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Osgood Punt Block & Illegal Advance of Ball

Linkboy,
I need to correct two of your statements:

1. Not all offensive penalties are marked from the LOS. Many fouls past the line of scrimmage are spot fouls, eg. Clipping, Holding, Block in the Back, etc.
2. Like I said in my earlier post, a blocked punt IS NOT live, if it lands beyond the LOS
  • fryet
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 2,840
Originally posted by linkboy:
Originally posted by psueaz:
Thank you guys for bringing civility back to this discussion. I can also try to help clear up this play

1. A blocked punt can be advanced by the kicking team, but ONLY if the player is behind the line of scrimmage. If the Seahawk player had been ahead of the line of scrimmage--whether the punt was blocked or not--the ball would've been downed at the spot (Technically a downed punt is called "illegal touching", but that's for another thread). So Linkboy is correct that it was not treated like a punt return, but only because the Seahawk touched it behind the LOS.

Please see:
http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/kicksfromscrimmage

See also:
Illegal Bat. It is an illegal bat if: (a) a player of either team bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent's goal line[. . .] Penalty: For illegal batting or punching the ball: Loss of 10 yards. For enforcement, treat as a foul during a backward pass or fumble (see 8-7-7). IRule 8-7-7 states that if a foul is called on a fumble behind the line of scrimmage, the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage before the foul is marked off.

2. Since the Seahawk player was behind the line, the play can be thought of as a fumble, recovered by the offense.
3. So the player on the kicking team can be thought of as a quarterback/punter in this situation. He can try to pass it, run it, kick it, etc... where he can use the the normal rules regarding scrimmage plays. So this situation is as if a quarterback had made an illegal bat on 4th down. The niners could've accepted the penalty and marked off the yardage from the LOS, or declined it, and taken the ball where it came to rest.
4. So no one is arguing the call was made incorrectly. We're all saying that it betrays the "spirit of fairness", when a player can do something ILLEGAL, which ends up benefitting his team.
5. If he had tried to run for the first down (LEGAL), and been tackled the niners would've had the ball at the tackle spot. If he would've tried to pass it (LEGALLY) and it would've been incomplete, the niners would've gotten the ball at original LOS (less any applicable Illegal Forward Pass penalty) spot. But by doing something ILLEGAL, knowing that he had no chance to get the first down, the niners got screwed. That just seems unfair. What if he had Popeye arms, and batted the ball 80 yards?
6. I agree with DarkKnight. Please make this a loss of down.

A loss of down would be a perfect way to fix this issue.

Personally, I think the kicking team should not be able to advance a blocked punt. If they possess the blocked punt, then the ball is down where they possessed it. Any actions that occur after the punt is blocked is a post-possession foul. Receiving team has the option to rekick, or assess yardage from where the ball is possessed..

For now, kicking team players should be instructed to kick a blocked punt as far as they can. And keep on kicking it until it is in their opponent's end zone. Maybe toss in a few forward passes too. It seems that until the receiving team possesses it, the kicking team can commit as many penalties as they wish (maybe even toss in some personal fouls for good measure). The goal is to force the receiving team to accept one of the penalties and give the kicking team the opportunity to punt the ball again.
Originally posted by fryet:
psueaz, thanks for the link, a couple of items for it:

Any punt that is blocked and does not cross the line of scrimmage can be recovered and advanced by either team. However, if offensive team recovers it must make the yardage necessary for its first down to retain possession if punt was on fourth down.

The kicking team may never advance its own kick even though legal recovery is made beyond the line of scrimmage. Possession only.

So it appears I am incorrect about recovery of a blocked punt - it is different from a field goal. The second statement seems a little contradictory. If the punt had advanced beyond the line of scrimmage, then the batting would have been a post possession foul. I think psueaz did a good job summarizing the concerns about the current implementation of the rules.
Hi fryet.
Thank you for the nice words.
The "second statement" you mention mostlly applies to muffed punts (technically scrimmage kicks). We could get into a whole other discussion of free kicks vs. scrimmage kicks. But essentially, if a punt returner muffs a punt, the kicking team cannot advance it; they only get possession. This goes to Linkboy's correct statement, that a punt in and of itself IS NOT a change of possession.
  • fryet
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 2,840
Like I said before, I would prefer if a blocked punt cannot be advanced by the kicking team. However, if the NFL wanted to still give the kicking team the opportunity to advance the ball, they could put one caveat to the rules. If the kicking team commits any infraction behind the first down marker, the ball is possessed by the receiving team at the point of the infraction plus the penalty yards.
I agree fryet. I don't think any punt should be live for the kicking team. This is another NFL rule that punishes good play.

If a player makes a "weak" block, barely getting a fingernail on the ball, and the punt goes 25 yards, the kicking team cannot possess the ball.
But if a player charges hard, creates a good surge, and makes a "strong" block, with the ball going only two yards ahead of the punter, then the kicking team is somehow allowed to advance that ball? Does not make sense

Now, if the punter does not get his foot on it, then that's a different story.
  • fryet
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 2,840
Originally posted by psueaz:
I agree fryet. I don't think any punt should be live for the kicking team. This is another NFL rule that punishes good play.

If a player makes a "weak" block, barely getting a fingernail on the ball, and the punt goes 25 yards, the kicking team cannot possess the ball.
But if a player charges hard, creates a good surge, and makes a "strong" block, with the ball going only two yards ahead of the punter, then the kicking team is somehow allowed to advance that ball? Does not make sense

Now, if the punter does not get his foot on it, then that's a different story.

LOL that would be funny. But yeah, I guess that would be a normal fumble.
Originally posted by socal9er42:
Originally posted by SofaKing:
Officials gave us 2 options:

1. Accept the penalty, and replay 4th down.

2. Decline the penalty, take over where the ball went out of bounds.

This seems like a loophole in the rules IMO. This allowed Seattle to illegally advance the ball 20 yards without being penalized whatsoever. In the end, we basically were penalized 20 yards for their infraction.

I think those were the options the Officials gave Harbaugh........


.

........just don't think that those were the correct options.

A blocked punt is not a live ball, and may only be touched, and advanced by the receiving team, and it is a dead ball if touched by the kicking team. It would seem to me that the second the Seaf*g player touched the ball it was dead, play was over. The forward motion of the touch could be called a dead ball foul and 15 yards awarded to the receiving team, or you could just say dead at the spot of contact. I do believe there is a rule regarding the ball crossing the line of scrimmage in a punt situation, the receiving team touching the ball makes it "live", unless the touch occurs behind the line of scrimmage. Either way, a poor interoperation of the rules.
Whatever it is, it's clear these refs need to be reevaluated. All across the league they are making poor calls. The PI in the pats game, the Crabtree fumble, the Bernard polard hit on Decker. These guys are almost as bad as the replacement refs.
Originally posted by psueaz:
Thank you guys for bringing civility back to this discussion. I can also try to help clear up this play

1. A blocked punt can be advanced by the kicking team, but ONLY if the player is behind the line of scrimmage. If the Seahawk player had been ahead of the line of scrimmage--whether the punt was blocked or not--the ball would've been downed at the spot (Technically a downed punt is called "illegal touching", but that's for another thread). So Linkboy is correct that it was not treated like a punt return, but only because the Seahawk touched it behind the LOS.

Please see:
http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/kicksfromscrimmage

See also:
Illegal Bat. It is an illegal bat if: (a) a player of either team bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent's goal line[. . .] Penalty: For illegal batting or punching the ball: Loss of 10 yards. For enforcement, treat as a foul during a backward pass or fumble (see 8-7-7). IRule 8-7-7 states that if a foul is called on a fumble behind the line of scrimmage, the ball is returned to the line of scrimmage before the foul is marked off.

2. Since the Seahawk player was behind the line, the play can be thought of as a fumble, recovered by the offense.
3. So the player on the kicking team can be thought of as a quarterback/punter in this situation. He can try to pass it, run it, kick it, etc... where he can use the the normal rules regarding scrimmage plays. So this situation is as if a quarterback had made an illegal bat on 4th down. The niners could've accepted the penalty and marked off the yardage from the LOS, or declined it, and taken the ball where it came to rest.
4. So no one is arguing the call was made incorrectly. We're all saying that it betrays the "spirit of fairness", when a player can do something ILLEGAL, which ends up benefitting his team.
5. If he had tried to run for the first down (LEGAL), and been tackled the niners would've had the ball at the tackle spot. If he would've tried to pass it (LEGALLY) and it would've been incomplete, the niners would've gotten the ball at original LOS (less any applicable Illegal Forward Pass penalty) spot. But by doing something ILLEGAL, knowing that he had no chance to get the first down, the niners got screwed. That just seems unfair. What if he had Popeye arms, and batted the ball 80 yards?
6. I agree with DarkKnight. Please make this a loss of down.


Originally posted by GolittaCamper:
A blocked punt is not a live ball, and may only be touched, and advanced by the receiving team, and it is a dead ball if touched by the kicking team. It would seem to me that the second the Seaf*g player touched the ball it was dead, play was over. The forward motion of the touch could be called a dead ball foul and 15 yards awarded to the receiving team, or you could just say dead at the spot of contact. I do believe there is a rule regarding the ball crossing the line of scrimmage in a punt situation, the receiving team touching the ball makes it "live", unless the touch occurs behind the line of scrimmage. Either way, a poor interoperation of the rules.

See the post from psueaz above.

As long as the ball stays behind the line of scrimmage, the kicking team can pick up and advance a blocked punt.

Since no change of possession had occurred (no 49ers picked up the ball and it never crossed the line of scrimmage) and illegal batting isn't a spot foul, the 49ers accepting the penalty would result in the Seahawks getting penalized 10 yards from the line of scrimmage and the play is replayed.

One way to prevent the kicking team from benefiting a situation like this is to make an intentional illegal batting penalty a loss of down like intentional grounding.
[ Edited by linkboy on Dec 9, 2013 at 7:17 AM ]
Yeah, that call had my son and I scratching our heads. But, given the two options Harbaugh had, he chose the right one...you always want the ball. It does seem to penalize the team who gets the ball...methinks they need to change the penalty so the team illegally batting the ball forward loses the down and it's the other team's ball at the spot of contact.
Originally posted by psueaz:

1. A blocked punt can be advanced by the kicking team, but ONLY if the player is behind the line of scrimmage. If the Seahawk player had been ahead of the line of scrimmage--whether the punt was blocked or not--the ball would've been downed at the spot (Technically a downed punt is called "illegal touching", but that's for another thread). So Linkboy is correct that it was not treated like a punt return, but only because the Seahawk touched it behind the LOS.

I've looked at the available videos of the blocked punt as carefully as I could and it looks to me that the Seahawk contacted the ball (and batted it forward) just beyond the LOS. It that case the correct call is illegal touching and the 49ers given possession at the point of contact, about the 17 yd line.

Originally posted by psueaz:
Linkboy,
I need to correct two of your statements:

1. Not all offensive penalties are marked from the LOS. Many fouls past the line of scrimmage are spot fouls, eg. Clipping, Holding, Block in the Back, etc.

It took me 6 pages of reading to get to the this truth.
My guess on why the rule is the way it is would be because the NFL wants plays to continue without the refs having to make a judgement call on "intentional" vs "unintentional" touches of the ball that lead to the ball advancing.

In what is basically a scrum for a free ball, anything can happen. That's part of the excitement of the game. The rule allows for the ball to be batted around (by either team) in an attempt to gain possession and allows for the randomness that is football to occur while possession is attempted.

If that same ball had been batted sideways, backwards or directly toward a Niner who was able to pick it up and advance it for major yards or a TD, no one would be calling for the ball to be dead the minute it was touched by an opposing player.

That is part of the risk of having a live ball, anyone can touch it and anything can happen. In this specific case, it appears obvious that the advancement was deliberate and it "hurt" the recovering team. But a change in the rules would potentially adversely affect teams more because the kicking team could prevent any type of recovery and advancement by simply touching the ball themselves.

It also requires refs to determine what is or isn't "intentional" advancement during a recovery. Far too often, that is impossible to tell as the players are attempting to possess the ball and it gets batted various directions and distance during that attempt.
Note..if we have one of our punts blocked...pick it up and throw it down field
"Which scenario works against the Niners the most? That's the correct call 10 out of 10 times!" ~ Mike Pereira