NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

Fumbling in the End Zone

Rule Summary View Official Rule

Section 7

ARTICLE 3. FUMBLE

A fumble is any act, other than a pass or kick, which results in a loss of player possession.

Exception: If a runner intentionally fumbles forward, it is a forward pass (3-22).

Item 1. Recovery and Advance. Any player of either team may recover or catch a fumble and advance, either before or after the ball strikes the ground.

Item 2. Legal Recovery. For a legal recovery of a fumble, see 3-2-7.

Item 3. Out of Bounds. When a fumble goes out of bounds between the goal lines, the following shall apply:

  1. If a fumble goes backward and out of bounds, the ball is next put in play at the inbounds spot by the team that was last in possession;
  2. If a fumble goes forward and out of bounds, the ball is next put in play at the spot of the fumble by the team that was last in possession;
  3. If a ball is fumbled in a team’s own end zone and goes forward into the field of play and out of bounds, it will result in a safety, if that team provided the impetus that put the ball into the end zone (See 11-5-1 for exception for momentum). If the impetus was provided by the opponent, the play will result in a touchback; or
  4. Notwithstanding any of the above, when there has not been a change of possession during the down, and the spot of the ball is not at or beyond the line to gain after fourth down, the ball is awarded to Team B at the spot that the ball is declared dead.

Item 4. Out of Bounds in End Zone. When a fumble goes out of bounds in the end zone, the following shall apply:

  1. If a ball is fumbled in the field of play, and goes forward into the opponent’s end zone and over the end line or sideline, a touchback is awarded to the defensive team; or
  2. If a ball is fumbled in a team’s own end zone or in the field of play and goes out of bounds in the end zone, it is a safety, if that team provided the impetus that sent the ball into the end zone (See 11-5-1 for exception for momentum). If the impetus was provided by the opponent, it is a touchback.
Español