NFL Kicking Rules

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?

It certainly was news to me. I won’t pretend to know much about the NFL since I don’t spend much time watching it, but I thought that was ridiculous. That takes away a very exciting aspect of the game.

Oh well. Just one more reason why the CFL is soooooooooo much better than the NFL.

I watched some of the game, not all of it and missed this play. Are you sure the Saints returner actually touched the ball? If he did then it's a live ball I would think. :?

Yep, he touched it. It bounced right off on his hands.

Nope. This has been around for a while.

I don't get it. Just as I don't get a lot of the rules re: the kicking game.

The kicking game in the States is not a big aspect of the game, As is evident by the rules. IMO I would say that it is really a 45 % offence, 45 % defence and 10% kicking. Therefore the coaching would tend to concentrate on the offence and defence and not on the kicking. But in the CFL, the kicking punting (rouge included) is a major part of the game. I would break it down almost equally with 33% offence, 33% defence and 33% kicking. That is why I would rather watch the 3 down CFL game rather than the 4 down NFL variety. Any other thoughts out there?



My understanding (can't guarantee it's true) is that the NFL rules include the term "muffed" related to punt returns and, I believe, also other kick returns. When a returner fails to catch the kick, he "muffed" it rather than fumbled it. To "fumble," requires possession of the ball first and just touching the ball, while trying to catch it, doesn't qualify as "possession." The kicking team can recover the ball on a "muffed" play, but not advance it. I think NFL rule makers "muffed" this rule and many, many more!

Same rule applies to kickoffs too.

The focus in American football is purely on the scrimmage and all attempts are made to keep it that way. Kicks from scrimmage are only allowed behind the line of scrimmage. Any other kick from scrimmage is illegal and subject to penalty.

Another interesting wrinkle is that a failed attempt by a returner to secure a punt isn't considered a fumble. It's a muff and has it's own set of of rules i.e. a recovered muff can not be advanced.

Needless to say, I'm surprised American football even bothers with kicking anymore. I mean if you have downed punts, fair catches, dead balls touching in the end zone, missed field goals sailing dead and muffed punts that can't be advanced, you're one more rule away from just having a punter stand out there on 4th down to hoof it and the receiving team can take it where it lands. Heck, why keep Peyton Manning off the field one more play? Why not just let the punting team forfeit 4th down for 40 yards of field position?

I mean we've gone in the opposite direction in Canada recently making punts out of bounds though the air between the 20s illegal.

i think the rouge is pretty stupid .... being rewarded for a failure is not for pro sports.
why all the NFL animousity .....

its like Hamiltonians saying over and over how Toronto sucks and stuff ... gets kinda tiresome...

i know this thread wasn't that bad against the NFL but wow just pops up on this board over and over

don't be so insecure people the CFL is a good game ...

Glad to know I wasn't the only one surprised by this. But I'm not surprised CaptainKirk knew! Good on ya!

Another thing I noticed in that game was the inordinate frequency and length of breaks for commercials, timeouts and assorted official reviews. A writer in this morning's Toronto Star said there were two separate occasions where in a span of 13-15 minutes there were 6 minutes of commercials, lots of shots of coaches standing around waiting for officials to announce the results of their reviews, and 7 actual football plays. The writer predicts it will be even worse during the Super Bowl. Yikes!

that kinda stuff ..... is just what i was talking about .

...and while we're at it, is anyone else behind simplifying our kicking rules in Canada?

I mean why is any kickoff out of bounds illegal while punts out of bounds are only illegal through the air between the 20s and any place kick or drop kick from scrimmage can be hoofed straight out?

Why does the rouge on kickoffs only count if fielded by a return team player while any kick from scrimmage is scored as a rouge if kicked into or through the end zone without being advanced back out?

Regarding those two rules, I'd prefer:

  1. Any kick out of bounds in the field of play through the air deemed illegal. I don't see why the kicker on a kickoff is penalized for the bounce of an asymmetrical football out of bounds.The 20 yard line on punts just feels too arbitrary. Its not like we have flags or foul polls on the 20s to watch for the close ones either. I'm not that in love with the coffin kick to warrant a silly 20 yard line rule. There would still be punting skill at play. If the punter can get the ball in the corner in bounds, I think it would still be difficult for any returner to get it out but at least he'd still have the chance.

  2. Rouges should count on all returnable kicks into the end zone regardless of type of kick.

While I'm behind cleaning up those rules and having more streamlined kicking rules, I wouldn't go as far as to see field goals count on kick offs or punts.

Good information here, no wonder I like our game better than the American game.

being rewarded for a failure is not for pro sports

Ryck, this idea of being rewarded for failure is an improper way to interpret the rouge. You should know that my friend. :wink:


You raise a point that is often made about the rouge. But as is correctly noted whenever your point is made, the rouge is NOT a reward for failure. It is a reward for kicking the ball into the other team's end zone and preventing them from returning it out. That is not a failure, it's a success.

When it happens on a punt, there is no "failure" at all on the part of the kicking team for which they are being rewarded. It's a reward for their accomplishment.

When it happens on a missed field goal, it remains what it is-- a point awarded for kicking the ball into the defending team's end zone and preventing them from returning it out. If the field goal attempt is successful, the additional two points awarded may be seen as a "bonus" for the accuracy of the kick. But this does not negate the character of the rouge on kick that is not through the uprights.

The existence of the rouge in Canadian football is a natural feature of a kicked ball being "live" in the Canadian game, whereas it is "dead" in American ball (even more dead than I had thought until yesterday's game). The concepts are quite different, and the treatment of a kicked ball is a logical consequence of that. As a poster here once said, in American ball the goal line is a sort of "finish line", while in Canadian football it is the "home" of the defending team's "territory", to be defended at the penalty of the loss of a point.

As for having animosity toward the NFL, that is not correct. I do think the game yesterday went on too long, and the delays were too frequent. I do think there is too much of that, and that US football has more of it. Criticizing that, or preferring Canadian football, does not mean I have animosity toward American football. I don't. But if I have a criticism, surely it is acceptable to state it? I have criticisms about Canadian football too, as do others here. I make them in other threads when the subject presents itself.

Well said steve about the rouge and yes, myself included, really enjoy the NFL, I just enjoy the CFL better for the most part, that's all.

I think people are just pointing out why they like the Canadian game more. Its a subjective preference. I think many of us just feel as if one game is more appealing without knowing exactly why until the reason jumps up at them. For many people, the emphasis on continued play and importance of the kicking game makes Canadian football more appealing. When the opposite is shown in a NFL game, the reasons become more apparent.

The rouge has been discussed to death, we all know what its about and 95% of the time it is no reward for failure.

I agree with you on the Toronto stuff. Other than all things concerning sports, Toronto is an amazing city and out-of-towners that rib it seem to be put off only by their inability to find parking or drive there hassle free.

you can justify it as you wish .....

still ya try for a feild goal and ya miss ... thats a failure i think the CFL game is a good one have followed it as long as i can remember and always hated the rouge especially when a team wins by 1 point ...

How about this one
"When it happens on a punt, there is no "failure" at all on the part of the kicking team for which they are being rewarded. It's a reward for their accomplishment."

uh ya there was a failure .. they couldn't move the ball on the 2 downs before the punt.

ya we couldn't move the ball 10 yards what an acomplishment !!! WOOOOHOOOOO

hey thats me i know people like the rouge and support it and those who don't even care ... i just happen to think you shouldn't be rewarded for failing to convert on the field ....

I agree with all your points, but the competitive sentiment surrounding the rouge has changed over the years.

The MVP of the first Grey Cup game was recognized for having scored 8 singles. That's a record that stands to this day. On the last play of the first half of the 1967 Grey Cup, Joe Zuger quick kicked the ball into the endzone and the Saskatchewan returner was tackled for a point.

Today, you wouldn't see a Grey Cup MVP christened for his ability to score singles. You also wouldn't see a team execute a quick kick as a last ditch effort to pad a lead going into a half.

My point is, as athletes have become more skilled, the value of the rouge has decreased. Where more emphasis on the forward pass and improved kicking strength and technique has made points of larger denominations easier to score, the rouge has lost its lustre.

In the CFL, when a punter is aiming for a coffin kick and misses scoring a rouge, he doesn't pump his fist for having scored. He curses himself for having cost his team 35 yards of field position. The same is true of a missed field goal.

Having said that, the rouge is still not a reward for failure. It still serves its purpose of continuing play and adding excitement.

I still think it shouldn't count unless its returnable.

continuing play ? ....