HomeMore Sports


American Football101ArticlesBowl GamesCoachingCollege FootballDefensive AlignmentsDrillsEquipmentFlag FootballHistoryHow ToKick TypesLeaguesLingoNFL FootballNFL TeamsOffensive FormationsOfficialsPass TypesPenaltiesCFL Football Penalties ReferenceCFL Football Penalties Reference By CategoryCollege Football Penalties ReferenceCollege Football Penalties Reference By CategoryFootball 10 Yard Penalties ListFootball 15 Yard Penalties ListFootball 5 Yard Penalties ListFootball Assisting The Runner PenaltyFootball Blocking a Kicking Team Player Out of Bounds PenaltyFootball Chop BlockFootball Clipping PenaltyFootball Defenseless Player PenaltyFootball Defensive Delay Of Game PenaltyFootball Defensive Holding PenaltyFootball Defensive Offside PenaltyFootball Defensive Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Delay Of Game PenaltyFootball Delay Of Kickoff PenaltyFootball Disconcerting Acts or Signals PenaltyFootball Disqualification PenaltyFootball Double Foul PenaltyFootball Encroachment PenaltyFootball Equipment Violation PenaltyFootball Excess Timeouts PenaltyFootball Excessive Celebration PenaltyFootball Facemask PenaltyFootball Fair Catch Interference PenaltyFootball False Start PenaltyFootball Forcibly Contacting a Player Out of Bounds PenaltyFootball Foul TypesFootball Goaltending PenaltyFootball Horse Collar PenaltyFootball Illegal Bat PenaltyFootball Illegal Blindside Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Block Above The Waist PenaltyFootball Illegal Block After Fair Catch Signal PenaltyFootball Illegal Block Below the Waist PenaltyFootball Illegal Block In The Back PenaltyFootball Illegal Contact PenaltyFootball Illegal Crackback PenaltyFootball Illegal Cut Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Double Team Block PenaltyFootball Illegal Formation PenaltyFootball Illegal Forward Handoff PenaltyFootball Illegal Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Illegal Kick Kicking Loose Ball PenaltyFootball Illegal Motion PenaltyFootball Illegal Peel Back PenaltyFootball Illegal Shift PenaltyFootball Illegal Snap PenaltyFootball Illegal Substitution PenaltyFootball Illegal Touching of a Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Illegal Touching of a Kick PenaltyFootball Illegal Use Of Hands PenaltyFootball Illegal Wedge PenaltyFootball Incomplete Forward Pass PenaltyFootball Ineligible Downfield Kick PenaltyFootball Ineligible Downfield Pass PenaltyFootball Ineligible Receiver Downfield PenaltyFootball Intentional Grounding PenaltyFootball Invalid Fair Catch Signal PenaltyFootball Kick Catch Interference PenaltyFootball Kickoff Out Of Bounds PenaltyFootball Leaping PenaltyFootball Leg Whip PenaltyFootball Leverage PenaltyFootball Low Block PenaltyFootball Neutral Zone Infraction PenaltyFootball Offensive Holding PenaltyFootball Offensive Offside PenaltyFootball Offensive Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Offside On Free Kick PenaltyFootball Offside PenaltyFootball Palpably Unfair Act PenaltyFootball Pass Interference PenaltyFootball Penalties ListFootball Personal Foul PenaltyFootball Player Out Of Bounds On Kick PenaltyFootball Removal of the Helmet PenaltyFootball Roughing The Holder PenaltyFootball Roughing The Kicker PenaltyFootball Roughing The Passer PenaltyFootball Running Into The Kicker PenaltyFootball Sideline Infraction PenaltyFootball Striking, Kicking, or Kneeing an Opponent PenaltyFootball Taunting PenaltyFootball Too Many Men On Field PenaltyFootball Tripping PenaltyFootball Unnecessary Physical Contact With Game Official PenaltyFootball Unnecessary Roughness PenaltyFootball Unsportsmanlike Conduct PenaltyFootball Use Of Helmet PenaltyHigh School Football Penalties ReferenceHigh School Football Penalties Reference By CategoryNFL Football Penalties By CategoryNFL Football Penalties ReferencePlayersPlaysPositionsQuestionsRulesScrimmage DownsSkillsStatisticsStrategyTeam StaffThe FieldTrophies
  1. Home
  2. American Football
  3. Football Ineligible Downfield Pass Penalty

Football Ineligible Downfield Pass Penalty

Football Ineligible Downfield Pass Penalty

A penalty for an ineligible downfield pass happens when an ineligible receiver is too far down the field before the ball is thrown past the line of scrimmage. Typically, an ineligible receiver is an offensive lineman. In the rulebook (for the NCAA and the NFL), ineligible receivers are not allowed to be more than one yard across the line of scrimmage, but officials tend to be lenient with this rule and at times allow ineligible receivers to be three to five yards past the line of scrimmage. This penalty is similar to holding, as it happens on a decent amount of plays, but is only called when it clearly impacts the play. The penalty in both college and the NFL is five yards.


An ineligible downfield pass penalty is when ineligible receivers on the offense are too far down the field before the pass is thrown and before the pass is caught.

The ineligible players tend to be offensive linemen. When ineligible receivers are further than one yard past the line of scrimmage before their quarterback has thrown the ball, this penalty is called. It is a five yard penalty before the next play.

This penalty is only called on the offense and it only called on passing plays. On rushing plays, offensive lineman can be wherever they want on the field (after the snap) to block. On passing plays, they must not go further than one yard past the line of scrimmage because of this rule.


The result of an ineligible downfield pass penalty in football is 5 yards. The offense will start its next play 5 yards back from where they started the previous play.

Ineligible Downfield Pass5 Yards5 Yards5 Yards5 Yards5 Yards

Penalty Signal

Football Penalty Signal Ineligible Receiver

When a referee calls the penalty of ineligible downfield pass, they will tap the cop of their head with their right hand and tell which player the penalty was on. They will then announce the upcoming down and yardage to go for the offensive team.


  • On 2nd and 7, an ineligible downfield pass penalty is called. This results in the offense starting its next play at 3rd and 12 (regardless of what happened on the play before, when the penalty was called).
  • An offensive lineman is five yards past the line of scrimmage blocking a defensive player while the quarterback is still holding the football.
  • A tight end who is in the game to block, and is reported as ineligible prior to the play, is three yards past the line of scrimmage when the ball is thrown by the quarterback for 45 yards down the field.
  • An offensive lineman is four yards past the line of scrimmage when a wide receiver catches the ball directly behind them.