A receiver catches a forward pass, lands deliberately just on one foot and then throws the football forward with so-called "throwing motion".

According to the rules:

A Pass is the movement of the ball caused by the runner who throws, shoves (shovel pass), or pushes (push pass) the ball.

And then:

The Runner is the offensive player who is in possession of a live ball (3-2-1), i.e., holding the ball or carrying it in any direction.

So it is required for a receiver to place the both feet inbounds to maintain possession, and it is also required to maintain possession to perform a forward pass. But since the receiver doesn't have possession (just one foot inbounds), it is not a forward pass and rather deflection.

So would it be an illegal forward pass?

  • 2
    you realize that this must be attempted with people attempting to tackle you, right? It might be legal, but it would be a massively low percentage play and one that is rather ripe for injury (a relatively weak receive is on one leg (after coming to some kind of stop from a full sprint), trying to throw a pass with a corner (or more probably an LB) bearing down on him. Someone is going to break something.
    – wax eagle
    Feb 19, 2013 at 16:25
  • yes, it's just a theoretical question. btw i saw a play with a guy doing something similar (i mean "passing" forward) while flying even without one leg inbounds. but that was a deflection and college football, not nfl.
    – fderty3
    Feb 20, 2013 at 9:29

2 Answers 2


A receiver can not be deemed to have caught the ball until they have both feet (or one knee) on the ground: "A catch is made when a player inbounds secures possession of a pass". So, by definition, the situation described in your first sentence can never occur.

What you describe is the same as a receiver batting the ball forward. The closest thing to your described situation is covered in the NFL 2012 Casebook:


First-and-10 on A25. A1 passes forward to A2 who, at the A30, bats the ball forward to tackle A6 who was legally downfield. A6 catches the ball and runs for a touchdown.

Ruling: Touchdown Team A. Kickoff A35. Legal play

  • yes, by "catch" i meant just the grip suitable for intentional and accurate throwing forward. ok, thanks for the clarification.
    – fderty3
    Feb 20, 2013 at 9:34

There is no way to legally throw a second forward pass, however, you can throw lateral, then throw a forward pass. Throwing a second forward pass would result penalization.

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