Football Offensive Pass Interference Penalty

Football Offensive Pass Interference Penalty

Offensive pass interference occurs when a receiving player makes contact with a defender, not allowing them to fairly defend the incoming pass. This action gives the receiver an advantage over the defender because the ball is easier to catch when the defender is off balance. Illegal pick plays also fall under the penalty of offensive pass interference. Offensive pass interference will cost your team a total of 10 yards.


Pass interference is called when an action from a player on either team more than one yard down the field affects another player's opportunity to make a play on the football. When dealing with offensive pass interference, the receiver must engage with the defender in order to gain an advantage.

This penalty will not be called when both the receiver and defender are both engaging with each other. This is because one player does not have a clear advantage to catch the ball. This sequence is often labeled as hand fighting. If there is any doubt that there is an offensive pass interference penalty, it will normally not be called.

Another form of offensive pass interference is the illegal pick play. This is defined as when an offensive player either runs into or blocks a defender from chasing another offensive player. This results in an offensive player to become open, a clear advantage that signals a penalty should be called.

Offensive pass interference is called much less often than defensive pass interference. This is due to officials sometimes classifying mutual engagement as a defensive penalty. Typically, offensive pass interference is called the most in playoff games, where the correct call is very important.


Offensive pass interference results in a 10 yard penalty. The yardage will be enforced from where the ball was before the penalty was called, and the down will be replayed. The defense can choose to decline this penalty, usually when the play that the penalty occurred on resulted in an advantage for the defense. Common advantages include an interception or fumble recovery by the defense.

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Penalty Signal

football Penalty Signal

The signal for offensive pass interference is achieved by the referee by extending both arms out in front, with their hands facing upwards. This is the same signal for defensive pass interference. In order to tell the difference between offensive and defensive pass interference, the referee will also signal one arm to the side of the field where the offending team is standing.


  • Grabbing the arm of the defender so that they cannot attempt to catch the football.
  • Creating contact with the defender by pushing or extending the arm into their body, forcing separation.
  • Hooking the opponent with the intent to not let them catch the ball.

Similar Penalties To Offensive Pass Interference