NFL Football Penalties

If you’re an American football enthusiast, you might have seen match officials punishing players for certain fouls. The referee usually signals a foul by dropping a yellow flag to the ground to warn players, coaches, and even other referees. Here is an explained list of popular American football fouls.


Offside occurs when a player from the defending team exceeds the line of scrimmage before the start of play. The punishment is retreating five yards.


This foul occurs when an offensive player grabs a defensive player to block him. Alternatively, the foul can be registered when a player from the defense impedes or grabs an offensive player who is not the ball carrier. The punishment is 10 yards to the offense and five yards and a first down if the foul is committed by the defense.


Although American football is a sport of full-contact, players are discouraged from grabbing their opponent’s helmet or facemask. This is a punishment that earns a penalty of 15 yards.

Pass Interference

Players from both the offensive and defensive sides can catch the ball when a forward pass is thrown. But no player should obstruct another player from the ball once it is airborne. This calls for a punishment of 10 yards. However, players can accidentally run into each other and this is known as incidental contact.

False Start

A false start is when a player from the offensive side starts a move before play. This foul applies to offensive players on the line or in the backfield. It is only one offensive player who is parallel to the scrimmage line who is allowed to be in motion. The punishment for a false start is a five yards retreat.

Other fouls in American football include clipping, delay of game, chop block, and encroachment. The punishment varies from one fault to the other.

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