The ball is dead:

  • Whenever a field official blows the whistle
  • When an official has signalled a score
  • When the ball goes Out of Bounds
  • When a forward pass is declared incomplete
  • When a kicked ball strikes the opponent's goal post assembly in flight, without first touching the ground, a player or an official
  • When the ball carrier is tackled and the forward progress has been halted (tackling is defined as the act of grasping or encircling a ball carrier with hands and arms)
  • When the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage is firmly in the grasp and control of a tackler to the extent that the ball cannot be thrown
  • When a ball carrier is tackled and driven back towards the ball carrier's own Goal Line, an official must assume that an attempt was being made to advance the ball and that only the actual contact with an opponent prevented such advance. Therefore, the most forward point of advance shall be considered the point where the ball became dead
  • When the ball carrier is contacted by an opponent and loses balance so that a portion of the body, other than hands or feet touches the ground, the ball shall be dead at the point where it was held when touching the ground, or the point where the ball was held when contacted, whichever is the furthest point of advance
  • When the quarterback, in possession of the ball, intentionally kneels on the ground during the last three minutes of a half
  • When the quarterback, in possession of the ball, dives in a feet first sliding motion, the ball shall be declared dead at the point it was held when another part of the quarterback's body, other than hands or feet, touch the ground
  • When a player, having possession of the ball in own Goal Area, intentionally kneels on the ground
  • When a ball carrier is on the ground and, in the judgment of the official, is not attempting to advance the ball, the official shall immediately declare the ball dead.


  • A ball lying on the ground and not in possession of a player is not dead.
  • A ball striking an official is not dead except on a forward pass.


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Content compiled and entered by Darren Hackwood and Andre Proulx

The CFL Official Rule Book is published annually by the Canadian Football League. Any inquiries regarding the CFL Official Playing Rules may be directed to George Black Senior Advisor, Football Operations @