If a runner gets forward progress out of their end zone but gets pushed back into their end zone and tackled, is he awarded with forward progress or is it a safety?

Example: Team A is on their own 2 yard line and the runner makes it to the 4 yard line before getting pushed back into their end zone. That runner did not try to re-establish the run and was tackled in their end zone. Is that a safety?

  • As far as my understanding, if he was pushed back into the end zone by the defender, they'd give him forward progress, let me see if I can find the rule to back up my statement.
    – New-To-IT
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


NFL Rulebook, Rule 7, Section 2: Dead Ball covers this. There is no specific rule regarding safeties, because there's no need for one: forward progress applies.

Section 2 Dead Ball

Article 1: Dead Ball Declared. An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (...)

(b) when a runner is held or otherwise restrained so that his forward progress ends

The Safety rule is actually pretty specific anyway: it must be carried behind the goalline by an impetus by a team, meaning, an intentional act (not being driven backwards). Rule 11, Section 5:



It is a Safety:

if the offense commits a foul in its own end zone or; when an impetus by a team sends the ball behind its own goal line, and the ball is dead in the end zone in its possession or the ball is out of bounds behind the goal line.

So no, that would not be a safety, if in the view of the officials the runner's forward progress ended in the field of play beyond his goal line. Of course, if the officials believed that he intentionally backed up to try and gain further yardage, they could rule it a safety; forward progress is a judgement call on the part of the official (though usually a clear one).

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