Yesterday, we learned a little bit more about kickoffs, their strategies and the critical role they can play in any given game. Today we wrap up our discussion with an explanation of rules and penalties related to kickoffs. After today’s post, you can reasonably claim to be a kickoff expert.
1. No Score: There may be times, especially with the new rule that sets kickoffs at the 35-yard line, when the kicker sends the ball through the uprights at the far end of the field. Please don’t jump up and down in excitement because your team got a field goal. You’ll embarrass yourself. Kickoffs can’t score points.
2. Invalid Fair Catch Signal: If the returner doesn’t properly signal for the fair catch, the receiving team loses five yards.
3. Fair Catch Interference: Once a returner signals a fair catch, no member of the kicking team can interfere with his ability to catch the ball. Doing so will add give the receiving team an additional 15 yards from the spot of the foul.
4. When the returner catches the ball after signaling a fair catch, he may not advance the ball by running with it. If he does, it is a delay of game penalty and will cost the receiving team five yards from the spot of the catch.
5. If the returner signals a fair catch but does not catch the ball, he may not block or contact an opposing player until the ball is touched by anyone. The penalty is 15 yards.
6. If the ball goes out of bounds before entering the end zone and was not touched by a player on the receiving team, it is a penalty. The receiving team will get the ball either where it went out of bounds, or 30 yards from where it was kicked…whichever is more advantageous to the receiving team.
7. If the ball goes out of bounds on an onside kick attempt, the kicking team gets a five-yard penalty and must kick again. If it goes out of bounds on the next attempt, the receiving team gets the ball where it went out of bounds.
8. Illegal Touch: As you know from yesterday’s post, a kickoff must go ten yards to be legal. If a member of the kicking team touches the ball before it goes ten yards, it is an illegal touch and the receiving team gets the ball where it ended up (or went out of bounds), called the “dead ball spot,” or where it was illegally touched.