2013 official playing rules of the national football league

Jan 14, 2014 - This edition of the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League contains all current rules governing the playing of professional football ...
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Roger Goodell, Commissioner

Preface This edition of the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League contains all current rules governing the playing of professional football that are in effect for the 2013 NFL season. Member clubs of the League may amend the rules from time to time, pursuant to the applicable voting procedures of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws. Any intra-League dispute or call for interpretation in connection with these rules will be decided by the Commissioner of the League, whose ruling will be final. Because interconference games are played throughout the preseason, regular season, and postseason in the NFL, all rules contained in this book apply uniformly to both the American and National Football Conferences. At many places in the text there are approved rulings which serve to supplement and illustrate the basic language of the rules. Each is headed by an abbreviation, followed by a number (e.g. “A.R. 3.20”). The letter “A” in an approved ruling indicates the team that puts the ball in play, and its opponents are designated by the letter “B.” Whenever a team is in possession of the ball, it is the offense, and at such time its opponent is the defense. Yard lines and players are indicated by numerals. Thus, for example: “A.R. 5.1 Third-and-10 on A30. During a run prior to an intended pass by quarterback A1, defensive player B1 holds flanker A2 on the A45…” Where the word “illegal” appears in this rule book, it is an institutional term of art pertaining strictly to actions that violate NFL playing rules. It is not meant to connote illegality under any public law or the rules or regulations of any other organization. The word “flagrant,” when used here to describe an action by a player, is meant to indicate that the degree of a violation of the rules—usually a personal foul or unnecessary roughness—is extremely objectionable, conspicuous, unnecessary, avoidable, or gratuitous. “Flagrant” in these rules does not necessarily imply malice on the part of the fouling player or an intention to injure an opponent.

Copyright © 2013 by the National Football League. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

2013 Rules Changes

Rules-Section-Article 5-1-2

Allows tight ends to wear numbers 40 through 49 and H-backs to wear numbers 80 through 89.

3-22-2, 8-1-1

Makes it a fumble when a player loses possession of the ball during an attempt to bring it back to his body.


Adds restrictions to defensive team formations for field goal and try kick attempts.

12-2-5 and 7

Prohibits defensive players on the line of scrimmage from blocking low at the snap during a scrimmage kick. Makes the snapper on a field goal or a try kick a defenseless player.


Makes a “peel back” block below the waist illegal in the tackle box.


Prohibits a runner or tackler from initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet outside the tackle box.


Allows a replay review to correct an officiating error when a coach challenges a play that is automatically reviewed by the Replay Official. Allows the defense to gain possession of the ball after a successful challenge of a pass downfield that is ruled incomplete.

Order of the Rules Rule

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18


Field Ball Definitions Game Timing Players, Substitutes, Equipment, General Rules Free Kicks Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Scrimmage Forward Pass, Backward Pass, Fumble Scrimmage Kick Opportunity to Catch a Kick, Fair Catch Scoring Player Conduct Non-Player Conduct Penalty Enforcement Officials: Jurisdiction and Duties Overtime Procedures Emergencies, Unfair Acts Guidelines for Captains Penalty Summary Table of Foul Codes/Team Abbreviation Codes Official Signals Index 2013 NFL S