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Defensive Holding

What is Defensive Holding?

A penalty on the defense that is flagged when a defensive player uses his hands to pull and hold the opposing offensive player while outside the 5 yard mark of the line of scrimmage.

Sporting Charts explains Defensive Holding

Defense players need to be physical with their opponents, and legally they can.  There is a 5 yard area from the line of scrimmage where a defensive player can legally use his hands on an opposing player, but outside of that five-yard mark, if a player holds his opponent, the defense will be assessed a 5 yard penalty and an automatic first down.  

Defensive players are only allowed to use their hands outside the 5 yard zone to protect themselves from "impeding contact" coming from a receiver.

If a pass is deflected or batted down then it's free for defensive players to hold, use their hands/arms, etc.

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