The ball is dead when:

  • An official blows the whistle
  • An official has signalled a score
  • It goes Out of Bounds
  • A forward pass is declared incomplete
  • A forward pass hits an official
  • A kicked ball strikes the opponent's goal post assembly in flight, without first touching the ground, a player or an official
  • 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)
  • 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
  • A ball carrier is tackled and driven back towards the ball carrier's own Dead Ball 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
  • 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
  • The quarterback, in possession of the ball, intentionally kneels on the ground during the last three minutes of a half
  • The quarterback or punter or kicker, in possession of the ball, gives them self up by sliding in any manner or diving, the ball shall be declared dead at the point it was held when another part of the quarterback's body, other than feet or hands, touch the ground
  • The quarterback or punter or kicker fakes a slide. The ball is dead at the point it was held when the fake slide originated
  • A player, having possession of the ball in their own Goal Area, intentionally kneels on or goes to the ground
  • The 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.
  • The ball carrier's helmet comes off.


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Publication Credits

Content compiled and written by Jeff Harbin 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 Darren Hackwood, Associate Vice-President of Officiating at Any inquiries regarding CFL Statistical Scoring Rules may be directed to Jeff Krever, Head, CFL Player and Game Statistics at