1. Forward passing gains or losses are measured from the scrimmage line to the point where the ball is declared dead or is recovered by opponents in the case of a fumble. Both the length of the pass and the running advance after completion are included in the total gain. All yards gained or lost on a completed pass play are credited to both the passer and receiver.
  2. The passer is charged with all forward passes thrown whether complete or incomplete, except those on which an interference penalty is called. It will also include all passes intercepted. Those passes ruled as intentionally grounded will be recorded under penalties, including the yardage lost.
  3. If the passer has commenced forward throwing motion with the ball moving forward and is contacted with the ball becoming loose, the play will be regarded as an incomplete forward pass unless the Referee rules the play to be a fumble.
  4. The receiver is credited only with the number of passes caught and total yards gained. Where a pass is touched by two receivers, the player making the final catch will be credited.

    EXAMPLE — Team A has ball on 30-yard line. Quarterback passes to A1 on 40-yard line who tips the ball forward to A2 on the 43-yard line. The referee will declare the pass complete on the 43 and A2 shall be credited with the catch.

  5. Loss from a completed forward pass play that did not advance to the line of scrimmage is a yardage charge against both the passer and receiver.
  6. A passer is not a passer until the ball is thrown, so, if the player is caught behind the line of scrimmage it is either a loss by rushing under Section 3 or a Team Loss under Section 5.
  7. There is no pass completed by penalty. A gain through interference on a passing play is a penalty against the defending team. The passer is not charged with a pass attempt nor credited with a completion or the yards gained, nor is the intended receiver credited with a pass caught. The passing team is credited only with a first down gained by penalty. The defending team is charged with a penalty and the distance from the line of scrimmage to the penalty spot is recorded under Yards Lost Penalties.
  8. Great care must be taken to distinguish between forward passes behind the line of scrimmage and lateral passes behind the line of scrimmage. Since there is no distinction under the playing rules other than the eligibility of the receiver, there will be no ruling by the referee unless such pass falls incomplete. If the referee waves it incomplete, it was a forward pass. If the Referee declared it a free ball, it was a lateral.


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Content compiled and entered by Darren Hackwood, Glen Johnson 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 Glen Johnson, Officiating Technical Advisor, @