More Questions . . . . More Answers!

Do fair catches count as a punt return for stat purposes?

No.  Fair catches are a separate statistical category.

How do you treat running into kicker (5-yard penalty) and illegal block on return team?

Since both penalties are on the receiving team, it is the kicking team’s choice.  They can select either penalty, whichever they feel is most beneficial to them.

How do you score Time of Possession (TOP) when punt returner fumbles and offensive team recovers?

Since time-of-possession does not start until the first offensive play following a punt, and since the punt receiving team did not, in this example, actually run a play from scrimmage, the kicking team is credited for all the time-of-possession as if they never gave up the ball.

How would you score net yardage for a 41 yard punt with holding on the offensive team during the return?

No penalty yardage is taken into consideration when calculating the “net” punting yardage.  So, if the punter kicks a 41 yarder and the receiving team returns it 10 yards, normally that would be a net punt of 31 yards.  If, however, a holding penalty (illegal block) occurred 7 yards into the 10 yard return, here’s how you score it.  The return man now only gets credited for a 7 yard return – the additional 3 yards are ignored.  Then, the ten yard penalty for the Hold is marked off from the spot of the foul, which would end up 3 yards behind where the punt was fielded.  But, since penalties are ignored when calculating net punting average, this would result in a net punt of 34 yards (41 minus 7).

Are all defensive penalties on an offensive scoring play assessed on the ensuing kickoff?


If the punt returner fumbles after a 17-yard gain and the fumble is recovered by the kicking team, is any Time of Possession awarded to the receiving (punt return) team?

None of it is.  Time-of-possession does not begin for the team receiving a punt until they actually run an offensive play from scrimmage.

How much net yardage does the punter receive whenever a fair catch interference penalty occurs?

Fair catch interference assumes that the punt returner would have caught the ball at a particular yard line, so, net yardage, in this case, would be equal to the punt distance.  The penalty has no impact.

Can defensive offsides (kicking team) be declined on a kickoff?


How do you score a play when a player recovers a fumble and runs for a touchdown?

Fumble return yardage is not counted as rushing or passing yardage – it is miscellaneous yardage and has no impact on total offense or total defense.  The only exception to this is if the fumbling player recovers his own fumble.  In that case all fumble return yardage would just be an extension of the rushing, receiving or return yardage he is already credited for on that play.

Always keep in mind the “Dave Casper-Marv Hubbard” rule.  On a play from scrimmage, if an offensive player fumbles anywhere on the field during fourth down, only the fumbling player is permitted to recover and/or advance the ball.  Also, if any player fumbles after the two-minute warning in a half, only the fumbling player is permitted to recover and/or advance the ball. If recovered by any other offensive player, the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble unless it is recovered behind the spot of the fumble.  In that case, the ball is dead at the spot of recovery.  Any defensive player may recover and/or advance any fumble at any time.

Would a punter receive zero or -3 net yards on a 40-yard punt with a 43-yard return?

-3 net yards.

Is holding on a punt return enforced at the spot of the foul or where the punt was caught?

From the spot of the foul.  And, keep in mind that the returner only gets credit to a return up to the spot of the foul.  So, if a punt returner had a 50 yard return, but the foul occurred 9 yards downfield, he would only be credited with a 9-yard return.  If the foul happened 9 yards downfield, but the returner only had a 4-yard return, he gets credited for a 4 yard return.

14 thoughts on “More Questions . . . . More Answers!

  1. The kicking team is penalized with “Twisting Face Mask” – Defense – 15 from gain and first down’ during the return, is it correct to award the receiving team a first down by penalty?

  2. Eagles Norm Snead throws inc. pass but Cowboys are flagged for roughing the passer………….does Snead still get an inc. passing attempt?

  3. No. It is a “non-play” and only counted as a 15-yard penalty marked from the line of scrimmage. The same would be true is Snead had been sacked – a non-play, with the penalty assessed from the original line of scrimmage.

    Now, had the pass been completed for any positive yardage, the play would be counted, the passer and receiver would be credited with yardage up to the end of the completion, and the penalty would be marked off from the end of the play.

  4. OK Ray, Meredith throws short to Hayes for 11 with a TH penalty which the roll produces a Unsportsman Like Conduct Defense 15 yards……… that an either/or penalty (11 yard comp or 15 yard penalty) or is it added onto the 11 yard completion? Thanks again for your time and expertise! Art

  5. Art – It is added to the end of the play. And, here’s where it gets a little funky. Let’s say it was 1st & 10 when the pass to Hayes was thrown. On this particular play Dallas gets a first down via the pass (because it went more than ten yards) and ANOTHER first down on the 15 yard penalty! Two on the same play!

    Had the pass been incomplete, or, if the play resulted in a loss of yardage, the penalty would be marked off from the original line of scrimmage. But, if there is a gain on the play, the Unsportsmanlike Contact Penalty is marked from the end of the play.

  6. Ok Ray, I looked and could not find this one already answered…………is a sack counted as a pass attempt by the QB?

  7. Art – A sack is NOT counted as a pass attempt by the quarterback. It is, however, treated as a passing PLAY for the offense, but not a pass attempt. Any yardage lost on sacks is subtracted from the team’s total passing yards to get their “net” passing yardage.

  8. 2 more questions Ray………#1………..wasnt pass interference just a 15 yd penalty with auto first down in the 60’s (1966 to be exact) and # 2……..are half the distance penalties rounded up or down?

  9. 1) Art – The initial penalty for defensive interference was 10 yards from the previous spot and a first down. Walter Camp, one of the pioneers of the game, lobbied the NFL Rules committee several times to modify interference rules. His pleas at the 1916 meeting focused on the proliferation of interference by defenders more than 15 yards beyond the previous spot. Because of the previous spot enforcement, it was more advantageous to the defense to foul rather than allow a completion. But it was not until the next year that Camp finally persuaded the committee to have the ball awarded to the offense at the spot of the foul (which is the current NFL rule). So, it has been this way for over 100 years!!
    2) In my replays, I always round in favor of the team defending the goal line. In the actual NFL, there is no rounding, but, for APBA purposes you need to, but there is no hard-and-fast rule, but I like favoring the defense – it just seems more equitable.

  10. when totaling the plays on a particular drive on my drive chart is the punt counted in the total….? in other words Ray, its 4th and 7, do you say 3 plays 3 yards and a punt or 4 plays 3 yards and a punt….also are plays with a penalty counted in drive totals?

    • Art – A punt is NOT counted as a play on a drive chart, unless it is a fake. In that case it will count as a play from scrimmage. Now, penalties are different. If a penalty wipes out a play, then it does not count as a play from scrimmage. But, if the penalty is tacked on to a play, then the play would be counted. For example, suppose you choose to run and the runningback gains 9 yards and then gets tackled via his facemask. He gets credit for the 9 yard run and the penalty is assessed at the end of that run. So, if you have an offensive play that you would score as either a run or a pass, then you ALWAYS count it. But, if the play is wiped out (an incompleted pass on a defensive pass interference call, for instance), and no attempt, either rushing or passing, is recorded because of the penalty, then you would not record that as a play. It is just a penalty.

      • thats what I thought Ray and the way I have been doing it just wanted to confirm with someone in the know…………muchas gratias!

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