Football Loss Of Down

What is a Loss of Down in Football?

Like any other sport, in football if a player commits a penalty, there is a consequence. Loss of a down is one of the consequences that teams face when committing a penalty during a game. Losing a down is only possible for the team that has the ball, and so faults committed exclusively by the offense can lead to the loss of a down. With that, if the offense is in a second-down situation needing to advance 10 yards and commits a penalty, the play will be restarted and the team will find itself in a third-down situation, still needing to travel the same 10 yards.

As if losing a down was not bad enough, some penalties can lead to a combination of losing a down and losing some yards. When committing one of those penalties, a team that finds itself in a second-down situation needing to advance 5 yards has to restart the play a few yards back and in a third-down situation.

Penalties that Lead to the Loss of a Down

The penalization for faults can vary depending on the various levels and football leagues, and that includes the loss of a down. In the NFL, the penalties that most commonly lead to the loss of a down are intentional grounding and illegal pass, which happens when a pass is made after the ball passes the line of scrimmage. Both of those penalties lead to the loss of a down and the loss of 5 yards. When a team loses a down, the official signals it by putting both hands on the back of his head.

List of Penalties that Lead to the Loss of a Down

There are a wide variety of penalties that can result in a loss of down. These penalties include:


What is an illegal forward pass in football?

An illegal forward pass in football occurs whenever a player throws the ball forwards after crossing over the line of scrimmage or throws a pass from behind the line of scrimmage after having caught a forward pass themselves. While this penalty is most commonly committed by quarterbacks, other players can also be called for throwing an illegal forward pass. Any instance in which a player on offense commits an illegal forward pass results, the offensive team suffers a loss of down and loses five yards.

Does offensive holding result in a loss of down in football?

No, offensive holding does not result in a loss of down in the NFL and NCAA. Offensive holding is the act of an offensive player impeding the progress of a defensive player by grabbing them to gain an advantage. This penalty is most frequently called on offensive linemen. Offensive holding will result in a loss of 10 yards from the previous line of scrimmage and the down will be replayed.