Game Day NFL Referee Signals 101

NFL Referee Signals

Super Bowl Sunday is a day filled with great food, family, friends, noise and lots of fun.  However, not everyone is a football enthusiast. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be a part of the excitement and conversation.

Women are more involved than ever when it comes to sports and game day.  As a matter of fact, Sarah Thomas became the first NFL female referee.  She was also the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game, and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium.  I love watching her and her daughter in the  Activia commercial too. 

I grow up in a house full of boys.  Baseball, football and basketball were a big part of my life.  Sports is huge in my family to this day. Now it’s our grandchildren who are playing, but the conversation remains the same.  Knowing the game is essential.  Understanding the basics can keep you in the game and a part of the conversation.  Learning the  positions and the NFL Referee Signals is a great place to start. There’s nothing better than being able to say Off Side, Face Mask or Clipping when someone asks what happened.


NFL Signals

        NFL Referee Signals 101

NFL Referee Signals 101

Here’s a few NFL Referee Signals that you may see during the game:

First Down – Each team has four attempts to move the ball 10 yards. Each attempt is called a down.  There’s first down, second down, third down, fourth down.  If a team gains ten yards or more on a play, the offensive will attempt another series of downs.  If the team doesn’t not gain 10 yards or more on the fourth down, the opposing team takes position of the ball at the spot where the fourth attempt failed.

Incomplete/No Good – Pass incomplete, penalty declined,  missed field goal, missed extra point

Offsides – A player is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.  The line of scrimmage is the location of the ball.

Illegal Contact – A defensive player interferes with an offensive receiver more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.  The quarterback must still be in the pocket with the ball in his hands.

Facemask  – Tackling or trying to restrain a player by grabbing their face mask.  Usually a 15 yard penalty because of the possibility of an injury.

Interference – A player interferes with a receiver’s ability to make a fair attempt to catch the ball.

Ball Illegally Touched – An illegible receiver such as an offensive lineman catches a pass.

Holding – An offensive player uses his hands, arms, or any other part of his body to prevent a defensive player from tackling the ball carrier.

Loss of Down – The offensive team loses yardage on a play.

Pass Interference – A player interferes with another player’s opportunity to catch the ball.

Player Ejected From Game – Players from either team can be ejected from the game.  The coach or a member of the staff for unsportsman like conduct/personal fouls.  This can be for violent behavior or any other violation of the game rules.

Unsportsman Like Conduct – A non-contact foul by a player, coach or fan that usually involves insulting language or taunting the official.

Touch Down –  The ultimate goal.  Passing or carrying the ball into the end zone.

Too Many Men On The Field – More players are on the field than allowed.

Safety –  When a player is tackled/trapped in their end zone, the other team is awarded 2 points.  The trapped team kicks the ball from its own 20-yard line after the safety.

Tripping – An unsportsmanlike conduct that results in a ten yard penalty against the offending team.

Time Out – Three 2 minutes time outs are allow in each half of the game.

Personal Foul – Assessed after a play and can be called on either the offense or the defense team.  Roughing the kicker or passer, unnecessary roughness, clipping, tripping and clothesline are personal fouls.

We hope you will find our NFL Referee Signals helpful.  Check out our 20+ Mouth Watering Game Day Dips.