a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by rule (Rule 4-2-3) or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is incomplete when a player leaves their feet and receives the pass but first lands on or outside a boundary line, unless their progress has been stopped in the field of play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3p).
Approved Ruling 2-4-3 III. Airborne A3 receives a pass at Team A’s 40-yard line. While still airborne, he is contacted by B1 and comes to the ground out of bounds with the ball at Team A’s 37-yard line. RULING: Incomplete pass (Rule 7-3-7a).
Approved Ruling 7-3-7 I. A player touches a legal forward pass (a) while he is contacting a boundary line; (b) while airborne after having leaped from out of bounds. RULING: (a) and (b) The ball is out of bounds, the pass is incomplete, and the down counts. The player loses his eligibility when he goes out of bounds (Rules 2-27-15, 4-2-3a, and 7-3-3).
b. When a legal forward pass is incomplete, the ball belongs to the passing team at the previous spot.
c. When an illegal forward pass is incomplete, the ball belongs to the passing team at the spot of the pass (Exception: If Team B declines the penalty for an illegal pass thrown from the end zone, the ball shall next be put in play at the previous spot.)
Approved Ruling 7-3-7 II. Fourth and nine on Team A’s six-yard line. A1 intentionally grounds a forward pass in his end zone to save loss of yardage. RULING: Team B may accept the penalty for a safety. If they decline the penalty, it is Team B’s ball, first and goal on the six-yard line.
Approved Ruling 7-3-7 III. Third and nine on Team A’s six-yard line. A1 throws a second forward pass from his end zone. B2 intercepts and is downed on Team A’s 20-yard line. RULING: Team B may accept the penalty which results in a safety, or take the result of the play, retaining the ball for a first down on Team A’s 20-yard line.