Illegal Use of Hands Question . . .

Q.  Offensive team completes an 8 yard pass and defense is cited for “Illegal Use of Hands” on the play.  Is the receiver credited for an 8 yard reception and then the penalty assessed at the end of the play?  Does the down remain the same?  What happens on touchdowns?

A.  “Illegal Use of Hands” is treated exactly the same way “Defensive Holding” would be treated.  It is a five yard penalty and an automatic first down.  In the scenario described above, the offensive coach would have to choose whether or not he wanted to accept the five yard penalty or keep the play – it is an “either/or” decision.

Let’s say this 8 yard completion happened on first and 10.  The offensive coach could have a first down by choosing to accept the penalty, or he could decline the penalty and take the 8 yard completion instead, now facing 2nd and 2.  You don’t get both the yardage and the penalty.

If the 8 yard completion was a touchdown, then the penalty is automatically declined and that’s the end of it.  It is not marked off on the PAT or the following kickoff.


Q – What if the “Illegal Use of Hands” penalty is committed by the offensive team on that play?

A – “Illegal Use of Hands” penalties on an offensive player are treated exactly like a holding penalty – ten yards from the original line of scrimmage and repeat the down.  So, in that scenario, the 8 yard completion would be wiped out and the penalty would be assessed from the original line of scrimmage.  Again, had this happened on a 1st and 10 play, it would now be 1st and 20 after the mark-off of the ten-yard penalty.

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