Would this football trick play be legal?

Understanding pro and college rules may be different.

4th down and punting. On a punt the kicking team send two players down to cover the return as usual. The punter does a dropkick making it a field goal attempt. But it is really a pooch kick that goes further than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and is recovered by the wide out covering the kick.

  1. All field goals attempted (kicker) and missed from beyond the 20-yard line will result in the defensive team taking possession of the ball at the spot of the kick. On any field goal attempted and missed where the spot of the kick is on or inside the 20-yard line, ball will revert to defensive team at the 20-yard line.

What is the technical difference between drop kicking and punting? Is it that drop kicks hit the ground?

If that is true, what about this scenario: It’s 4th down and the punting team is on its own 1 yard line. The punter takes the snap in the end zone, drops the ball but his timing is off and does not kick the ball until after it touches the ground. Assuming he does not kick a 119 yard field goal, would the defense take over at the 1 yard line?

I can’t answer your question, but I do remember a play in college this season where the punter was pressured and lost control of the ball before kicking it, it was lying on the ground and he kicked it which resulted in a penalty for kicking the football.

I’m not sure of the exact rule, but it is legal for the defense to run back a field goal that doesn’t leave the field. So practically speaking, the defense(=receiving team) would probably not notice the ball hit the ground (or not think it through in time), and return it like a punt, so there would be no legal issues with the play.

Alternatively, you could run a play where the punter, instead of punting, throws the ball at a very high angle to simulate a punt in order to try to get a pass interference call on the defense as they block the WRs going downfield.

I am 99 percent positive the offensive team can’t advance the ball this way. A missed field goal is a dead ball unless a defensive player touches it. Ask Leon Lett. The offense can recover a missed field goal attempt if the ball does not go past the line of scrimmage, which would allow them to try another field goal if it was not fourth down. If it is fourth down, it would be a turnover on downs anyway.

So in your scenario, the best case is the offense has just punted the ball about 10 yards and then downed it. Not a good move.

Judging from the “10 yard” remark, you seem to be under the impression that a scrimmage kick works like a kickoff, where either side can recover after the ball travels 10 yards. That isn’t the case.

On any scrimmage kick–punt, drop kick, field goal from placement, or anything else–the ball belongs to the receiving team as soon as the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. The kicking team can only down the ball; they can’t recover and retain possession unless and until the receiving team touches the ball first beyond the line of scrimmage.

In this example, defensive pass interference will not be called.

I would think this is standard procedure. It’s better for the kicker to take a penalty and have to replay the punt than to have the defense recover the fumble for a touchdown.

Well, the last time I saw it happen it didn’t cause a loss of down – even if that’s changed, it’s still better than the alternative.

Why not?

In this case (assuming I am remembering correctly, it was in the middle of the season) it caused loss of down and yardage, so he should have taken a sack or fallen on the ball, but you make a good point about keeping it out of the defenders hand.

This happened in the Saints/Redskins game Sunday.

another example.

Correct, as several have noted, though it’s pretty uncommon, since the vast majority of missed field goals go past the end line. It usually only happens on a miss of a very long field goal, which falls short of the end line. (It happened a little more often when the NFL goal posts were on the goal line, rather than then end line; the NFL moved the goal posts back to the end line around 1974.)

A drop-kick looks mechanically a lot like a punt, but the ball is kicked after it bounces off the ground. It was the default way to kick extra points and field goals in the early days of football, when the ball was a little rounder. The place-kick replaced the drop-kick in the 30s and 40s, IIRC, though the drop-kick is still legal (Doug Flutie’s final play in the NFL was a drop-kick extra point). However, a drop-kick would still follow the rules for a placement kick, which means (as others have noted), the offense can’t recover / advance a “missed” drop-kick that lands beyond the line of scrimmage.

I seem to recall many year ago the Eagles did this when Buddy Ryan was the coach and Randall Cunningham was the QB. They got the PI call, but I have never seen it since. I think they passed a rule against it. This link cites a rule although I can’t say which level it is for (High School, College, Pro).

Note: I know nothing about football, though I do enjoy watching it.

Could the OP be describing something like an onside kick as used in the CFL?
Here’s part of a wiki Comparison of American and Canadian Football:

Hmmm, not really.

According to your link, the two big differences are:

  • On an onside kick (which is not a kick from scrimmage, as the fake punt that the OP described would be), the kicking team in Canada can advance the ball after recovering it (in American football, if the kicking team recovers it, they cannot advance it).

  • On a blocked kick (such as a field goal or punt), in Canada, if the kick didn’t go beyond the line of scrimmage before it was blocked, and the kicking team recovers it, they can try to advance it.

The real difference, in both cases, is that Canadian rules let the kicking team advance with the ball if they recover it.

At any rate, neither of those describe the situation that the OP described.

If you read the rule more carefully, I think you will realize that the Canadian “onside” kick is able to be performed as a punt at any time. That’s why the bit about having to be “behind” the kicker to be onside; to accomplish this, you’d have to have someone behind the punter, who then goes downfield to recover the ball. I wonder if this means the “quick kick” by a quarterback could be recovered by a running back behind him at the time of the kick.

I’m not sure I understand, but I’m trying to figure this out…!

I think the onside kick is usually done by team A after team A has scored and would usually kick the ball down the field to team B, but decide to try and get it back right away by having an onside team A receiver catch it first. I watched a team do this in a CFL game this season, though I don’t recall which team it was, nor the outcome of the play!


An onside kick can be done on any kick, according to that wiki paragraph, so on 3rd (or 4th) down Team A can do the usual thing and kick the ball way down field to team B, or attempt an onside kick to recover it. I think team A needs to pass the first down marker on that play, but it’s basically another (very risky) way to get a first down, other than passing or rushing (I really don’t understand the first down thing in that wiki paragraph).

So when the OP talks about punting on 4th down, and having the “wide out” catch it…if the “wide out” was located behind the punter when the ball was kicked, he could then be allowed to recover the ball for his team.

So while it appears that this is not legal in the NFL, it seems to me that it would be legal in the CFL. Risky and unlikely to succeed, but legal.