Some rule clarifications on no yards and roster size please

I'm not Paolo but I'm perhaps contributing to the confusion by using CFL rulebook vernacular in lieu of the more common colloquial terms used in football across North America.

The CFL rulebook refers to the application of penalties in lost yardage from various places. Some of these include the "point ball touched" or "point ball dead" or "point last scrimmage".

Here is a summary of some terms used to describe various ways of applying penalties and points on the field they can be applied from:

Point ball touched PBT in the case of no yards refers to the point on the field a kicked ball after crossing the line of scrimmage is touched by another player.

Point ball dead PBD simply enough means the point at which the ball becomes dead, either by a tackled player in posession or loose ball out of bounds.. etc.

The 5 yard no yards can be applied from the better of these points for the return team.

"Offside player" means a player from the kicking team who was offside to the kick. In other words, any kick team player who was downfield from the point the ball was kicked at the moment it was kicked.

Anyone onside to the kick including the kicker can recover the kick. No yards does not apply to onside players just the same as on a kickoff.

A kicked ball striking an offside kick team player would be flagged but the ball would remain live until someone got tackled in posession of the ball or the ball went out of bounds or there was a score.

The penalty would then be applied or declined in accordance with whatever was most advantageous to the return team.

So if it bounces off an offside kick team player and then a return team player collects the loose ball and runs 25 yards, the return team will decline the penalty and take the gain.

It doesn't matter that the offside kick team player is <5 yards to a return team player when the offside kick team player is struck by, touches or picks up the kicked ball. The penalty is still "no yards" even if there were no return team players within 20 yards of the offside kick team player.


Thanks for the explanation. Makes more sense now.

I did a double take when I read that any onside player can recover a punt and checked the rules. The rules say “onside in relation to the kicker”. I take it this means that you have to be behind the yard line where the kicker kicks it from to be onside. Is that correct?

Yes.. I have to double check if it's indeed in relation to the kicker or the point at which the ball is kicked specifically but that's the right idea.

It's also where the "onside" kickoff gets its name. Its referring to the fact that all players are onside to the kick on a kickoff and eligible to recover the ball. Every legal kickoff is onside. The onside kick is just a deliberate attempt by the kickoff team to recover the ball.

I can see the general confusion between onside/offside in relation to the kick vs the more common onside/offside we are used to talking about in relation to the line of scrimmage or neutral zone when the ball is snapped.

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Good clip to illustrate the rule. I think it is clear that in order to be onside a player must be behind the kicker when he kicks the ball. In the clip there were three such players. Sure don’t see that very often.


Whatever they do with the rules, I like all the kicking rules just fine and leave them alone please.

You just have to be behind the kick itself no matter what yard line it is.

You can run down field and boot it forward if you see an opening.

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Yes I understood the first part.

As to the second part, can you kick it even if you pass the line of scrimmage? You seem to be saying that you can and that may be the case. The question, if you can do this, is when would you ever want to?

You can kick it even if you're past the line of scrimmage.

You would only attempt it on a set play most likely.

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They should be prepared for a shanked punt as well. We've seen that a couple of times during the season.


It's used on occasion as a last ditch effort to score at the end of a half or game. It's the Hail Mary of Hail Marys.

Typically it involves throwing a hook route to an athletic gym-rat receiver who has a decent foot while the defense is playing in prevent far off the ball.

After the reception, this guy will boot it towards the endzone with a number of speedsters onside in relation to the kick who will try to chase it down for the score.

I believe it was attempted very unsuccessfully once this year (2021). Was it Calgary that attempted it?

The advantages to this play are that in being sort of two-step (pass + kick), you might be able to cover more territory on a desperation play. Also, if the reciever/punter can place that kick in open space, the ball can bounce around live to be picked up and advanced unlike the Hail Mary pass which if dropped is dead.

The disadvantages are that in being two-step, there's more that can go wrong. There is no guarantee that your kicking reciever will have the time and space to execute the kick. If he does get the ball further downfield, the kicking team is likely outnumbered and any loose ball recovery is a 50/50 proposition to begin with.


You can kick the ball at any time on any play in any direction. There is a penalty however if you kick a fumbled ball out of bounds. You can however bat it out of bounds with any other body part than your leg.

If you want 3 points for kicking it through the uprights it must be placed or drop kicked. Drop kick is defined by dropping the ball on the ground and kicking it as it bounces back up. Very difficult to execute with any accuracy so you basically never see it. The only player that I know who has done it in my lifetime was Flutie late in his NFL career on a convert.

Belichick actually smiled, which is even more rare. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, if you were out of field goal range you could throw a pass downfield into field goal range and have the receiver drop kick for 3. The defense would likely have to be in a pure prevent in order for the receiver to be wide open enough to pull it off.

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Rule 5, Section 1, Article 6:

Onside & Offside

An onside player is a member of the kicker’s team who is behind the ball at the instant it is kicked towards the opponent’s Dead Line. An offside player is a member of the kicker’s team who is not onside. An offside player becomes an onside player when the ball, after being kicked towards the opponent’s Dead Line, touches or is touched by an opponent, the kicker or another onside player.


I don't believe this is illegal in Canadian football. It would be disadvantageous to the kicking team however as any kick out of bounds results in posession awarded to the opponent and a fresh set of downs.

I just had a run through of rule 5 which describes all aspects of kicking and there is no mention of it being illegal to dribble a loose ball out of bounds.

I can recall several instances in the CFL when a team has kicked a loose ball out of the back of their own end zone to prevent the opponent from scoring a touchdown. This resulted in a safety. There were no flags.

On one occasion I saw the same in an NFL game resulting in a safety. This was flagged as an illegal kick the result of which (being a foul in the end zone in American football) was still a safety.

I know it's illegal to interfere with an opponent attempting to recover a loose ball. That is, you can attempt to recover it yourself, kick it if you want even.. so long as you aren't impeding or restraining an opponent attempting to do the same.


Right on again as usual - as comes up in situations associated with a fumble or an otherwise loose ball, kicking the ball in any direction certainly is okay but intentionally batting the ball (using any part of your upper body) forward is not as far as I remember in either Canadian or American rules and results in a penalty.

Furthermore for sake of comparisons, in the NFL there is also a special rule that applies to the last 2 minutes of either half or on any fourth down, inspired by the infamous play of Dave Casper of the Oakland Raiders known also as the Holy Roller, such that however a loose ball is recovered by any party other than the last player with possession in such time or case regardless of intent, the ball is dead at either the spot before it became loose or where recovered behind such spot, whichever is worse.

Such a play as happened in 1978 cannot happen again to the advantage of an offence. As follows is the description of what had happened, and since 1979 this is the new rule in the NFL:

In response to the Holy Roller, the league passed new rules in the off-season, restricting fumble advances by the offense. If a player fumbles after the two-minute warning in a half/overtime, or on fourth down at any time during the game, only the fumbling player can recover and advance the ball. If that player's teammate recovers the ball during those situations, it is placed back at the spot of the fumble, unless it was a recovery for a loss, in which case the ball is dead and placed at the point of recovery.[6][11]

Description and video of infamous Holy Roller:

With 10 seconds left in the game, the Raiders had possession of the ball at the Chargers' 14-yard line, trailing 20–14. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler took the snap and found himself about to be sacked by Chargers linebacker Woodrow Lowe on the 24-yard line. The ball came out of Stabler's hands and moved forward towards the Chargers' goal line. Raiders running back Pete Banaszak appeared to try to recover the ball on the 12-yard line, but did not keep his footing, and pitched the ball with both hands even closer to the end zone. Raiders tight end Dave Casper was the next player to reach the ball but he also seemingly could not get a handle on it. He batted and kicked the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out. With the ensuing extra point by placekicker Errol Mann, the Raiders won 21–20.

According to the NFL rulebook [through 1978], "If a runner intentionally fumbles forward, it is a forward pass."[3][4] Also during the play, the game officials ruled that Banaszak and Casper's actions were legal because it was impossible to determine if they intentionally batted the ball forward, which would have been ruled a penalty. The National Football League (NFL) also supported referee Jerry Markbreit's call that Stabler fumbled the ball instead of throwing it forward.


Great explanation.

I vaguely remember seeing something like this once or twice and figured it must only potentially happen in a desperate situation as otherwise the team that kicks would probably already have a first down, which would make it pointless to kick it away. Sandlot football at its finest!

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One rule I strongly object to is being credited for “recovering” a fumble even if you don’t recover it but the loose ball bounces off some part of your body out of bounds. The “ass recovery” I call it. Hamilton “recovered” a fumble in this fashion in the Grey Cup, although it didn’t bounce off their players ass, although it just as easily could have. In the NFL the famous ass play by Sanchez of the Jets is ridiculed and endlessly shown on NFL blooper reels.


I have to double check but I believe that in Canadian football, intentional fumbling isn't explicitly covered by the rules. It is possible for a fumble to be recovered and advanced by anyone from the fumbling team.

Rather, any such percieved intentional directing of the ball forward would be interpreted as a forward pass.

If it came from beyond the line of scrimmage or was attempted more than once from behind the line of scrimmage it would then be interpreted as an illegal forward pass and sanctioned as such.

If it happened legally behind the line of scrimmage and wasn't caught as a forward pass, it would simply be an incomplete pass.

Perhaps Canadian football needs it's own explicit prohibition of the "knock-on".

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Ya agreed.

I do find this rule to be inconsistent with the definition of posession and the sort of precedent of who gains posession if you were to let's say kick the ball out.

So posession is more or less defined as positive grasp or control of the ball. And kicking the ball out results in the other team assuming posession and a 1st and 10.

But batting the ball out or having it deflect of your ass as you said gets your team posession. It just doesn't jive.

Even in soccer, you knock the ball out, last touch, the other team puts it back into play.. simple.

I'd say the NFL is similarly inconsistent with its 2 feet in bounds for a catch rule. That's even inconsistent with all amateur levels of American football.

So a catch requires firm grasp of the ball and any body part to first contact the ground in bounds unless it's your feet, then magically you need another foot to make it a catch in the NFL.

Catch the ball and fall on my backside in bounds before sliding out? Catch. My feet could even be in the air and I could stand up after the fact with BOTH feet out. No no.. that butt slide was a catch.

Catch the ball and drag a toe in bounds before the other foot steps out? Incomplete.

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Decades ago the referees in Canada were very careful to always place the ball back at the point of the fumble if it was recovered further downfield. The ball could not advance. But in more recent years I often see them place it at the location of the recovery even if that advances the ball. I have only seen one case in the last 15 years where the ball went back to where the fumbler was. And I watch every snap of every CFL game. And keep the recordings of the better games to peruse again.

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