NFL: Can the player who catches a punt pass it laterally?

So, when a player catches a punt, is he allowed to make a lateral pass to a teammate? Reason I ask is that I saw it happen yesterday in a CFL game. The player fielded the punt on his own 20 yd. line and lateralled it to a teammate. That player managed to run the ball down the sidelines to the kicking team’s 25 yd. line, but fumbled it. Kicking team recovered, with about 30 seconds to go. Wild end to a good game.

So, could that happen in the NFL if the player catching the punt didn’t invoke the “fair catch” rule?

Absolutely. A lateral pass is always an option in the NFL, as long as the ball is in play.


You can backward pass (“lateral”) or hand the ball to any other player at almost any time.

I like watching Texas play Texas A&M. Inevitably there is a double reverse handoff on a kickoff return at least once in the game. :slight_smile:

thanks, all.

A couple of famous examples of lateral passes on end-of-game kickoff returns:

Music City Miracle (Tennessee Titans vs. Buffalo Bills, 2000)

“The Play” (Cal State vs. Stanford, 1982)

But even a direct handoff must be lateral or behind the ball carrier. I remember an NFL game a few years back where a defensive player was running back a turnover then directly handed it to another player who ran it in for an apparent TD. But because the receiving player was ahead of the ball carrier the play was called back for an illegal forward pass.

Obviously, posting is not my native language. :slight_smile: