SECTION 7. Responsibility and Impetus
ARTICLE 1. Responsibility
The team responsible for the ball being out of bounds behind a goal line or being dead in the possession of a player on, above or behind a goal line is the team whose player carries the ball or imparts an impetus to it that forces it on, above or across the goal line, or is responsible for a loose ball being on, above or behind the goal line.
ARTICLE 2. Initial Impetus
- The impetus imparted by a player who kicks, passes, snaps or fumbles the ball shall be considered responsible for the ball’s progress in any direction even though its course is deflected or reversed after striking the ground or after touching an official or a player of either team. (A.R. 6-3-4:III) (A.R. 8-5-1:II, VI and VIII) (A.R. 8-7-2:I-IV)
- Initial impetus is considered expended and the responsibility for the ball’s progress is charged to a player:
- If he kicks a ball not in player possession or bats a loose ball after it strikes the ground.
- If the ball comes to rest and he gives it new impetus by any contact with it, other than through forced touching (Rule 2-11-4-c).
- A loose ball retains its original status when there is new impetus.
Approved ruling 8-7-2
- Ball carrier A1, advancing toward Team B’s goal line, fumbles when B1 bats the ball from his hand or tackles him from the rear. In either case, A1 loses possession short of the goal line, and the ball goes into Team B’s end zone where Team B recovers. RULING: Touchback. Impetus is charged to the fumble by Team A (Rule 8-6-1-a). [Cited by 7-2-4-c, 8-7-2-a]
- Any kick by Team A strikes the ground and a Team B player bats the ball across Team B’s goal line, where Team B recovers it while grounded or it goes out of bounds. RULING: New impetus is given by Team B. Safety, two points for Team A. Batting the kick is considered to have destroyed the impetus of the kick and imparted a new impetus. However, merely touching or deflecting the kick, or being struck by it, does not destroy the impetus of the kick (Rule 8-5-1-a). [Cited by 8-5-1-a, 8-7-2-a]
- Team A punts. The ball is touched by Team B (no impetus added) and crosses Team B’s goal line. Then Team B falls on the ball or the ball goes out of bounds from the end zone. RULING: Touchback. The same ruling applies if a kick in flight strikes Team B or is merely deflected by an attempted catch. Team B may recover and advance, and it is a touchback if a Team B player is downed in the end zone or goes out of bounds behind the goal line (Rule 8-6-1-a). [Cited by 8-7-2-a]
- Team A free kicks from its 35-yard line. The ball is rolling on the ground on Team B’s three-yard line when B10 kicks the ball into the end zone and over the end line. RULING: Safety, due to the new impetus by B10. Team B foul for illegally kicking the ball. If the penalty (10 yards) is accepted, the down is repeated with the free kick at the A-45. (Rules 9-4-4 and 10-2-2-d-4.)[Cited by 8-7-2-a, 9-4-4]