SECTION 1. Purpose and Philosophy
Instant replay is a process whereby video review is used to confirm,
reverse or let stand
certain on-field decisions (Rule 12-3) made by game
The instant replay process operates under the fundamental assumption
that the ruling on the field is correct.
The replay official may reverse a ruling if and only if the video
evidence convinces him beyond all doubt that the ruling was incorrect.
Without such indisputable video evidence, the replay official must
allow the ruling to stand.
SECTION 2. Eligibility for Instant Replay
may use instant replay, but there is no requirement
to do so.
If instant replay is used, it must be used in full compliance with
SECTION 3. Reviewable Plays
Reviewable plays involving a potential score include:
A potential touchdown or safety.
Safety by penalty for fouls that are not specifically reviewable.)
b. Field goal attempts if and only if the ball is ruled (a) below or above
the crossbar, or (b) inside or outside the uprights when it is lower
than the top of the uprights.
If the ball is higher than the top of the uprights as it crosses the
end line, the play may not be reviewed.
Approved Ruling 12-3-1
First and 10 on the Team A 4-yard line.
A22 fumbles and B45 recovers near Team A's goal line.
Officials award the ball to Team B at the Team A 1-yard line.
Reviewable, regarding where the fumble was recovered in relation to the
Possible touchdown for Team B.
First and 10 at the A-2. Ball carrier A22
fumbles when hit. B45 possesses the loose ball in Team A s end zone,
possibly with his right knee down, but A22 knocks the ball out of B45's
hands and A10 recovers the loose ball in the end zone. Officials rule
Team A recovered for a safety.
Reviewable, regarding whether
B45 was down when he recovered the ball. Possible touchdown for Team B.
First and goal on the B-5. Ball carrier A22 loses possession as he
nears Team B's goal line and the officials signal touchdown. The
ball rolls out of bounds in the end zone.
Reviewable, regarding whether A22 lost possession before the
ball broke the plane of the goal line.
First and 10 on the B-35.
B45 intercepts a forward pass near his one-yard line and continues into
the end zone where he is tackled. Officials rule the momentum exception
to a safety applies and award Team B the ball at its one-yard line.
Potentially the ball in B45's possession had broken the plane of the
goal line when B45's foot came down at the one-yard line.
Reviewable, regarding whether B45 caught the ball before or after it
broke the plane of the goal line.
Fourth and 10 on the B-35. Team A's
field goal attempt is ruled good. The ball goes very close to the
upright and is possibly wide to the left.
Reviewable, regarding whether the ball was between the uprights if it
was below the top of the uprights. Not reviewable if the
ball crossed the plane of the goal posts above the top of the uprights.
Reviewable plays involving passes include:
a. Pass ruled complete, incomplete or intercepted anywhere in the field
of play or an end zone.
b. Forward pass touched by a player or an official.
Forward pass or forward handing when a ball carrier is or has been beyond
the neutral zone.
A forward pass or forward handing after a change of team possession.
e. Pass ruled forward or backward when thrown from behind the neutral zone.
1. If the pass is ruled forward and is incomplete, the play is
reviewable only if there is clear recovery of a loose ball in the
immediate continuing action after the loose ball.
If the replay official does not have indisputable video evidence as to
which team recovers, the ruling of incomplete pass stands.
2. If the replay official reverses an incomplete forward pass ruling and
the ball is recovered, it belongs to the recovering team at the spot of
the recovery and any advance is nullified.
Approved Ruling 12-3-2
Third and five on the Team A 30-yard line. In attempting to catch a low
pass in the middle of the
field, the receiver at the B-45 attempts to get his hands under the
ball and control it. The pass is ruled incomplete.
regarding whether the pass was complete. If the ruling on the field is
reversed, it will be Team A's ball, first and 10 at the B-45.
First and 10 on the Team A 20-yard line. A10 throws a pass toward eligible
A80 near the sideline at the A-35. A80 leaps, completes the catch, and
carries the ball across Team B's goal line. Officials say A80 was
touching the side line as he gained possession and rule the pass
Reviewable, regarding whether A80 was out of bounds when he gained
possession. Note that if the ruling on the field is
reversed, the offense is entitled to the catch but not the advance.
First and 10 on the Team A 20-yard line. A10 scrambles and throws
a pass that is completed for an apparent touchdown. The line judge
flags A10 for being beyond the neutral zone when he throws the pass.
Reviewable, regarding whether the passer was completely beyond the
neutral zone when he released the ball.
Third and 10 at the A-30. A forward pass directed toward A80 is
incomplete, but B45 is flagged for defensive pass interference. The pass
possibly was tipped at the line of scrimmage by B77.
Reviewable, regarding whether B77 touched the pass. Note the possible
cancellation of the foul for defensive pass interference.
Second and 10 at the 50. As B45 dives trying to intercept a forward pass,
his action results in the ball bouncing off his hands and high into the
air. A80 catches the ball and runs for an apparent touchdown. The back
judge rules the pass incomplete.
Reviewable, regarding whether the pass is complete or incomplete. If
the ruling on the field is reversed, the ball is dead where A80 gained
First and 10 on the B-20. Flanker A88 moves from the backfield toward
the line of scrimmage where he is set at the snap, apparently "covering
up" tight end A80. A80 goes downfield and catches a pass.
Fourth and 10 on the Team B 20-yard line. A10 drops
back to pass, is hit and loses possession of the ball. Eligible A22
catches the ball in mid-air at the Team B 25-yard line and runs to the
B-5. The referee rules a forward pass.
Reviewable, regarding whether it is a pass or fumble. If the ruling on
the field is reversed, a fourth-down fumble is created.
First and 10 on the A-20.
Wide receiver A88 catches a pass at the 50 and carries the ball across
Team B's goal line.
Officials flag A88 for illegal touching after he apparently stepped on
the sideline at the A-38 prior to the catch.
It is possible that A88 was blocked out of bounds by his defender.
Reviewable, regarding whether A88 contacted the sideline.
Replay official could reverse the ruling ONLY if the video showed
absolutely that the receiver went out of bounds due to a block by the
Dead Ball and Loose Ball
Reviewable plays involving potential dead balls and loose balls
a. Loose ball by a potential passer ruled a fumble.
b. Loose ball by a passer ruled incomplete forward pass when there is
clear recovery in the immediate continuing action after the loose
1. If the replay official does not have indisputable video evidence as to
which team recovers, the ruling of incomplete pass stands.
2. If the replay official rules fumble, the ball belongs to the recovering
team at the spot of the recovery and any advance is nullified.
Live ball not ruled dead in possession of a ball carrier.
Loose ball ruled dead, or live ball ruled dead in possession of a ball
carrier when the clear recovery of a loose ball occurs in the immediate
1. If the ball is ruled dead and the replay official does not have
indisputable video evidence as to which team recovers, the dead-ball
2. If the replay official rules that the ball was not dead, it belongs to the
recovering team at the spot of the recovery and any advance is nullified.
e. Ball carrier's forward progress with respect to a first down.
f. Catch or recovery of a fumble by a Team A player other than the fumbler
before any change of possession during fourth down or a try.
g. Ball carrier in or out of bounds.
If a ball carrier is ruled out of bounds, the play is not reviewable,
except as in Rules 12-3-1-a and
h. Catch, recovery or touching of a loose ball by a player potentially
touching or having touched a sideline or end line.
i. A loose ball touching on or beyond a sideline, goal line or end line,
touching a pylon, or breaking the plane of a goal line.
Approved Ruling 12-3-3
First and 10 on the Team A 30-yard line. Ball carrier A22's run takes
him very close along the sideline, until he is pushed out of bounds at
Reviewable, regarding A22 possibly stepping on the sideline during his
run before being pushed out.
First and 10 on the A-20. Ball carrier A22 runs to the A-28 and
fumbles. B77 falls on and gains possession of
the ball at the A-30, possibly with his foot touching the sideline.
Officials rule that the ball belongs to Team B.
regarding whether B77 was contacting the sideline when he touched the
ball. Replay official should remember the possibility of a forward
fumble out of bounds.
Fourth and 5 on the A-20.
B45 muffs a punt at the 50.
A80 recovers very close to the sideline at the B-45, and the officials
award the ball to Team A.
It is possible that A80's right foot was touching the sideline as he
made the recovery.
Reviewable, regarding whether A80 was touching the sideline.
Team A's punt apparently hits a sideline at
the Team B 27-yard line. The ball bounces back toward the middle of the
field where B25 picks it up and carries it across Team A's goal line.
The officials rule touchdown.
Reviewable, regarding whether the ball hit the sideline.
A punt hits the ground untouched very close to Team B's goal line and
then bounces to the B-5. There B45 recovers
and returns the ball to the B-38, where he is tackled. Officials give
the ball to Team B at that spot.
Reviewable, regarding whether the ball touched the goal line.
First and 10 on the A-20. Ball carrier A40 runs to the A-25
where he loses the ball. B15 recovers. Officials rule fumble and give
possession to Team B.
Reviewable, regarding whether A40 was down before losing the ball.
First and 10 on the A-20. A22 carries to the A-25 where he loses
possession of the ball, which is quickly recovered by B79. The line
judge rules A22 down.
Reviewable because of the immediate recovery.
First and 10 on the A-20. A22
carries to the Team A 25-yard line, where he loses possession of the
ball, which quickly becomes buried under a pile of players. The head
linesman rules A22 down.
Reviewable because the ball was immediately recovered.
If the replay official cannot determine which player recovered the ball,
the ruling on the field stands.
Second and goal on the B-9. Ball carrier A22 is hit, stumbles forward and
finally goes completely to the ground at the Team B 2-yard line. The
line judge rules him down at the B-5.
Not reviewable. The play does not involve a first down, sideline or
The quarterback drops back to pass.
He has his arm cocked to pass and the ball comes out, hitting the
As the referee is signalling an incomplete pass, B88 recovers the ball
and carries it across Team A's goal line.
The play is reviewable because B88's recovery was in the immediate
continuing action following the ball coming loose.
If the replay official reverses the ruling, Team B's score is
cancelled, and it is Team B's ball at the spot of the recovery.
The quarterback is behind his neutral zone when he throws a flare pass
toward a receiver who is also behind the neutral zone.
The head linesman blows his whistle and signals incomplete forward
(a) The ball bounces out of bounds.
(b) Defender B45 assumes it is a backward pass and recovers the ball,
carrying it for several yards before realising that the play has been
(a) Not reviewable.
(b) Play is reviewable because B45's recovery was in the immediate
continuing action after the pass hit the ground.
If the replay official rules that the pass was backward, Team B will
have the ball at the point of recovery with no advance.
Reviewable plays involving kicks include:
a. Touching of a kick.
Player beyond the neutral zone when kicking the ball.
c. Kicking team player advancing a ball after a potential muffed
kick/fumble by the receiving team.
d. Scrimmage kick crossing the neutral zone.
Approved Ruling 12-3-4
On the opening kickoff at the A-30, Team A tries an onside kick. A80
has his feet at the Team A 39-yard line when he picks
up the ball that is on the ground apparently at the Team A 41-yard
line. Officials rule illegal touching.
Reviewable, regarding whether the ball had gone 10 yards before being
touched by Team A.
On an onside kick attempt at the A-30, the ball is apparently first
touched by A20 at Team A's 36-yard line and then is recovered by A80 at
the A-45. Officials award the ball to Team A at the 45.
Reviewable, regarding possible touching by A20.
On the kickoff to open the second half, the officials rule that B45
touched the ball before it went out of bounds at the A-47 and give Team
B the ball at that spot.
Reviewable, regarding possible touching by B45.
If B45 did not touch the ball, there is a foul by Team A for a free kick
out of bounds.
With five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the kickoff goes
between the legs of receiver B15 and out of bounds at the B-5. Officials
rule the ball touched B15 and wind the clock accordingly. The game clock
runs down to 0:00 during the play.
Reviewable, regarding possible touching by B15. If the ruling on the
field is reversed, there is a Team A foul for a free kick out of bounds
and the game clock should be re-set to 0:05.
A80 voluntarily touches a sideline while running downfield to cover
a punt, then downs the ball at the B-37. Officials rule a foul by A80
for illegally returning inbounds. It is possible that A34 touched the
ball at the B-40 before it was downed by A80.
Reviewable for possible touching by A34. Not reviewable for A80 going
out of bounds.
Team A's punt goes out of bounds untouched at the B-9. The officials
mark the ball at the B-7.
Not reviewable. The play did not involve the
ball hitting a sideline or the kick being touched.
Situations that may be addressed by the replay official:
The number of players on the field for either team during a live ball.
b. Clock adjustment and status when a ruling is reviewed.
Clock adjustment at the end of any quarter.
If at the end of any quarter the game clock expires, either during a
down in which it should be stopped by rule when the ball becomes dead
or following the down upon a request for an available team timeout,
the replay official may restore time only under these conditions:
1. The replay official has indisputable video evidence that time should
have remained on the game clock when the ball became dead or when the
team timeout was granted;
2. In the second and fourth quarters only,
the team in possession when the ball became dead would next put the ball
in play from scrimmage (not the try);
3. In the fourth quarter only, either the score is tied or the team that
will next snap the ball is behind by eight points or fewer; and
4. The replay official's video evidence includes the timeout signal by an
official in the case where the game clock should have stopped for a
requested team timeout.
Correcting the number of a down.
1. This includes the result of a penalty enforcement that includes an
automatic first down or loss of down.
2. The correction may be made at any time within that series of
downs or before the ball is legally put in play after that series.
e. Any person who is not a player interfering with live-ball action occurring
in the field of play (Rule 9-2-3).
Approved Ruling 12-3-5
First and 10 on the A-20. A low pass that A80 apparently catches on his
knees at the Team A 35-yard line is ruled complete. The game clock
shows 10:00 remaining. After setting the chains and re-starting the game
clock, the replay official stops the game to review the play with 9:40
on the clock.
Reviewable, regarding whether the pass was complete or incomplete. If
the ruling on the field is reversed, the game clock will be adjusted to
10:00 and started on the snap.
Second and 15 at the A-20.
The quarterback runs to the A-26 before throwing a forward pass that
In enforcing the penalty the referee announces that second down will be
The replay official should correct the number of the down on the
Limitations on Reviewable Plays
No other plays or officiating decisions are reviewable.
However, the replay official may correct egregious errors, including
those involving the game clock, whether or not a play is reviewable.
This excludes fouls that are not specifically reviewable (Reviewable
fouls: Rules 12-3-2-c, 12-3-2-d,
12-3-4-b and 12-3-5-a).
Approved Ruling 12-3-6
On a kickoff to start the game, A12 attempts an onside kick.
The ball possibly hits the ground as soon as it leaves the tee and
bounds high in the air to the Team A 43-yard line, where B25 signals
for a fair catch. A20 contacts B25 before the ball arrives and A30
recovers it. Officials rule kick-catch interference.
On an onside kick attempt, the untouched ball goes out of bounds
apparently at the Team A 39-yard line. The officials mark the
ball at the Team A 41-yard line and give possession to Team B at that
Team A kicks off and the ball apparently goes out of bounds at the Team
B 1-yard line. Officials rule touchback.
Not reviewable. However, the play would be reviewable regarding whether
the ball possibly hit the pylon, and if it did, the ruling from the
replay official would be a touchback.
First and 10 on the A-20. A22 carries to the A-25 and fumbles. A80 and
B45 both dive for the ball and possibly recover it simultaneously in
the middle of the field. Officials gave the ball to Team B.
First and 10 on the Team B 20-yard line. A22 catches a
screen pass and runs for an apparent touchdown. A70 possibly was down
field at the B-15 prior to the pass was thrown.
First and 10 on the A-20. A10 is under pressure and throws a pass
that lands incomplete behind the line of scrimmage. The referee flags
A10 for intentional grounding. It is possible that eligible A22 was
within two yards of the ball when it hit the ground.
Fourth and 7 on the A-23. A80 voluntarily touches a
sideline while running downfield to cover a punt. B45 muffs the punt,
and A80 recovers at the B-30 yard line.
During a punt, A80 contacts receiver B45 before B45 touches the ball.
The ball bounces off B45 and rolls to the Team B 35-yard line, where
A88 recovers. Team A is awarded possession.
During Team A's punt, B45 clearly signals for a fair catch. The ball
hits the ground and bounces to B45, who returns it for an apparent
The officials on the field do not declare the ball dead when B45
However, the replay official may correct an egregious error.
Team A's punt bounces untouched into Team B's end zone for a touchback
when the game clock reads 7:35 in the first quarter. Team B will have the
ball at its 20-yard line. After the ball is dead, the officials on the
field do not notice that the game clock continues to run. When the
referee declares the ball ready for play, the game clock reads 6:22.
Although there is no play to review, the replay official may interrupt
the game before the ball is snapped and correct the clock error. He
instructs the referee to announce that the game clock should be set
SECTION 4. Instant Replay Personnel, Equipment and
Instant replay personnel shall consist of the number of persons needed
to operate the replay equipment within the necessary time constraints.
There shall be a minimum of three persons to ensure that all plays are
reviewed in an efficient and a timely manner.
Such persons are normally referred to as replay official, communicator
Additional personnel may be used as needed.
The type of equipment used to carry out necessary instant replay duties
shall be determined by
the competition authority
using instant replay.
a. All equipment used in reviewing a play during the replay process and
the personnel using that equipment shall be located in a separate,
secure location in the press box.
This room shall not be available or accessible to any person not directly
involved in instant replay.
b. Additional telephonic equipment needed to allow instant replay personnel
to communicate with the game referee when a game has been stopped for a
play review shall be located on a sideline near the field of play and
preferably outside a team area.
Such equipment shall provide the game referee and the replay official
a secure and private means of communication.
SECTION 5. Initiating the Replay Process
There are two methods to stop a game to review a ruling on the
a. The replay official and his crew shall review every play of a game.
He may stop a game at any time before the ball is next legally put in
whenever he believes that:
1. There is reasonable evidence to believe an error was made in the initial
2. The play is reviewable.
3. The outcome of a review would have a direct, competitive impact on
b. The head coach of either team may request that the game be stopped and
a play be reviewed by challenging the on-field ruling.
1. A head coach initiates this challenge by taking a team timeout before
the ball is next legally put in play (Exception: Rule 12-3-5-c)
and informing the referee that he is challenging the ruling of the
If a head coach's challenge is successful, he retains the challenge,
which he may use only once more during the game.
Thus, a coach may have a total of two challenges if and only if his
initial challenge is successful.
2. After a review has been completed, if the on-field ruling is reversed,
that team's timeout will not be charged.
3. After a review has been completed, and the on-field ruling is not
reversed, the charged team timeout counts as one of the three permitted
that team for that half or the one permitted in that extra period.
4. A head coach may not challenge a ruling in which the game was stopped
and a decision has already been made by the replay official.
5. If a head coach requests a team timeout to challenge an on-field ruling
and the play being challenged is not reviewable, the timeout shall
count as one of the three permitted his team during that half of the
game or the one permitted in that extra period.
6. A head coach may not challenge an on-field ruling if all the team's
timeouts have been used for that half or in that extra period.
Approved Ruling 12-5-1
Trailing 28-0 midway through the fourth quarter, Team A has third and
10 at its 20-yard line.
Ball carrier A22 is downed, with his knee touching the Team A 29-yard
Officials spot the ball at the Team A 29-yard line, although A22 had
possibly extended the ball to the Team A 31-yard line when his knee hit
In principle, this is a reviewable play, regarding a possible first
However, given the score and the time, this play would not be reviewed
due to the lack of a direct competitive impact on the game.
If the head coach challenges the ruling, the challenge is honored because
the rules allow for the play to be reviewed.
A head coach has not yet used his challenge when he decides to challenge
a play that is reviewable. The challenge is successful, with the ruling
on the field being reversed by the replay official.
The team is not charged with a timeout. The head coach may challenge
one more reviewable play during the game.
When to Stop a Game
a. A game may be stopped, either by the replay official or by a head coach's
challenge at any time before the ball is next legally put in play
b. No game official may request that a game be stopped for a play to be
SECTION 6. Reviewing an On-field Ruling
a. When a game is to be stopped either by the replay official or by a head
coach's challenge, the designated officials on the field will be notified
by a buzzer system or other appropriate means.
b. If the review is initiated by the replay official, the referee shall
"The ruling on the previous play is ... (brief description of ruling).
The play is under further review."
If the game has been stopped due to a head coach's challenge, the referee
"The (name of
head coach has challenged the ruling of (state the ruling).
The play is under further review."
c. All reviews shall be based upon video evidence provided by and coming
directly from the televised production of the game or from other video
means available to the replay official.
d. After the referee has conferred with the replay official and the
review process has been completed, he shall make one of the following
1. If the video evidence confirms the on-field ruling:
"After further review, the ruling on the field is confirmed."
2. If there is no indisputable (conclusive) evidence to reverse the onfield
"After further review, the ruling on the field stands."
3. If the on-field ruling is reversed (Rule 12-7):
"After further review, the ruling is [followed by a brief description
of the video evidence].
Therefore, [followed by a brief description of the impact of the ruling]."
e. If a ruling is reversed, the replay official shall supply the referee
with all pertinent data as needed (next down, distance, yard line,
position of the ball, clock status/adjustment) in order to resume play
under the correct game conditions.
a. There is no restriction on the number of times the replay official may
stop a game for reviews.
b. The replay official is under no time limit for a review.
SECTION 7. Reversing an On-Field Ruling
Criterion for Reversal
To reverse an on-field ruling, the replay official must be
convinced beyond all doubt by indisputable video evidence through one
or more video replays provided to the monitor.
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Editor: Jim Briggs, BAFA/BAFRA Rules Committee