Rule 8 – Section 5 – Article 1 – How Scored
It is a safety when:
a. The ball becomes dead out of bounds behind a goal line, except from an incomplete forward pass, or becomes dead in the possession of a player on, above or behind his own goal line, or becomes dead by rule, and the defending team is responsible for the ball being there. (A.R. 6-3-1:IV) (A.R. 7-2-4:I) (A.R. 8-5-1:I-II, IV and VI-X)
(A.R. 8-7-2:II) (A.R. 9-4-1:VIII)
When in question, it is a touchback, not a safety.
Exception: It is not a safety if a player between his five-yard line and his goal line:
(a) intercepts a pass or fumble; or recovers an opponent’s fumble or backward pass; or catches or recovers an opponent’s kick; and
(b) his original momentum carries him into his own end zone; and
(c) the ball remains behind his goal line and is declared dead in his team’s possession there. This includes a fumble that goes from the end zone into the field of play and out of bounds (Rule 7-2-4-b-1).
If conditions (a)-(c) are satisfied above, the ball belongs to this player’s team at the spot where he gained possession.
b. An accepted penalty for a foul leaves the ball on or behind the offending team’s goal line. (Exception: Rules 10-2-7-c and 10-2-7-a). (A.R. 8-5-1:III) (A.R. 10-2-2:VI)
Rule 8 – Section 6 – Article 1 – When Declared
It is a touchback when:
a. The ball becomes dead out of bounds behind a goal line, except from an incomplete forward pass, or becomes dead in the possession of a player on, above, or behind his own goal line and the attacking team is responsible for the ball being there (Rule 7-2-4-c) (A.R. 7-2-4:I) (A.R. 8-6-1:I-III)
b. A kick becomes dead by rule behind the defending team’s goal line and the attacking team is responsible for the ball being there (Exception: Rule 8-4-2-b). (A.R. 6-3-4:III)
Rule 8 – Section 7 – Responsibility and Impetus
Rule 8 – Section 7 – 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.
Rule 8 – Section 7 – Article 2 – Initial Impetus
a. 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)
b. 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).
c. A loose ball retains its original status when there is new impetus.