Rule 10 - Penalty Enforcement
SECTION 1. Penalties Completed
Article 1 - How and When Completed
a. A penalty is completed when it is accepted, declined, offset or cancelled according to rule, or when the choice is obvious to the referee.
b. Any penalty may be declined, but a disqualified player must leave the game whether the penalty is accepted or declined (Rule 2-27-12).
c. When a foul is committed, the penalty shall be completed before the ball is declared ready for play for any ensuing down.
d. Penalties as stated are not enforced if in conflict with other rules.
Article 2 - Simultaneous with Snap
Article 3 - Live-Ball Fouls by the Same Team
Article 4 - Offsetting Fouls
If live-ball fouls by both teams are reported to the referee, the fouls offset and the down is repeated. (A.R. 10-1-4:I and VII) Any player who commits a foul that mandates disqualification must leave the game.
1. When there is a change of team possession during a down, and the team last gaining possession had not fouled before last gaining possession, it may refuse offsetting fouls and thereby retain possession after completion of the penalty for its foul. (A.R. 10-1-4:II-VII)
2. When all Team B fouls that occur before possession changes are governed by postscrimmage kick rules, Team B may refuse offsetting fouls and accept postscrimmage kick enforcement.
3. Rule 10-2-7-c (during a try or extra period after Team B possession).
Article 5 - Dead-Ball Fouls
Article 6 - Live-Ball – Dead-Ball Fouls
a. Live-ball fouls do not offset dead-ball fouls.
b. When a live-ball foul by one team is followed by one or more dead-ball fouls (including live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls) by an opponent or by the same team, the penalties are administered separately and in the order of occurrence. (A.R. 10-1-6:I-VI)
Article 7 - Interval Fouls
SECTION 2. Enforcement Procedures
Article 1 - Enforcement Spots
a. For many fouls, the enforcement spot is specified in the statement of the penalty. When the enforcement spot is not specified in the statement of the penalty, the enforcement spot is determined by the Three-and-One Principle (Rules 2-33 and
b. Possible enforcement spots are: the previous spot, the spot of the foul, the succeeding spot, the spot where the run ends, and — for scrimmage kicks only — the postscrimmage kick spot.
Article 2 - Determining the Enforcement Spot and the Basic Spot
a. Dead-ball fouls. The enforcement spot for a foul committed when the ball is dead is the succeeding spot.
b. Fouls by Team A behind the neutral zone. For the following fouls committed by Team A behind the neutral zone, the penalty is enforced at the previous spot: illegal use of hands, holding, illegal block and personal foul (Exception: If the foul occurs in Team A’s end zone the penalty is a safety). However, see Rule 6-3-13 for kicking team fouls during scrimmage kick plays.
c. The Three-and-One Principle (Rule 2-33) is as follows:
1. When the team in possession commits a foul behind the basic spot, the penalty is enforced at the spot of the foul.
2. When the team in possession commits a foul beyond the basic spot, the penalty is enforced at the basic spot.
3. When the team not in possession commits a foul either behind or beyond the basic spot, the penalty is enforced at the basic spot.
d. The following are basic spots for the various categories of plays:
1. Running plays.
(a) Previous spot, when the related run ends behind the neutral zone.
(b) End of the related run, when the related run ends beyond the neutral zone.
(c) End of the related run, on running plays that have no neutral zone.
2. Running plays when the run ends in the end zone after change of team possession (not on a try).
(a) Succeeding spot, when a foul occurs after a change of team possession in the end zone and the result of the play is a touchback.
(b) Goal line, when a foul occurs after a change of team possession in the field of play and the related run ends in the end zone (Exception: Rule 8-5-1-Exceptions).
(c) Goal line, when a foul occurs after a change of team possession in the end zone, the related run ends in the end zone, and the result of the play is not a touchback.
3. Pass plays.
Previous spot, on legal forward pass plays.
4. Kick plays.
(a) Previous spot, on legal kick plays unless the foul is governed by postscrimmage kick rules.
(b) Postscrimmage kick spot, if the foul is governed by postscrimmage kick rules.
e. For Team B fouls during a legal forward pass play:
1. Penalty enforcement for Team B for personal fouls is at the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone and there is no change of team possession during the down (Rule 7-3-12). (A.R. 7-3-12:I) (A.R. 9-1-2:III)
2. If the pass crosses the neutral zone and Team B commits a contact foul against an eligible receiver beyond the neutral zone before the ball is touched, the penalty includes an automatic first down (Rule 9-3-5).
Article 3 - Postscrimmage Kick Enforcement
a. Under postscrimmage kick enforcement rules, fouls by Team B that satisfy the conditions in paragraph b (below) are treated as if Team B had been in possession at the time the foul was committed, even though by Rule 2-4-1-b-3 team possession had not changed.
b. Postscrimmage kick enforcement applies only to fouls by Team B during a scrimmage kick and only under the following conditions:
1. The kick is not during a try, a successful field goal, or in an extra period. (A.R. 10-2-3:IV)
2. The ball crosses the neutral zone.
3. The foul occurs before the end of the kick. (A.R. 10-2-3:I, II and V)
4. Team B will next put the ball in play.
If these conditions are all met, the penalty is enforced according to the Three-and-One Principle. Team B is taken as the team in possession with the postscrimmage kick spot as the basic spot (Rule 10-2-2-c). See Rule 2-25-11 for the postscrimmage kick spot. (A.R. 10-2-3:I-VII)
Article 4 - Fouls by Team A During Kicks
Article 5 - Fouls During or After a Touchdown, Field Goal or Try
a. Fouls by the nonscoring team during a down that ends in a touchdown (not on the try).
1. Fifteen-yard penalties for personal fouls and for unsportsmanlike conduct fouls are enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff, at the option of the scoring team. If there is no kickoff, the accepted penalty is enforced on the try.
2. Five- and 10-yard penalties are not enforced on the try or the succeeding kickoff. Such penalties are declined by rule unless enforcement is made possible by illegal touching of a kick during the down. (A.R. 6-3-2:III-IV)
b. Penalties for defensive pass interference fouls on a try from the three-yard line are enforced one-half the distance to the goal line. If the try is successful, the penalty is declined by rule.
c. When a foul(s) occurs after a touchdown and before the ball is ready for play on the try or there was a live-ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul on the touchdown play, enforcement is on the try or the succeeding kickoff, at the option of the offended team. If there is no kickoff, the accepted penalty is enforced on the try. (A.R. 3-2-3:V)
d. Penalties for live-ball fouls during field goal plays are administered by rule. When the field goal is successful, Team A shall have the option of cancelling the score and have the penalty enforced from the previous spot or declining the penalty(ies) and accepting the score. Team A may accept the score with penalties for personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls enforced on the succeeding kickoff or from the succeeding spot in extra periods.
e. Penalties for fouls during and after a try down are administered under Rules 8-3-3, 8-3-4, 8-3-5 and 10-2-5-b. (A.R. 3-2-3:VI-VII)
f. Distance penalties for fouls by either team may not extend a team’s free kick restraining line behind its five-yard line. Penalties that would otherwise place the free kick restraining line behind a team’s five-yard line are enforced from the next succeeding spot.
Article 6 - Half-Distance Enforcement Procedures
Article 7 - Special Enforcement of Post-Possession Fouls
In extra periods or during a try, fouls after a change of team possession have special enforcement.
a. Penalties against either team are declined by rule. (Exception: Penalties for flagrant personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, dead-ball personal fouls and live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls are enforced on the succeeding play.)
b. A score by a team committing a foul during the down is cancelled. (Exception: Live-ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul.) (A.R. 8-3-2:VII)
c. If both teams foul during the down and Team B had not fouled before the change of possession, the fouls cancel and the down is not repeated. On a try, the try is over.