Kick-Off Out of Bounds . . .

Mark Zarb asks:  “Hi Ray!!! Just want to double check on the kick off out of bounds penalty. Latest statisticians guide I saw says “no penalty”, wondering if this was changed recently.”

A.  Mark, you are absolutely correct.  Here is the rule:

“When a kickoff goes out of bounds and the ball is awarded to the receiving team, no penalty or penalty yardage is recorded.  The receiving team may elect to take possession of the ball 25 yards from the spot of the kick or at the out-of-bounds spot.  Record an ‘out-of-bounds kickoff’ for the kicker.”

Kick Return and Penalty Inquiries . . .

Q –  Kickoff is caught 4 yards deep in the end-zone and is returned 28 yards to the 24. However, there is a flag on the play. It is a 10-yard penalty on the return.

The rules say to mark it off 15 yards ahead of where it was caught, so that would be the 11 yard line. “Half the distance to the goal” would put it at the 5 yard line.

How many Kick Return yards does the returner get credit for and why?

A – The returner gets credited for return yardage up to the point of the infraction.  So, in this case it would be a 15 yard return because the penalty occurred at the 11 yard line.  Then, the ball would be put in play at the 5½ yard line (I would use the six yard line in APBA – I always give the marginal benefit to the team with their back to the goal line).


Q – If it’s not a penalty, why does the Ref throw a flag on a kick out of bounds? 

It is a penalty . . . . it is just not a “distance” penalty, so no yardage is actually calculated for penalty purposes.  But the kicking team is assessed one penalty for no yards.

Sacks in the end zone…

Q – Ray, if a quarterback is sacked in his own end zone is the yardage lost from the line of scrimmage to the goal line OR from where he is brought down? For example, QB sacked for 9 yard loss from his own 1 yard line: 1 yard sack OR 9yard sack?

A – If a player is tackled in the end zone, on any play from scrimmage, he is only credited with a loss that would take him to the goal line.  So, in the example above, it would be scored as a one-yard sack.

Another Scoring Question . . .

Q – This one throws me regularly. Completed pass, with a penalty that reads Defense Unsportsmanlike Conduct – 15 yards from line. Should that be enforced AFTER the completion?

A – OK, unless this completion was for zero or negative yardage, the penalty is enforced from the end of the play – where the completion ended up.  If, however, the completion had been for, say, -3 yards on a screen pass attempt, then the penalty would be assessed from the original line of scrimmage.

And, keep in mind, if the original pass resulted in a first down, the offensive team would be credited with a passing first down AND a penalty first down because of the Unsportsmanlike Conduct call!

Scoring Rule – Illegal Tackle

Q –  RP 14:2

Kickoff returner is tackled by someone not on the field – awarded TD – does the entire return yardage get credited to the returner?


A – You can never be awarded a touchdown via penalty.  So, if in the opinion of the officials, the returner would have scored if not for the illegal substitution and subsequent tackle, and he is awarded a touchdown, he is credited with all the return yardage . . . and the player coming off the bench would most likely be disqualified for a flagrant and dangerous action.