What Exactly is a Free Kick in the NFL?

By on November 24, 2008 in ,

On Sunday the Arizona Cardinals attempted something that had not been successfully pulled off since 1968 – a free kick field goal. Players, fans, coaches, and even the refs seemed to be confused about the specifics as it was occurring. Although rare, the free kick can be a useful way to parlay a bad punt into three fast points.

A team may attempt a free kick after fielding a ball on a fair catch (even if the clock runs out during the kicking play). The kicker may not use a tee, and the defense must stay back ten yards from the line of scrimmage. Cards kicker Neil Rackers failed in his attempt, and the New York Giants finished the first half with a 17-12 lead (in a game they would ultimately win.

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