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The TW

Misfielding a punt

Question

Let me first off state that I feel justice was done on the play I'm about to describe in terms of the rule book.

A short punt lands precariously close to a downfield blocker near the sideline.  The blocker falls down and it is unclear whether the ball has touched him in the process or not.  The kicking team scoops the ball up and looks at the side judge (?) for a ruling.  He hastily walks towards the player, brings his arm slightly up from his waste, but does not blow the whistle.  The recovering team returns the ball from the 25 to the end zone.  As the player is crossing the goal line.  The side judge blows his whistle.  He then turns and throws a bean bag towards the spot of the possible touching by the original receiving team, jogs towards the spot, stop, jogs back towards it, and then caucuses with the official.  The touchdown is waved off as he states the receiving team did not touch the ball.

Is this the correct way this call is to be handled?

 

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5 hours ago, The TW said:

Let me first off state that I feel justice was done on the play I'm about to describe in terms of the rule book.

A short punt lands precariously close to a downfield blocker near the sideline.  The blocker falls down and it is unclear whether the ball has touched him in the process or not.  The kicking team scoops the ball up and looks at the side judge (?) for a ruling.  He hastily walks towards the player, brings his arm slightly up from his waste, but does not blow the whistle.  The recovering team returns the ball from the 25 to the end zone.  As the player is crossing the goal line.  The side judge blows his whistle.  He then turns and throws a bean bag towards the spot of the possible touching by the original receiving team, jogs towards the spot, stop, jogs back towards it, and then caucuses with the official.  The touchdown is waved off as he states the receiving team did not touch the ball.

Is this the correct way this call is to be handled?

 

I can say pretty confidently that this is not the mechanically correct way to handle the play. One of the purposes of officiating mechanics is to communicate, through signals or otherwise, what happened during a play. Obviously, that wasn’t done here. It is also very important for officials to project the image of confidence in their rulings, since that gives them increased legitimacy in the eyes of players, coaches and fans. Officials refer to this as “selling” the call, and it is a very important part of an official’s on-field performance. In other words, you can make the right call, but do it in a way where it leaves serious doubts in the minds of players, coaches and fans whether you actually got it right. That appears to be what happened here. So let’s talk about the correct way to officiate this play.

Regardless of whether the receiving team touches the kick or not, as soon as it is possessed by the kickers, the covering official should blow the whistle and kill the clock. The kickers can never, under any circumstances, advance a kick recovered beyond the neutral zone. The next thing that happens after blowing the whistle and killing the clock is to “point” possession, that is, signal which team now possesses the ball. This will tell everyone whether the team R player touched the kick or not. If he did, and a team K player then recovered it, he’ll point in the direction of the R end zone, signaling that it is now K’s ball. If not, he’ll point the opposite way, indicating that Team R is now in possession. 

Finally, as to the proper use of the bean bag. There are really only two uses of the bag in a scrimmage kick situation. The back judge bags the spot where an R player possesses the ball and begins his return. This spot is known as the “post scrimmage kick” spot, and it can be a penalty enforcement spot under certain circumstances. Hence, the need to mark it. The other proper use of the beanbag during a scrimmage kick is to mark the spot of first touching of the kick by a team K player. If a K player touches the kick beyond the neutral zone, but does not possess it, team R may have the right, once the kick has ended, to take the ball at the spot of first touching. The bean bag is never used to mark the spot where an R player touches a kick. Some officials will use the “tip” signal in that circumstance. It’s a non-standard signal, but I like it because it communicates to everyone that you saw the R player touch the kick.

This is a long-winded way of explaining that, in your play situation, if the R player did not touch the kick, the result was correct, although it was clearly not handled with the correct mechanics.

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Also, if the "downfield blocker" was blocked into the ball,  the touching is ignored.  Would like to see video of this play.   We need more video of plays to help everyone learn.  

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