two-yard line. RULING: The ball belongs to Team B at the spot of the fumble (Team B’s end zone); (a) touchback, (b) Team B’s ball at the three-yard line, and (c) safety (Rules 8-5-1 and 8-6-1). [Cited by 7-2-4-c, 8-5-1-a, 8-6-1-a]
ARTICLE 5. At Rest
When a backward pass or fumble comes to rest inbounds and no player attempts to secure it, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the passing or fumbling team at the dead ball spot.