Rule 5- Series of Downs, Number of Down, and Team Possession after Penalty
Section 1- Series of Downs
- Art. 1- The team which next puts the ball in play by scrimmage following a free kick, touchback, or fair catch is awarded a series of four consecutively numbered downs in which to advance the ball to the line to gain. Each awarded first down starts a new series of four downs.
- Art. 2- A new series of down is awarded :
- After a first, second, or third down a new series of downs shall be awarded only after considering the effect of any act during the down and any dead ball foul.
- After fourth down, a new series of downs shall be awarded only after considering the effect of any act during the down, other than a non-player or unsportsmanlike foul.
- Art. 3- When a scrimmage down ends with the ball in the field of play or out of bounds between the goal lines, a new series is awarded to:
- Team A, if the ball belongs to A on or beyond the line to gain.
- Team B, if the ball belongs to B at the end of any down.
- Team B, if at the end of fourth down, the ball belongs to A behind the ling to gain.
- The team in possession at the end of the down, if there is a change of team possession during the down, unless the penalty is accepted for a foul which occurred before the change of possession.
- R, if K legally kicks during any scrimmage down and the ball is recovered by R, is in joint possession of opponents, goes out of bounds or becomes dead with no player in possession.
- The team in possession at the end of the down, if R is the first to touch a scrimmage kick while it is beyond the expanded neutral zone, unless the penalty is accepted for a foul which occurred before the kick ended.
- R at the spot of first touching by K, if K is the first to touch the kicked ball beyond the neutral zone expanded before it is touched beyond this zone by R and before it has come to rest.
- Art. 4- If the kickers recover a scrimmage kick in or behind the neutral zone and the ball has not been touched first by R beyond the neutral zone, the ball remains live and belongs to K and the down counts.
- Art. 5- When a free-kick down ends with the ball in the field of play or out of bounds between the goal lines, a new series is awarded to:
- R at the inbounds spot if R touches the kicked ball before it goes out of bounds.
- The team in possession of the ball when the down ends if the ball is recovered beyond Rs free-kick line with no first touching by K.
- R at the spot of recovery if K recovers the kicked ball before it travels the 10 yards to Rs free-kick line and before R has touched the ball.
- R if there is joint possession by R and K of a recovered kick.
- R at the spot of first touching by K if K is the first to touch the kicked ball before it has gone 10 yards
- Art. 6- In Articles 3g and 5e, the right of R to take the ball at the spot of the first touching by K is canceled if R touches the kick and thereafter during the down commits a foul of if the penalty is accepted for any foul committed during the down.