Sunday, December 04, 2005

NFL - Fair catch kick

I just saw this on ESPN, and I think it's pretty damn cool. Who knew that the NFL had this rule? I've been watch and handicapping football for years and had never heard of this until this year. Of course, it won't change the way I bet, but it could make a difference in a win or two over my lifetime.

A fair catch kick is a little-known, rarely used play in American football. In essence, it is a combination of both a kickoff and a field goal attempt. At one time a very similar rule existed in rugby union called goal from mark.

A team can only make a fair catch kick immediately after making a successfully fair catch. If time expires while the ball is in play before a fair catch is made, the receiving team may extend the period with a fair catch kick.

When a team wants to make a fair catch kick, the ball is placed at the yard line where the fair catch was made. Both teams line up as if it were a normal kickoff, with the defense lined up 10 yards away from the ball. The kicker cannot use a tee. But if he kicks the ball between the uprights of the goal posts, he scores a field goal.

This play is rarely used. First of all, it is only allowed in the NFL, high school, and a few other levels of football. And generally when a fair catch is made, there is usually enough time on the clock to try to move the ball closer to the end zone.

Because a fair catch kick is rarely used, many players, coaches and fans don't even know that the rule even exists.

It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a free kick.