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This question came up among my friends while we were watching the Packers triumph over the Giants this evening:

Suppose a receiver is catching a pass along the sideline. He's got one foot in-bounds, but is falling out-of-bounds. A teammate also happens to be there; the teammate is out-of-bounds, but pushes the receiver to keep him from falling out-of-bounds, and the receiver gets his second foot down in-bounds.

Could this be considered an in-bounds reception? Could the receiver then start running? Is there anything in the rules that prevents an out-of-bounds player from supporting a teammate to stay in-bounds?

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Under Rule 12 "Player Conduct" in the 2016 NFL rulebook, Section 1, Article 4 includes the prohibition that

[n]o offensive player may:

...

d. push or throw his body against a teammate to aid him in an attempt to obstruct an opponent or to recover a loose ball

Under Rule 3 "Definitions" of the same rulebook, Section 2, Article 4 defines a loose ball as

... a live ball that is not in player possession, i.e., any ball that has been kicked, passed, or fumbled.

The foul is illegal use of hands, arms, or body by the offense, and the penalty is a loss of ten (10) yards.

Part 'a' of the same article in Rule 12 prohibits pulling the runner at all, the foul being assisting the runner with identical penalty, and would disallow that act in order to achieve a similar result.

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