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Does the ball have to cross the goal line to score a touchdown when a player steps inside the endzone?

I've seen some touchdowns where the player stepped in the end zone but it looked like the ball may have passed out of bounds before it crossed the goal line. I'm not questioning a particular call, I'm trying to understand the rule.

Imagine if a player stepped into the end zone, but the ball stayed in one of his arms that was still over the playing field and never crossed the goal line before he went down or went out of bounds. Would that be a touchdown?

14 Answers

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  • Adam C
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The official rule of a Touchdown is defined in the NFL rulebook.

    Touchdown: When the ball, in legal in bounds possesion of a player, crosses the plane of the end zone, provided it is not a touchback.

    The ball always must be in a player's in bounds possession and cross the goal line for a Touchdown to be ruled. The ball must cross the goal line regardless of the player's position.

    Furthermore, the ball can never be "out of bounds" unless it physically touches the ground itself. In ALL other cases, a part of the player's body must touch out of bounds, regardless of where the ball is. If a player's body crosses the End Zone in bounds, and the ball crosses the End Zone as well, while the ball might be out of the playing field, it's still a touch down because the ball did cross the imaginary line of the EZ.

    In the first scenario your described, the play would still be a touchdown because the player was in bounds when the ball crossed the goal line.

    The the second scenario, the play should not be ruled a Touchdown because the ball never crosses the plane. I've seen this rule enforced once, where a tightend caught a pass on the goal line, but extended his arms out in front of him. Ray Lewis hit him from behind and stopped him in his tracks. The TE caught the ball, and it was ruled a touchdown, but on further review, an overhead view clearly showed that the ball was a good foot short and it was overturned.

    To touch on what some other's have said, the pylon is considered in bounds, so if the ball crosses the plane of the endzone, in a player's possesion, but the player is flying through the air and lands out of bounds, if he hits the pylon, with ANY part of his body OR the ball, it is still a touchdown. This ONLY applies to players who have established legal in bounds possesion.

    If a reciever catches the ball in the air, but never lands anywhere in bounds, it is NOT a touchdown, because, by rule, he never established legal in bounds possesion. Even if a part of his body hits the pylon mid-air before landing out of bounds, it isn't a touchdown because legal in bounds possesion was never established.

    Then of course, there is the force out rule, which we'll save for another day.

    Source(s): www.nfl.com/rulebook
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  • Goyo
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    YES!

    The ball must enter the end zone for the score to count. It may only cross the tiniest corner, but it must cross the goal line.

    On the other hand, the player doesn't even have to enter the end zone or cross the goal line at all, just the ball.

    Which is why on very short yardage (less than 5 yards), the line pushes forward, and the ball carrier basically sticks his hand with the ball through the pile to get it across the line for the score.

    One other bit of info: when the ball is actually in the end zone, at least part of the player's body must actually be touching in-bounds. In other words, the player cannot jump over the goal line, hold the ball out over the end zone, and then land out of bounds. And if the player lands partially out-of-bounds, part of his body had to have made contact with the field in-bounds before the rest of him touched out-of-bounds.

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  • Tara
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    You're right, the goal line goes around the world. If you cross the goal line with the football before you, your self are down or go out of bounds its a touchdown. Even if the ball is outside the pylon. Yes, your example is a touchdown. Unless they changed the rule in the last 2 or 3 years, it was always like that.

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  • Tim
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    If your feet both touch the endzone then it's a touchdown. Regardless of the position of the ball. As a matter of fact, until this year, if any part of your body at all touches the endzone (even the pylon) before a part of your body touches out of bounds it's a touchdown. Example; Last night some player dove for the endzone and stuck his left hand out and touched the pylon as he flew out of bounds. Last year that would have been a touchdown. This year either the ball or two points of the body (hip, ankle, hand, elbow, etc.)have to hit the endzone before anything touches out of bounds.

    Source(s): I know for sure. I'm 100% positive.
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  • 1 decade ago

    The BALL must cross the plain before the players knee or elbow hit the ground. So if even the very very tip of the ball crosses that white line it is considered a touchdown

    • JOE6 years agoReport

      so, if a runner is tackled, and his knees are down before he extends the ball across the goal line, then it is not a touchdown, and should be marked where he was down. Correct? If so, then the Cowboys just got a TD they shouldn't have!

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  • 4 years ago

    ball cross goal line score touchdown player steps endzone

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  • 1 decade ago

    The ball only has to break the front plane of the goal line INBOUNDS BEFORE a player is legally down by contact of forward progress is stopped in order for a play to be ruled a touchdown.

    Source(s): 17 years as a football official.
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  • bennet
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Nfl Goal Line Rules

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  • gherd
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    the ball isn't out of bounds until it comes in contact with the ground or the player carrying it touches somewhere out of bounds. yes the ball does have to cross the goal line. that's why those orange pylons are in the corner. if the ball touches out of bounds without crossing the goal line it is down where it touched out of bounds.

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  • 1 decade ago

    the goaline (until this season) went "around the world" meaning that it streached past the outside of the sideline. so as long as the ball broke the endzone plane and the player himself never touched out of bounds, it is a TD even if the ball is out of bounds (they changed that rule this season though...now the ball has to be in bounds). if the player is in the endzone and the ball is outside of it, then it is not a TD. the ball has to be past the TD line...

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