Punt coverage

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Punt coverage

Postby ChiliPalmer » Fri Mar 26, 2004 6:52 am

I've always found the rules kinda fuzzy on punt coverage. How many times have you seen the ball bounce near (but outisde) the goal line, a player on the punting team dives and scoops it back into the playing field, a teammate downs it, and that's the spot. It's clear that if the ball touches the ground past the goal line, it's a touchback. But the rest is fuzzy. If that same player bats the ball back to a teammate, who touches it but mishandles it, and it bounces into the endzone, it's a touchback. All that said, it seems that the ball may break the plane of the goal line, and not be a touchback as long as the ball has not hit the ground inside the endzone and the player batting it back has not stepped inside the endzone. Once that is done, the ball can bounce around, it can even be touched by a punting team player, but it's not down until it's been controlled.

My point is this, I think they have to say that a punt is down at the time of, and at the spot of, any touch (after the punter) by the punting team. Thereby, once the untouched ball crosses the goal line, it's a touchback, even if it's batted back like described above. The reason I say that, and the reason for this post (eventually), is that the rule, as it stands now, would allow for the following scenario, but you never see it happen. A punter hits a short but VERY high punt. It comes down at about the 25 yard line, but it isn't fair caught. It takes a backward bounce. The receiving team will always clear away from the ball so as not to risk a muff. The punting team will invariably control the ball before it goes back further. But if the ball isn't dead until it's downed or controlled, why wouldn't the punting team just bat it down the field and control it inside the five? Or, for that matter, knock the ball into a receiving team player and try to recover the muff?

Maybe I'm missing something.

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Postby Irn-Bru » Fri Mar 26, 2004 8:02 pm

Some answers from the rulebook:

9. A player may not bat or punch:

(a) A loose ball (in field of play) toward his opponent's goal line or in any direction in either end zone.



Because of this rule, you will never encounter the situation where the punting team simply "rolls" a ball down to the 2 and then picks up the ball, there would be a flag thrown on that play.


Also, here's an obscure rule which might have to do with it:


12. Any member of the punting team may down the ball anywhere in the field of play. However, it is illegal touching (Official's time out and receiver's ball at spot of illegal touching). This foul does not offset any foul by receivers during the down.


Does this mean that all "downed balls" should actually be a penalty?



Interestingly enough, this rule seems to have been ignored recently:


. A player who signals for a fair catch is not required to catch the ball. However, if a player signals for a fair catch, he may not block or initiate contact with any player on the kicking team until the ball touches a player. Penalty: snap 15 yards behind spot of foul.


Can anyone explain why this is no longer enforced to me? I've seen those fair catchers just knock the soup out of gunners sometimes, which makes me wince.
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Postby ChiliPalmer » Fri Mar 26, 2004 9:34 pm

Interesting. I guess that answers my question. The reason I thought it strange was because if the punting team doesn't control the ball before it rolls into the endzone, even if they touched it first, it becomes a touchback.

I also asume this rule came into effect after the Holy Roller play.

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Postby Irn-Bru » Sat Mar 27, 2004 9:25 am

Yes, the holy roller play had something to do with the modern rules, but had more to do with the rules pertaining to "Within 2 minutes of the end of the half the offensive team can not advance the ball on a fumble. . ." type clauses that are in there.

The general principle behind punt coverages seems to be that the rules will always favor the receiving team (again, seems to be). So if coverage unit player bobbles the ball trying to down it, and it moves from the 8 yard line to the 12, the receiving team will have the ball on the 12 yard line. However, if the same bobble happened and the ball moved from the 12 to the 8, the receiving team would have it on the 12.
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Postby redskinz4ever » Wed Apr 14, 2004 10:50 am

not to get off the subject i know morton will return punts,but will thrash and morton return kickoffs?REDSKINZ4EVER!!!
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Postby joebagadonuts » Fri Apr 16, 2004 7:37 am

if you want to hear something rather amusing, when i was a kid watching football, and on a punt the announcer would say '...and it takes a redskins bounce...' i thought he meant that there was a specific kind of bounce called the 'redskin bounce', and that there was a type of bounce named after every team. like if it bounced and flipped twice, then landed on the point, that was a redskins bounce, but if the ball flipped only once, then landed on the laces, that might be a bengals bounce or something.

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Postby BringThePain! » Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:40 am

joebagadonuts wrote:if you want to hear something rather amusing, when i was a kid watching football, and on a punt the announcer would say '...and it takes a redskins bounce...' i thought he meant that there was a specific kind of bounce called the 'redskin bounce', and that there was a type of bounce named after every team. like if it bounced and flipped twice, then landed on the point, that was a redskins bounce, but if the ball flipped only once, then landed on the laces, that might be a bengals bounce or something.

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Postby Irn-Bru » Thu Apr 22, 2004 6:42 am

Does anyone know why the fake fair catchers have been allowed to block oncoming players in light of that (out of date?) rule up there? Ever since reviewing the rules to try and answer the original question, I've actually been wondering about that. . .
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Postby joebagadonuts » Thu Apr 22, 2004 7:01 am

actually, i've seen that called more frequently in the past couple of years (the punt receiver blocking defenders after signaling a fair catch).
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Postby Irn-Bru » Thu Apr 22, 2004 7:09 am

Hmm, interesting. I've never seen it called (but of course I believe you), the reason why I was wondering about it is because it seems like such a harsh penalty -- 15 yards from spot of foul! I guess usually this will just translate into half the distance to the goal, but that can be a big deal from a touchback (putting the ball on the 10). I've seen a lot of return men get away with it, and for such a big penalty I wondered why.
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Postby joebagadonuts » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:05 pm

those calls stuck out in my mind only because, like you, i hadn't seen it called all that much. so when i did see it called a couple times this year, i was like 'wow'.
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