A legal forward pass is thrown by any Team A player from a point behind the scrimmage line, towards the opponent's Dead Line, to any eligible receiver or receivers. The ball shall not touch the ground, any part of the goal post assembly, an official or any other object. The ball is considered to be in the possession of Team A until the pass is ruled completed or incomplete. The passing motion begins when the passer's hand, with the ball in possession, begins moving forward.
A screen pass is a forward pass thrown to a receiver at a point behind the line of scrimmage. Should the ball be touched by an eligible receiver in the offensive backfield then proceed across the line of scrimmage, it shall continue to be considered a screen pass. Unless otherwise stated, rules governing forward passes shall apply to screen passes.
Only one forward pass shall be thrown on any down. If a second pass is thrown:
A pass may be thrown by any Team A player who was behind the scrimmage line when passing the ball. The passer needs at least one foot on or behind the line of scrimmage when the ball is released to be considered behind the line of scrimmage. The passer need not be the first player to receive the ball from the centre.
If the pass is thrown from a point across the line of scrimmage:
The following players are eligible receivers:
Eligible receivers will wear numbers from 0-49 and 70-99.
Ineligible receivers will wear numbers from 50-69.
provided that prior to the game, Team A declared to the Referee a list of eligibly numbered players who may be so deployed and such eligibly numbered players shall not be eligible as pass receivers, regardless of the position occupied on that play.
At any time during the game, an eligibly numbered player may be added to the list by entering the field of play and reporting to the Referee.
If an eligibly numbered player who is not on the list participates at an ineligible receiver position (within one yard of the line of scrimmage tackle to tackle), his team will be warned once and his number will be added to the list. If this occurs a second time, a Procedure penalty shall be called.
A maximum of 2 players wearing an ineligible number (50 — 69) will be allowed to line up in an eligible position as an end or in the backfield after reporting to the Referee prior to a scrimmage play. The Referee will inform the opposing team and all officials of the player number and position he will be playing.
When an ineligible receiver is the first player of Team A to catch or deliberately touch the ball:
A pass is completed under the following conditions:
A forward pass shall be declared incomplete and the ball next put in play at the point of last scrimmage with downs continuing:
If a Team A passer deliberately, and in the official's opinion for the purpose of avoiding loss of yardage, throws the ball behind the line of scrimmage to the ground or Out of Bounds or to an area in which there is not an eligible Team A receiver, the team shall be penalized.
PENALTY: LD at point from which pass was thrown. If the pass was thrown from the Goal Area, a safety touch score shall be awarded to Team B, subject to the right of Team B to decline the score and accept the play as it terminated.
NOTE: Team A shall not be penalized if the passer throws the ball across the line of scrimmage to an open area or Out of Bounds.
Prior to a forward pass being thrown behind the line of scrimmage, a Team A player may carry out an otherwise legal block on a Team B player at any point on the field, effective the instant the ball is snapped.
Prior to a pass being thrown incidental contact by both Team A and Team B players may occur anywhere on the field; this includes hand-fighting. Such contact is not a foul unless it materially affects the opponent creating a distinct advantage.
Prior to a pass being thrown across the line of scrimmage, it is illegal for a Team A player to initiate a block with a Team B player more than 1 yard across the line of scrimmage before the pass is deemed complete or incomplete.
Prior to a forward pass being thrown, a Team B player may:
Prior to a forward pass being thrown, a Team B player may not:
Illegal Contact on a Receiver does not apply if at any time after the snap a player other than the Designated Quarterback has possession of the ball or if the Designated Quarterback loses possession. In addition, the Illegal Contact restrictions do not apply when Team A kicks the ball across the line of scrimmage or lines up in a kicking formation.
If Team B Commits the Pass Interference Foul:
After a forward pass has been completed across the line of scrimmage, a Team A player may block an opponent anywhere within bounds, provided that the contact is made only above the waist of the opponent.
When a forward pass has been intercepted, any player of Team B may interfere anywhere, within the bounds, provided that contact is made only above the waist of the opponent.
If Team B intercepts and then fumbles while attempting to run the ball out of the Goal Area, the ball may be legally recovered by Team A.
When the ball is dead in the Goal Area without score, Team B shall scrimmage at its 30-yard line, first down.
If Team B, while in possession in its Goal Area following an interception in goal, commits any infraction in the Goal Area or in the Field of Play, the penalty shall be applied from the 25-yard line, or option.
If Team B intercepts a pass in its Goal Area and the play is ruled dead in B’s Goal Area and Team A is called for Rough Play or Unnecessary Roughness in the Field of Play or in the Goal Area, the penalty shall be applied from Team B’s 30-yard line.
NOTE: If a Team B player intercepts a pass in the Field of Play while moving toward the Team B Goal Line and momentum carries that player into the Goal Area, the play shall be ruled as an interception in goal.
NOTE: The only score that can result from a Team B interception in its Goal Area, while the ball remains in the Goal Area, is a touchdown by Team A following recovery of a Team B fumble.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Any inquiries regarding CFL Statistical Scoring Rules may be directed to Jeff Krever, Head, CFL Player and Game Statistics at email@example.com.