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  #1  
Old 11-16-2008, 11:29 PM
Cuckoorex Cuckoorex is offline
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NFL: downing a punt

Every so often, I see a punt in the NFL where the receiving team doesn't come near the ball because the punting team coverage is able to get down the field and surround the ball...so the ball just kind of is bobbling around, maybe rolling this way or that, until someone from the punting team touches the ball, then the ref blows the whistle and the play is dead.

So what stops the punting team from surrounding the ball and just standing there NOT touching the ball for X number of minutes? Does the ref blow the whistle when he just thinks the play is dead, or is he obliged to wait until a player touches the ball?

I thought of this while watching the Vikings lose to the Bucs. Seemed to me that when the Bucs had to punt and the Vikes had no one to take the punt that they could have stood around the ball until time expired and ended the game.
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  #2  
Old 11-16-2008, 11:31 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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If it's not touched, the ball is blown dead two or three seconds after it stops moving. You can't kill the clock that way.
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Old 11-17-2008, 12:40 AM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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The kicking team touching the ball does not make the ball dead, taking possession makes it dead or surrounding it will cause the official to deem it dead.

If the kicking team merely touches the ball, without taking possession, it's still a live ball, but it is considered an illegal touch. The receiving team in that case can either attempt to return the kick or take the ball at the spot of the illegal touch.

Thus, if the kicking team touches the punt first, there is little risk to the return team to pick it up and go crazy on the return because once the kicking team touches it, the worst that can happen to the receiving team is they get possession at the spot of the illegal touch.

Last edited by Bearflag70; 11-17-2008 at 12:41 AM..
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Old 11-17-2008, 12:46 AM
Bearflag70 Bearflag70 is offline
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Another interesting rule I learned the other day was regarding kickoffs going out of bounds. It's a penalty on the kicking team to kickoff out of bounds. I knew that.

However, if the ball is rolling CLOSE to the sideline in the field of play, the return player can put one foot out of bounds, then reach into the field of play, and touch the ball; the result is considered a kickoff out of bounds penalty on the kicking team even though the ball itself never actually went over the sideline.
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Old 11-17-2008, 01:12 AM
Darth Sensitive Darth Sensitive is offline
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Gah. This made me start looking for the column in some (Chicago?) newspaper where an (ex?) NFL official answers reader questions about various situations.

Does anyone have an idea what I'm talking about and where to find it?
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  #6  
Old 11-17-2008, 08:17 AM
lieu lieu is offline
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Jerry Markbreit answers... Chicago Trib
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  #7  
Old 11-17-2008, 08:50 AM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70 View Post
If the kicking team merely touches the ball, without taking possession, it's still a live ball, but it is considered an illegal touch. The receiving team in that case can either attempt to return the kick or take the ball at the spot of the illegal touch.

Thus, if the kicking team touches the punt first, there is little risk to the return team to pick it up and go crazy on the return because once the kicking team touches it, the worst that can happen to the receiving team is they get possession at the spot of the illegal touch.
This happened to my team in high school. We kicked off, the ball bounced and went dead; we touched it and began to run off the field. A few seconds later, the receiving team picked up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown.

We protested and the ref said that he hadn't blown his whistle. According to him, the whistle that we had heard might have been the marching band director in a nearby parking lot (Personally, I suspect that it had more to do with intradistrict politics and other pissing matches.)
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:12 AM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
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I'm not really about to argue with Markbreit or Bearflag70, but this is the first time I've seen the kicking team downing a punt (not a kickoff) being described as "illegal touching." I always thought that the play was immediately blown dead the instant the punting team touched the ball, with no possibility of the receiving team then grabbing it, and certainly no "penalty" being involved. Perhaps it is blown dead when the punting team actually controls the ball (by holding it or pinning it on the ground), while it is still live if they batted it around before it is controlled, but returned to the first point of contact which is farthest upfield.
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  #9  
Old 11-17-2008, 11:32 AM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70 View Post
Another interesting rule I learned the other day was regarding kickoffs going out of bounds. It's a penalty on the kicking team to kickoff out of bounds. I knew that.

However, if the ball is rolling CLOSE to the sideline in the field of play, the return player can put one foot out of bounds, then reach into the field of play, and touch the ball; the result is considered a kickoff out of bounds penalty on the kicking team even though the ball itself never actually went over the sideline.
This is the rule in rugby, too. FWIW, you can field a kick with one foot in touch with the same result. Similarly, you can run from touch, jump, catch the ball, and land in bounds, resulting in a live ball. Also, you can run from the pitch, bat the ball back in, and land out of bounds, and the ball will remain live.
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Old 11-17-2008, 12:14 PM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
I'm not really about to argue with Markbreit or Bearflag70, but this is the first time I've seen the kicking team downing a punt (not a kickoff) being described as "illegal touching." I always thought that the play was immediately blown dead the instant the punting team touched the ball, with no possibility of the receiving team then grabbing it, and certainly no "penalty" being involved. Perhaps it is blown dead when the punting team actually controls the ball (by holding it or pinning it on the ground), while it is still live if they batted it around before it is controlled, but returned to the first point of contact which is farthest upfield.
I've seen it a bunch of times.

Your examples are correct; that's exactly how/when they blow it dead. But it is illegal touching. That particular penalty doesn't carry a loss of yards or replay of down, though. It's just a procedural thing. I suspect it's so that the punting team can't "accidentally" bounce the ball into the return man and then grab it and start running.

The Giants punt returner last year -- RW McQuarters maybe? -- used to mess with the punting team all the time. They'd come down, surround the ball, then one of them would touch it. As they touched the ball, he'd jump in as if to grab the ball and start running. He even managed to grab it and run a couple times. hehheh.

Cracked me up every time.
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  #11  
Old 11-17-2008, 07:17 PM
robardin robardin is offline
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"Down a punt"? "Blow it dead"? "Illegal touching"?

I have to say, as someone only passingly familiar with the game of football, it seems that perhaps baseball's pre-eminence in the field of "sports analogies as sexual euphemisms" needs to be revisited!
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