I was surprised by a play I saw in the Minnesota- New Orleans game yesterday.
I know that US football has a "dead ball" approach to many aspects of its kicking game when compared to Canadian football. Fair catches, those "fair non-catches" where the punted ball rolls around on the field until it comes to a stop, touchbacks, no open field punts, no rouges, are all part of this difference. I thought I understood the difference pretty well (and I must say I far prefer the Canadian approach), but yesterday I saw a new wrinkle I hadn't been aware of before.
In the last minute or so of the second quarter, Minnesota punted into the Saints' end, their return man tried to catch it but muffed it, the ball bounced around and Minnesota recovered and ran it in for a TD. But it was not a TD... the TV analysts said that you can't advance the ball on a muffed kick return, so Minnesota automatically gets the ball at the Saints' ten-yard line. (The Vikings promptly fumbled themselves and the Saints got the ball back).
Apparently a kicked ball in American football is more "dead" than I had realized. It seems that only if a returner catches it and runs with it can it actually move at all. Was this news to anyone else here?