a. A pass is forward if the ball first strikes the ground, a player, an official or anything else beyond the spot where the ball is released. All other passes are backward passes. When in question a pass thrown in or behind the neutral zone is forward rather than a backward pass. (Exception: Games using Instant Replay)
b. When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of the passer’s hand with the ball firmly in their control starts the forward pass unless the player clearly starts to bring the ball back with firm control to the passer’s body. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player.
Approved Ruling 2-19-2 I. A1 intends to throw a forward pass, but B1 bats the ball from his hand before A1’s hand starts forward. RULING: Fumble (Rule 2-11-1).
c. When in question, the ball is passed and not fumbled during an attempted forward pass. (Exception: Games using Instant Replay)
d. A snap becomes a backward pass when the snapper releases the ball, other than via a hand-to-hand exchange.
Approved Ruling 2-23-1 I. Fourth and goal on Team B’s five-yard line. A55’s legal snap is muffed by A12 and (a) any player of Team A recovers and advances the ball into the end zone, or (b) a player of Team B recovers and advances the ball. RULING: The snap is a backward pass and may be advanced by any player. (a) Touchdown. Since this is a backward pass and not a fumble there is no restriction on a Team A player recovering and advancing the ball. (b) Ball continues in play.