Why is it that a false start by the offense stops play but neutral zone infraction by defense does not?

I understand why holding penalties don't stop play because the play is ongoing and they don't want players to get injured, but with a neutral zone infraction the play is at the same step as a false start.

1 Answer 1


The difference is when the penalty occurs.

A false start by the offense, or certain penalties by the defense (illegally forcing an offensive player to move) are dead-ball fouls. They occur prior to the snap of the ball. As there is no play, the penalty must be enforced prior to the snap.

A defensive player offside is not a penalty until the ball is actually snapped and the play begins. A defensive player could return to a legal position prior to the snap. This is not a dead-ball foul, so the play continues.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.