Punt (gridiron football)

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch photograph (1905), of Bradbury Robinson, football's first triple threat man, preparing to punt RobinsonPunting.jpg
St. Louis Post-Dispatch photograph (1905), of Bradbury Robinson, football's first triple threat man, preparing to punt

In gridiron football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.

Contents

The type of punt leads to different motion of the football. Alex Moffat invented the now-common spiral punt, as opposed to end-over-end.

Description

A punt in gridiron football is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. In football, the offense has a limited number of downs, or plays, in which to move the ball at least ten yards. The team in possession of the ball will typically punt the ball to the opposing team when they are on their final down (fourth down in American football, third down in Canadian football), do not want to risk a turnover on downs by not gaining enough yardage to make a first down, and do not believe they are in range for a successful field goal. The purpose of the punt is for the team in possession, or "kicking team", to move the ball as far as possible towards the opponent's end zone; this maximizes the distance the receiving team must advance the ball in order to score a touchdown upon taking possession. Thus, the most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes.

A punt play involves the kicking team lining up at the line of scrimmage with the kicker, or punter, typically lined up about 15 yards behind the center (in American football, where the end zone is only ten yards deep as opposed to twenty yards in Canadian football, this distance must be shortened if the kicker's normal position would be on or beyond the end line). The receiving team lines up with one or two players downfield to catch the ball. The center makes a long snap to the kicker who then drops the ball and kicks it before it hits the ground. The player who catches the ball is then entitled to attempt to advance the ball.

The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team at the spot where:

Other possible results include the punt being blocked behind the line of scrimmage, and the ball being touched, but not caught or possessed, downfield by the receiving team. In both cases the ball is then "free" and "live" and will belong to whichever team recovers it.

Rules

The Baylor Bears punting against the Texas A&M Aggies in 2007 Baylor-TexasA&M-punt-2007.jpg
The Baylor Bears punting against the Texas A&M Aggies in 2007

Common to American and Canadian football

The 2007 Virginia Tech Hokies football team blocks a punt against the Duke Blue Devils Virginia Tech Hokies block punt vs Duke.jpg
The 2007 Virginia Tech Hokies football team blocks a punt against the Duke Blue Devils

American football

Canadian football

Types of punts

The type of punt leads to different motion of the football.

End-over-end punt

Spiral punt

Alex Moffat is generally recognized as the creator of the spiral punt, having developed it during his time as a college athlete in the early 1880s. [6] It is the longest type of punt kick. In flight, the ball spins about its long axis, instead of end over end (like a drop punt) or not at all (like a regular punt kick). This makes the flight of the ball more aerodynamic, and the pointy ends of gridiron footballs mitigate the difficulty to catch.

Pooch punt

Teams may line up in a normal offensive formation and have the quarterback perform a pooch punt, also known as a quick kick. This usually happens in situations where the offense is in a 4th and long situation in their opponent's territory, but are too close to the end zone for a traditional punt and (depending on weather conditions) too far for a field goal try—a situation also known as the dead zone. Like fake punt attempts, these are rarely tried, although Randall Cunningham, Tom Brady, Matt Cassel and Ben Roethlisberger have successfully executed pooch punts in the modern NFL era. [7] [8] [9] Some pooch punts occur on third down and long situations in American football to fool the defense, which is typically not prepared to return a punt on third down.

Fake punts

On very rare occasions, a punting team will elect to attempt a "fake punt" — line up in punt formation and begin the process as normal, but instead do one of the following:[ citation needed ]

Although teams sometimes use fake punts to exploit a weakness in the opposing team's defense, a fake punt is very rare, and often used in desperate situations, such as to keep a drive alive when a team is behind and needs to catch up quickly, or to spark an offense in a game where the defense dominates. The high risk of "fake punts", and the need to maintain an element of surprise when the play is actually called, explains why this play is seldom seen. Fake punts are more likely to occur when there is short yardage remaining to secure a first down, or the line of scrimmage is inside the opponent's territory.[ citation needed ]

One of the most famous fake punts was by New York Giants linebacker Gary Reasons during the 1990 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, in which he rushed for 30 yards on a fourth down conversion via a direct snap to him instead of the punter, Sean Landeta, which was a critical difference in a 15–13 victory. The Giants went on to win Super Bowl XXV.[ citation needed ]

Rugby-style punt

A rugby-style punt is done with a running start (usually to the left or right) before punting while remaining behind the line of scrimmage. [10]

Bill Putich punting on the run. Bill Putich.png
Bill Putich punting on the run.

Record punts

Return

A punt return is one of the receiving team's options to respond to a punt. A player positioned about 35–45 yards from the line of scrimmage (usually a wide receiver or return specialist) will attempt to catch or pick up the ball after it is punted by the opposing team's punter. He then attempts to carry the ball as far as possible back in the direction of the line of scrimmage, without being tackled or running out of bounds. He may also lateral the ball to teammates in order to keep the play alive should he expect to be tackled or go out of bounds. DeSean Jackson, then playing for the Philadelphia Eagles in the "Miracle at the New Meadowlands", is the only NFL player to return a punt for a game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation. [19] The NFL record holder for the number of punt returns for a touchdown in a career is Devin Hester with 14.

See also

Related Research Articles

Canadian football Canadian team sport

Canadian football is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area.

Gridiron football Sport primarily played in the United States and Canada

Gridiron football, also known as North American football or, in North America, simply football, is a family of football team sports primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11-player teams, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, featuring 12-player teams, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include indoor football and Arena football, football for smaller teams, and informal games such as touch and flag football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, high school, semi-professional, and amateur levels.

Onside kick Short kickoff in gridiron football to try to keep possession of the ball

In gridiron football, an onside kick is a kickoff deliberately kicked short in an attempt by the kicking team to regain possession of the ball. This is in contrast with a typical kickoff, in which the kicking team intends to give the ball to the other team and thus kicks the ball far downfield in order to maximize the distance the receiving team has to advance the ball in order to score. The risk to the team attempting an onside kick is that if it is unsuccessful and the receiving team gets the ball, the receiving team usually has a much better field position than it might have with a normal kickoff. Rules and procedures for onside kicks differ between the different codes and leagues of gridiron football.

Down (gridiron football)

A down is a period in which a play transpires in gridiron football. The down is a distinguishing characteristic of the game compared to other codes of football, but is synonymous with a "tackle" in rugby league. The team in possession of the football has a limited number of downs to advance ten yards or more towards their opponent's goal line. If they fail to advance that far, possession of the ball is turned over to the other team. In most situations, if a team reaches their final down they will punt to their opponent, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in range, they might instead attempt to score a field goal.

In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead on or behind a team's own goal line and the opposing team gave the ball the momentum, or impetus, to travel over or across the goal line. Since the 2018 season, touchbacks have also been awarded in college football on kickoffs that end in a fair catch by the receiving team between its own 25-yard line and goal line. Such impetus may be imparted by a kick, pass, fumble, or in certain instances by batting the ball. A touchback is not a play, but a result of events that may occur during a play. A touchback is the opposite of a safety with regard to impetus since a safety is scored when the ball becomes dead in a team's end zone after that team — the team whose end zone it is — caused the ball to cross the goal line.

This is a glossary of terms used in Canadian football. The Glossary of American football article also covers many terms that are also used in the Canadian version of the game.

  1. Legally positioned at the kick-off or the snap. On kick-offs, members of the kicking team must be behind the kick-off line; members of the receiving team must be at least 10 yards from the kick-off line. On scrimmages, at the snap the offence must be behind the line of scrimmage; the defence must be at least one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
  2. A player of the kicking team who can legally recover the kick. The kicker and any teammates behind the ball at the time of the kick are onside. Thus on kick-offs all players of the kicking team are onside, but on other kicks usually only the kicker is. The holder on a place kick is not considered onside.
  1. A defensive position on scrimmages, also called free safety. Typical formations include a single safety, whose main duty is to cover wide receivers. See also defensive back.
  2. A two-point score. The defence scores a safety when the offence carries or passes the ball into its own goal area and then fails to run, pass, or kick the ball back into the field of play; when this term is used in this sense, it is also referred to as a safety touch.
Comparison of American and Canadian football

American and Canadian football are gridiron codes of football that are very similar; both have their origins in rugby football, but some key differences exist.

Single (football)

In Canadian football, a single is a one-point score that is awarded for certain plays that involve the ball being kicked into the end zone.

Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.

American football rules Rules for American football

Gameplay in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.

In gridiron football, clock management is the manipulation of a game clock and play clock to achieve a desired result, typically near the end of a match. It is analogous to "running out the clock" seen in many sports, and the act of trying to hasten the game's end is often referred to by this term. Clock management strategies are a significant part of American football, where an elaborate set of rules dictates when the game clock stops between downs, and when it continues to run.

Kickoff (gridiron football)

A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, or scores a touchdown. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.

Comparison of American football and rugby union

A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

A comparison between American football and rugby league is possible because of their shared origins and similar game concepts. Rugby league is arguably the most similar sport to American football after Canadian football: both sports involve the concept of a limited number of downs/tackles and scoring touchdowns/tries takes clear precedence over goal-kicking.

Field goal

A field goal (FG) is a means of scoring in gridiron football. To score a field goal, the team in possession of the ball must place kick, or drop kick, the ball through the goal, i.e., between the uprights and over the crossbar. American football requires that a field goal must only come during a play from scrimmage, while Canadian football retains open field kicks and thus field goals may be scored at any time from anywhere on the field and by any player. The vast majority of field goals, in both codes, are place kicked. Drop kicked field goals were common in the early days of gridiron football but are almost never done in modern times. In most leagues, a successful field goal awards three points.

Return specialist American/Canadian football player who specializes in kick returns

A return specialist or kick returner is a player on the special teams unit of a gridiron football team who specializes in returning punts and kickoffs. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most also play another position such as wide receiver, defensive back, or running back. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.

All-purpose yards or all-purpose yardage is a gridiron football statistical measure. It is virtually the same as the statistic that some football leagues refer to as combined net yards. In the game of football, progress is measured by advancing the football towards the opposing team's goal line. Progress can be made during play by the offensive team by advancing the ball from its point of progress at the start of play known as the line of scrimmage or by the defensive team after taking possession of the football via a change of possession. When the offensive team advances the ball by rushing the football, the player who carries the ball is given credit for the difference in progress measured in rushing yards. When the offensive team advances the ball by pass reception, the player who catches the reception is given credit for the difference in progress measured in reception yards. Although the ball may also be advanced by penalty, these yards are not considered all-purpose yards. Progress lost via quarterback sacks is classified variously. Thus, all-purpose yards is a combined total of rushing yards, receiving yards, and all forms of return yards only. Some sources do not specify which types of return yards count toward this total because the most common forms of return yards are kick and punt return yards.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

A coffin corner refers to the corner of the playing field in American football just in front of the end zone, usually from the 5-yard line to the goal line. A perfect coffin corner kick is one that goes out of bounds just before either orange pylon located in the front of the end zone. The punter tries to place the ball so that it lands out of bounds or is downed on the field by another member of the kicking team anywhere inside the 5-yard line without touching the goal line, thus forcing difficult field position for the receiving team on their next scrimmage.

References

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  10. First Sporting Production (2015-10-17), Aussie punter Blake O'Neill's Punts 80 yard Rugby Style Punt , retrieved 2017-09-07
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  13. "NFL Punting Leaders (All Time)". PlayerFilter.com.
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