When 12 players enter the huddle during the offense, the whistle is blown immediately, and five yards are lost.
12 men in the huddle are not punishable, however it can be considered an infraction if they are substituted.
It will only be called on offense that twelve men are in the huddle, not on defense.
You can learn more about football penalties by reading our guides on ineligible receivers downfield, tripping penalties, or snap penalties.
12 men in a huddle is illegal, why?
If twelve players simply huddle together, why is this penalty called? There is no rule against teams having one more player than their opponents.
It is called in the huddle because of its impact on defensive substitutions.
Football defenses are always watching which offensive players are on the field.
To counteract this, the defense is going to bring some large run-stopping players onto the field, assuming the offense is in 22 personnel with two tight ends and two running backs.
Let’s say the offense consists of one running back, no tight ends, and four wide receivers.
It is very likely that this grouping will throw the ball, so the defense will react by adding more defensive backs to stop it.
As the offense huddles twelve players, the defense has no idea who the offense is using.
It will not be possible for the defense to react with a substitution once the offense breaks the huddle.
There must be only eleven offensive players on the field by the time the offense starts huddles. Coaches at all levels are aware of this rule and should never put twelve offensive players on the field at once.
Similar to sideline warnings for coaches, these penalties are fairly easy to avoid.
As a result, the defense has enough time to react to substitutions made by the offense.
In the huddle, can the defense receive a 12?
As a result of substitutions, only the offense can receive a penalty for having twelve players in the huddle.
A football defense reacts to different personnel on offense based on what they see on defense, meaning it is always the defense that makes substitutions.
As a result, the defensive team completes its substitutions second, which means that they can have more than eleven players on the field at the snap.
Having twelve players earlier in the play is not penalized since these defensive substitutions are made so last minute.
Unlike defenses, offenses don’t react to defense personnel, so defenses needn’t worry about giving the offenses time to react to them.
A penalty will be assessed if the defense starts the play with twelve players on the field.
There will be a penalty assessed for having twelve players in the huddle instead of an illegal substitution penalty.
These two infractions result in a loss of five yards.