AR 9-2-2 / Flag Pulling
I. A runner is waving their hands near their hips as a close defender attempts a flag pull. There
is no contact but the defender misses the flag.
RULING: Penalty for flag guarding. A hand (or ball) in front of the flag restricts access and creates
a disadvantage, even without contact.
NOTE: The enforcement (5 yd + LOD) will be from the SF. Example: 2 & goal at Ds 18-yd line, flag
guarding at Ds 10-yd line. Next play 3 & goal at Ds 15-yd line.
II. A runner is waving their hands near their hips as a far off defender dives towards them in a
desperate attempt to make a flag pull. There is no contact and the defender misses the flag by
RULING: No foul. There has to be a serious attempt at a flag pull to make the action of the runner
to a foul. Diving and jumping by a defender are legal.
III. A runner is running straight towards a defender and before they meet the runner bends the
upper body forward.
RULING: Offense penalty for diving (R 2-12-2). The defender has to avoid the head and body of
the runner and the runner’s actions in this instance restrict access to the runner’s flags and
create a disadvantage, regardless of contact.
IV. A runner is running straight towards a defender and extends the ball forward to gain extra
yardage before being deflagged.
RULING: Penalty for flag guarding. The defender must avoid contact with the ball in players
possession and the runner’s actions in this instance restrict access to the runner’s flags and
create a disadvantage, regardless of contact.
V. A runner is chased by a defender and before getting caught the runner extends the ball
forward to gain extra yardage before being deflagged.
RULING: No foul. As the flag pull is from behind the extension of the ball does not obstruct the
VI. A runner is spinning to avoid a flag pull from a defender. During the spin the defender is
contacted by the runner’s elbow.
RULING: Illegal contact by the runner. The spin by the runner, although not illegal in itself, means that the runner is responsible for the contact.
NOTE: The same ruling apply if a runner cause contact by dipping.
VII. A runner is dipping to avoid a flag pull from a defender with the ball held with both hands in
front of the chest and the elbows stretched sideways. The defender reaches down to pull the
flag but hits the arm of the runner which is in front of the flag due to the dip.
RULING: Flag guarding by the runner. The dip by the runner, although not illegal in itself, means
that the runner is responsible for restricting access to the flag.
VIII. A runner stops and jumps upward with a spin in order to avoid a flag pull from a defender.
RULING: Jumping by the runner. The jump by the runner restricts access to the runner’s flags by
raising their level.
IX. A runner stops and jumps sideways (or backward) with (or without) a spin to avoid a flag pull
from a defender.
RULING: No foul. A jump in any direction without significant changing the level of the flags is legal.
NOTE: To lower the flags (dipping) is legal too.
X. A runner is moving along the side line towards the corner of the end zone. The defender tries
to squeeze the runner out of bounds by a fast and steady closing of the gap to the side line but
makes no attempt at a flag pull. The runner jumps toward the goal line and, even after contact
with the defender at the 1-yd-line, is able to touch the pylon with the ball before then touching
the ground out of bounds.
RULING: It would be a touchdown, but obviously the penalty for illegal contact (aiming) by the
runner will be enforced from the SL, no score.
As long as the defender acts predictable the runner has to anticipate the defender’s action.
There is no foul for diving/jumping as there is no attempt at a flag pull.
NOTE: It would be a second foul for diving (with jumping), if the defender makes an attempt for a
flag pull. The defense could choose to accept either of the penalties (same penalty, same
XI. A runner is moving along the side line towards the corner of the end zone. The defender
comes slowly toward the runner parallel to the side line with a distance of 2 yards to it. The
runner tries to sneak through the gap past the defender. At the last moment the defender
suddenly steps into the lane of the runner and both collide.
RULING: Penalty for aiming by the defender. The runner cannot anticipate the last move of the
defender and has no chance to avoid contact, the defender has to play in a predictable way.
NOTE: If there are actions by both players and there is doubt as to who is responsible, it is a foul
by the offense.
XII. A blitzer pulls the flag of the quarterback a split second after the ball has been thrown. The
blitzer keeps the flag and starts to move toward the receiver in order to help to stop the play.
RULING: No foul for illegal flag pull as the defense has the right to make a serious attempt.
However penalty for an unsportsmanlike act for keeping the flag. The blitzer has to hand over
the flag immediately or put it on the ground before starting to run towards the receiver.
XIII. After the quarterback has thrown the ball backwards to a teammate, the blitzer continues to
rush and pulls the flag of the quarterback.
RULING: Penalty for illegal flag pull. This prevents the quarterback from running with the ball
should the ball be thrown back later on a trick play.
NOTE: If the pass crosses the scrimmage line then there would be no legal way for the
quarterback to regain possession, therefore no foul for illegal flag pull should be called. But it
could be an unsportsmanlike act provided the blitzer provokes the quarterback with the late
XIV. The defender pulls the flag right at the moment the receiver touches the ball. The receiver
muffs the ball and makes the completion at the second attempt.
RULING: No foul for illegal flag pull. The defender may anticipate the completion that would turn
the receiver into a runner and need not to wait for the catch to be complete.
NOTE: In this case the runner may not advance the ball because it is dead if a runner has fewer
than 2 flags. (R 4-1-2-g) Even when there is an illegal flag pull (before the touching of the ball),
the runner may not advance the ball after the catch but will gain extra yards by penalty.
XV. After the snap, the quarterback fakes a hand off to another offensive player who simulates
having possession of the ball. The blitzer changes direction and pulls a flag from the player
simulating being a runner. The quarterback then throws a pass to the simulated runner. The
pass is caught and the runner advances to the end zone.
RULING: No foul for illegal flag pull as the blitzer has the right to deflag a simulated runner
(R 9-2-2-d). The ball is dead where the pass is caught because the runner has fewer than 2
flags (R 4-1-2-g).