Fair catch kick

Fair catch kick

The fair catch kick is a little-known, rarely enacted rule in some forms of American football that allows a team, after making a fair catch of an opponent's kick, to attempt a field goal freely from the spot of the catch. It is one of the three types of free kicks; the other two are the kickoff and the safety kick. At one time a very similar rule existed in rugby union called goal from mark.

Rules and Variations

Fair catch kicks can only occur when a member of the receiving team signals for, and successfully makes, a fair catch (or is awarded a fair catch after a kick-catch interference penalty.) That team then has the option of restarting play either by snap or fair catch kick. If the team elects the fair catch kick option, the kicking team lines up at the spot where the fair catch was made, and the opposing team must line up at least ten yards downfield. The kicker then may either place kick the ball from a teammate's hold (a kickoff tee may be used in high school) or drop kick the ball. Three points are awarded for kicking the ball through the uprights.

The fair catch kick has unique rules which distinguish it from other free kicks, such as kickoffs. Most significantly, it is the only variant in which the kicking team can score a field goal. Also, onside kicks are not permitted; the ball cannot be recovered by the kicking team unless first touched by the receiving team. The clock starts when the ball is kicked. If the kick is unsuccessful, the rules are similar to that of a normal missed field goal: the opposing team has the option of fielding the ball and attempting a runback, or of taking possession at the spot of the kick. cite book
editor = Art McNally and Norm Schachter
title = Official Rules for Professional Football
edition = 1988
year = 1988
publisher = National Football League Properties
location = New York, New York
pages = 73
chapter = Rule 11, Section 5, Article 3
quote = On a free kick following a fair catch all general rules apply as for a field goal attempt from scrimmage. The clock starts when the ball is kicked. Exception: The ball is no longer a free kick ball. The kicking team can't get the ball unless it had been first touched or possessed by the receivers.
] A successful fair catch kick is followed by a normal kick off.

Fair catch kicks are permitted in the National Football League and at the high school level. Under National Federation of State High School Associations rules, a fair catch kick can be attempted under more circumstances: The option remains available if a dead ball foul occurs before the next play, or if a live ball foul occurs which leads to a replay of the down. Fact|date=December 2007 Fair catch kicks are not permitted at the collegiate level under NCAA rules.cite web
first=Jerry|last=Markbreit|authorlink=Jerry Markbreit
title=Jerry Markbreit's answers: The former NFL referee answers readers' questions every week throughout the season
publisher=Chicago Tribune
work=Chicago Sports.com

The last successful fair catch kick in the NFL was by Mac Percival in 1968, scoring the game-winning field goal for the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers. Through the 2007 season, 10 more have been attempted, none successful. [ [http://quirkyresearch.blogspot.com/2006/07/nfl-fair-catch-kick-attempts.html Quirky Research: NFL fair catch kick attempts ] ]

Circumstances of use

A fair catch kick is very rarely attempted, as only a specific combination of circumstances makes it advantageous for the receiving side. The punt or free kick must be fair-caught at a point close enough to make a field goal attempt plausible. There will usually be insufficient time to run more than one play from scrimmage, so is only likely to be seen when the punt would otherwise be the last or next-to-last play of the half. If occurring in the second half, the receiving team would presumably be tied or trailing by three points or fewer so that a successful field goal is significant. Finally, when these rare circumstances "are" present, a well-coached kicking team should recognize that it is not in their best interests to allow their opponents to make a successful fair catch. They may thus employ any of several tactics to avoid that outcome, such as deliberately kicking the ball out of bounds or far away from any opponent, or running a non-punting play from scrimmage that allows the game clock to expire safely.

In the NFL, a fair catch kick may still be attempted if the half ends on the fair catch play. This is not automatic; a team's captain or coach must exercise this option.

There are several reasons to prefer a fair catch kick to a normal field goal attempt from scrimmage. A fair catch kick is taken from the same yard-line of the catch rather than the usual seven to eight yards back. The defending team must remain 10 yards downfield before the kick. This allows the placekicker a full running start rather than the normal two-step approach, with no concerns about a poor snap from center or a low angle of trajectory that might allow the defense to block the kick.

Known attempts

:"All attempts in this list are from National Football League games. The Game Time column shows the time remaining in minutes and seconds, and the number of the quarter."

Regular season and postseason

Exhibition games

Declined opportunities

:"This list includes only fair catches made with no time remaining in a half, or where the fair-catching team attempted a field goal on the next play."

* Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Colts, November 25, 1965. [Strickler, George (Nov. 26, 1965). "Colts tie Lions, 24-24, in 4th quarter". "Chicago Tribune", p. e1.] Tied at 24, the Lions fair caught a punt on the Baltimore 42 with 24 seconds left. However, they inexplicably decided to attempt a 50-yard FG from scrimmage rather than the 42-yard free kick; Wayne Walker's attempt was low, nearly blocked, and came up short. The game ended in a 24-24 tie.

* Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins, December 25, 1971 (AFC Divisional Playoff). [Markus, Robert (Dec. 28, 1971). "Along the sports trail". "Chicago Tribune", p. c3.] Tied at 24, the Chiefs Dennis Homan fair caught a punt at his own 32 as time ran out in regulation. Chiefs' coach Hank Stram feared a Mercury Morris return of a short miss of the 68-yard FG, and decided not to kick. Also playing into Stram's decision was the fact Jan Stenerud missed two field goals earlier in the game, including a 32-yard attempt with 35 seconds left that would have won the game. Stenerud had a 42-yard attempt in the first overtime blocked, and Garo Yepremian ended the longest game in NFL history with a 37-yard field goal 7:40 into the second overtime, giving Miami a 27-24 victory.

* New England Patriots vs. New York Jets, October 12, 1986. ["Jets hold off Patriots to win, 31-24". (Oct. 13, 1986). "Washington Post", p. C6.] Down 31-24, New England's Irving Fryar inexplicably fair caught a punt deep in his own territory with no time left. The Patriots didn't request the kick (the distance was prohibitive and a successful field goal would have had no effect on the outcome), nor did the referees ask them if they wanted one. Referee Jerry Seeman said after the game that "it's the player's responsibility to come and ask for the extension."

* Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons, September 20, 1999. ["Dallas". (Sep. 22, 1999). "New York Times", p. D6.] Wayne McGarity fair caught a punt on the Atlanta 47 with no time left in the first half. Dallas coach Chan Gailey knew of the rule, and had specifically instructed McGarity to fair catch the punt if it was inside the 50, but Gailey forgot that he would be able to attempt the kick with no time left on the clock. Instead, the Cowboys went to the locker room.

* Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears, October 30, 2005. [http://www.nfl.com/liveupdate/gamecenter/28630/DET_Gamebook.pdf] Tied at 13, Eddie Drummond fair caught a punt at his own 28 with no time left in regulation. The Lions reasonably declined the chance at making an 82-yard free kick, and the game went to overtime.

* Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams, September 24, 2006. [ [http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/recap?game_id=28904&displayPage=tab_recap&season=2006&week=REG3 NFL Game Center: Game Recap - St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals - 2006 3 ] ] Down 16-14, Troy Walters fair caught a punt at his own 33 with no time left in regulation. Arizona's Robert Griffith was offside on the punt, but Rams coach Scott Linehan declined the penalty, thinking the game was over. Neil Rackers and the Cardinals' field goal unit lined up for the 77-yard free kick, but the Rams, given another chance to accept the penalty, did so, and took a knee on the final play of the game.


ee also

* Goal from mark

External links

* National Football League. [http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/fairkick Digest of Rules]
* NCAA (College) and NFHS (High School) [http://football.refs.org/rules/index.html Rules and Rules Changes]
* [http://www.packers.com/news/stories/2004/09/16/2/ Monolithic Packers-Bears Rivalry Evokes Numerous Memories]
* [http://tampabaybuccaneers.com/news/newsdetail.aspx?newsid=4140&print=true Strategy behind it]
* [http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/recap/NFL_20051009_TEN@HOU Used Oct 9th 2005]
* [http://www.kcrg.com/younews/10288512.html#. Video of Fair catch kick to win Iowa high school football game]

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