2017 official playing rules of the national football league

furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the ... is placed down by an official at the spot where the ball will next be put in play, or when the Referee signals for the 25-second. Play Clock to start. ARTICLE 3.
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Roger Goodell, Commissioner


“2017 NFL Rulebook”

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2017 Rules Changes

Rules-Section-Article 4-7-1, 2, and 4

Makes all actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.


Spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick remains at the 25-yard line (for one year only).


Prohibits crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.


Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.


Prohibits a player who is off the line of scrimmage from running and jumping over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a FG or PAT attempt.


Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.


Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.


Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.


Reduces the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes.

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 2017 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 inter-conference 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. 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 © 2017 by the National Football League. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.


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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 and Instant Replay Overtime Procedures Emergencies, Unfair Acts Guidelines for Captains

1 3 4 12 18 25 27 31 38 42 44 48 57 59 65 67 69 71

Penalty Summary Official Signals Table of Foul Codes/Team Abbreviation Codes Index

72 75 81 82




ARTICLE 1. PLAYING LINES. The game shall be played upon a rectangular field, 360 feet in length and 160 feet in width. The lines at each en