The following are rules regarding the offensive side of the ball.
Only five offensive players besides the quarterback may be eligible to catch a forward pass. If teams have seven a side, the center is automatically ineligible. If more than seven a side, the center and one lineman is ineligible, etc.
- Ineligible players can receive a backwards pass or a "backwards moving" handoff.
- Ineligible players can also receive a forward pass or a forward-moving handoff if behind the line of scrimmage, but only after the defense crosses the line of scrimmage (i.e. after "four mississippi", a blitz, a muffed snap or a fumble). Linemen on the team with an extra player may never receive a forward pass or forward-moving handoff.
- Ineligible players must line up on the line of scrimmage adjacent to each other, no more than an arm's distance apart, and on the line of scrimmage.
- Ineligible players must raise their hand as they approach the line so the defense can identify them before the ball is snapped.
There are no rules regarding number of players in motion; number of players on the line vs offset, etc.
Note: Offenses cannot re-huddle. Once the huddle has been broken there can be no re-huddle.
Blocking is allowed.
Downfield blocking on any forward pass is not allowed before the ball is touched downfield by receiver (or defender). For a forward pass which does not cross the line the scrimmage (e.g. screen pass or shovel pass) downfield blocking is not allowed before the ball leaves the QB's hand.
Downfield blocking immediately negates the four mississippi count, as does a muffed snap or a fumble, and the defense is free to immediately cross the line of scrimmage.
All blocking behind or at the line of scrimmage is legal.
Any number of forward passes are allowed from behind the line of scrimmage (note: a player cannot pass to himself/herself), however a team with an extra player may only throw one forward pass per play.
Once past the line of scrimmage, only backward passes are allowed.
Backward passes are allowed from any player to any player at any time including to otherwise ineligible linemen, unless teams are uneven (see rules for uneven teams).
An incomplete forward pass behind the line of scrimmage is considered a dead ball, an incomplete backwards pass, including a muffed snap, is a live ball.
A drop-kick from scrimmage is equivalent to a forward pass. No one has actually ever attempted this. Standard forward pass rules apply...
Rushing plays are legal. The defense is free to cross the line of scrimmage the moment an offensive player blocks downfield and/or the moment the ball leaves the quarterback's hand.
Note: There is no 'forward progress' given on any advance from the line of scrimmage. The ball carrier is down at the spot of the tag, regardless of the route they take.
The ball must be snapped from the ground (not from a standing position). Any "double clutching" is considered an illegal snap. The center must touch the ball to ground before snapping, even in bad weather.
If the quarterback is directly under center (for a direct snap), defenders cannot reach across the line of scrimmage for a tag, even on a blitz.
Offensive players you are offsides on a play—moving beyond the line of scrimmage before the snap—can retreat back across the line of scrimmage and re-set while the play continues without penalty. If an offsides offensive player does not re-set, an offsides penalty will be called (8 paces; replay the down).
Fumbles are live balls and can be recovered by either team. In the interests of safety it becomes the responsibility of players not involved in the pile to quickly determine who has recovered the fumble and to stop play as soon as possible. As per regular football rules, joint-possesion of a fumble (or pass) is awarded to the offense.
Offenses are allowed 35 seconds, from the time the ball is spotted back at the LOS, to plan the next pay. The defense is responsible for spotting the ball and then keeping track of the time -- counting out loud as the time gets to ten seconds ("ten, nine, eight, seven... etc."). Once the offense breaks the huddle the play clock is stopped. Re-huddling is not allowed.
If the offense stays in the huddle after the 35 seconds, a delay of game penalty will be enforced and the ball will be moved back 4 paces.
Grounding the ball
A quarterback cannot intentionally throw the ball to the ground to avoid a sack unless: The ball lands clearly over the line of scrimmage, or, in the event the ball does not cross the line of scrimmage, a legal receiver is in the area. There are no rules regarding being 'outside the tackles'.