Touchbacks galore on the first night of the new kickoff rule

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With the kickoff point moving from the 30 back to the 35, the NFL hopes to reduce injuries during kickoff returns by reducing the raw number of kickoff returns.

And while it’s too early to make a reliable comparison to pre-2011 stats, the ball seems to be flying deep into the end zone, and beyond.

In the Ravens-Eagles game, five kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.  In the Jaguars-Pats game, there were two touchbacks (even though 59 points were scored).  The Broncos-Cowboys game has featured five touchbacks as of this posting.  In Seahawks-Chargers, there has been two touchbacks as of this posting.

But perhaps the most glaring example of the new rule came on the first play of the Cardinals-Raiders game, when kicker Sebastian Janikowski boomed the ball out of the end zone — and possibly through the uprights.

Over time, the rule undoubtedly will result in more touchbacks.  In turn, that will result in fewer points.  And so this rule will have been one of the few changes over the years that will, over time, reduce scoring.

65 responses to “Touchbacks galore on the first night of the new kickoff rule

  1. You don’t need to compare the touchback numbers to 2010, this rule “change” is really just reverting to the old kick off point. Years of data exists and its not like its pre soccer style kicker or anything.

  2. What a stupid rule. Why not go all the way and eliminate tackling on kick offs?

    What’s the point of a kick off now? Tradition?

    If this is the decision, then ELIMINATE kickoffs, and play it from the 20 yard line. It’s a mockery.

  3. More touchbacks = fewer points?

    It helps the kicking offense exactly as much as it hurts the receiving offense. There should be virtually no change to the amount of points scored per game.

  4. Color me confused but have injuries during kickoffs been a huge problem?

    I was under the impression that the league liked increased scoring.

    Seems like a backwards rule…….

  5. This hurts, what I think, is the most fun part of the game. Having those moments of a guy break through tackles in the open field. The announcers screaming, ‘only the kicker left’. Than hopefully the steam roll over the kicker for the 6. This undoubtedly hurts the game…

  6. Thank you NFL for eliminating the most explosive play in football.
    You talk about games being too long ,just put the ball down on the 20 and get on with it.
    At least throw us a bone, how about one point for a kickoff thru the uprights.
    Oh wait, that wouldn’t be purist thinking!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Were there really THAT many injuries on kickoffs that it had to be moved up to the 35? Why do they even wear helmets & pads anymore?!? Touchbacks deflate the excitement from start of a game/2nd half. Goddell godda go

  8. Let’s just take as much excitement as we can from the game. There are some pretty dynamic kick returners in the NFL that won’t be able to showcase their talent now…pretty f’ing sad.

    But let’s pay them more, why not? Can’t have anybody hurt in this violent game they call football.

    While we’re at it, let’s not keep score anymore either, like they do for the kiddies nowadays…where everyone’s a winner and there are no losers.

    And the pussification of America continues…

  9. This rule right here is just plain stupid… The kickoff return is one of the exciting plays of a game… To move the kick off up 5 yards makes the game even more boring…Some players make their living returning kicks…..NFL new rules suck…Goodell your a loser

  10. You don’t reduce injuries on kickoffs in play, the players impact at a higher speed because they will be making contact sooner.

    The NFL didn’t think this through at all.

  11. I understand the desire to limit injuries, but when your attempt to limit injuries begins to change the game, you start treading in murky waters.

  12. Kickoffs arent accomplishing anything this year. So boring to watch a kicker just boot it out of the endzone and have players run down the field for no reason. I saw returners who are TRYING TO MAKE A TEAM based on their return ability shaking their heads as the ball soars over their heads and out of play.

  13. Why don’t they totally eliminate football in football, that will drive the number of injuries way down, oh wait, that’s what they are slowly doing.

  14. With the kickoff point moving from the 30 back to the 35..
    ————————————————————

    That’s moving it forward, not back.

    But it’s no surprise that the guy who wrote that is the same one who falsely accused Aaron Rodgers avoiding an autograph seeker last season.

    Hack writing at it’s worst.

  15. “the rule undoubtedly will result in more touchbacks. In turn, that will result in fewer points”

    Is that the same logic that made you come to a similar conclusion once the forceout rule was abolished (as you may remember, scoring went up after forceout was abolished)?

    Ah, my bad. Just polemic yada yada.

  16. For a team like the Steelers that are known to have not so good special teams this is a welcomed sight .

  17. Let’s just do it right and omit this sham of a kickoff by simply placing the ball at the 20 yard line for play after an opponent score like they do in pee wee. LMAO

  18. didnt matter, Chargers return man scored a TD, and Dallas’ nearly broke off a large return…they’ll just start from 1, and the return alleys are already committed, the returner simply changes direction. Nice rule

  19. This is the purest example of a committee trying to justify it’s existance by changing things that don’t need to be changed. I understand the point of moving the players back to the no more than 5 yard behind the ball so that there is no 15 yard headstart before the kick. But moving the kick to the will reduce scoring, decrease field position, decrease scoring and take out one of the most exiting parts of the game.

    Sometimes, if your team’s offense is terrible, special teams gives your team a chance to score even with an inept offense which gives the fans something. Now that is gone, too.

    Way to go, competition committe & Roger Goodell, you have gone out of your way to ruin football as we know it and love it.

    p.s., I also hate the old rule moving the missed fieldgoal back to the spot of the kick and not the line of scrimage. They said it would increase scoring, that more people would go for it instead of kicking it. The only thing that rule did was increase punting. Coaches, rather than risk losing 7 yards of field position would elect to punt rather than take a chance on a 50+ yard field goal. This rule needs to be repealed as well as the kickoff rule.

  20. I still say they should have added a minor rule you can’t kick the ball out of the back of the endzone on the fly. That would be the same penalty kicking it out-of-bounds.

    Make some skill involved with kicking the ball to exactly in the endzone. Now it’s just kick it as hard as you can, which is silly.

    The return team should, by rule, have the ability to return the kick (even if that means 9 yards into their endzone). Anywhere else should be a penalty.

  21. it’s a contact game, there’s going to be injuries, this is a dumb rule change, might as well do away with kickoffs all together and have teams start at the twenty …..way to go NFL, back to the NO FUN LEAGUE

  22. NFL = No Fun League… way to take out an exciting part of the game… WE the fans love watching that big kick off return during key moments of a game…

    Thanks NFL…

  23. Jason Sehorn was the last guy I remember getting injured on kickoffs. Majority of injuries don’t happen on kickoffs – so why target it?? If it ain’t broke..

  24. “But perhaps the most glaring example of the new rule came on the first play of the Cardinals-Raiders game, when kicker Sebastian Janikowski boomed the ball out of the end zone — and possibly through the uprights.”

    The Eagles Rookie Kicker Alex Henery did that at training camp Friday from the 35. Everyone went nuts until I told them that it only happened bc they changed the rules and moved the ball up 5 yards, but it still was pretty impressive. Whats it 75 yards from the 35 to the bottom of the upright? Add the height of the Uprights and that’s like 80 yards. That’s a hell of a kick. Akers probably wouldnt have hit the goal line.

  25. Gotta love all the know it all fans on this site blaming everything on Goodell. He had and has nothing to do with rule changes, thats called the competition committee. Get a clue and learn the game owners make rule and policy changes based on recomendations from the on a coaches another committee.

  26. There are players injured on kickoffs semi-regularly (last year one of the Lions LBs seemed to have suffered a career-ender), but it’s still a stupid rule.

    One of the most exciting plays in football has been nerfed. There’s no more exciting play in football than a kick return for a touchdown.

    It’s a contact sport. Injuries are going to happen. These guys know what they’re signing up for. They’re compensated for the risk. No one forces anyone to play pro football. Enough with the pansy rules!

  27. I’d like a kick off rule where if you kick it through the end zone on the fly the ball goes to the 30.

    Catch it on the fly in the endzone and its the 20.

    Once the ball hits the ground ANYWHERE, it has to be returned.

    I’m not sure if that gets there, but I think the rules should be set up to encourage the perfect kick off to be one that comes down at the 1 yard line.

    Have it so that we dont have the waste of time of a kicker just blasting it through the end zone.

    As the kicker tries to keep it in play we will still have plenty of times where there is no return as he will reach the end zone. But we will have more exciting plays also. A team can try to pin the offense inside the 10, instead of just doing the equivalent of an intentional walk and kicking the unreturnable ball.
    Sticking the ball at the 30 would motivate them to do this.

  28. Wow. For a site that is so hardcore about football, there sure are a lot of users on here who know absolutely nothing about the game. I guess football was a girly game prior to 1994, when they moved kickoffs back to the 30? Stop overreacting about something that will have a minimal impact on the game.

    Did you NOT read the part about how the Patriots-Jaguars game only had 2 touchbacks, despite there being 14 kickoffs? Or do you just selectively pick and choose what you read?

    It’s 5 yards. Guys like Ryan Longwell still won’t be able to get touchbacks, and for guys like Janikowski, balls that were being downed 5 yards deep into the end zone, will now be kicked through the end zone.

    For the guys who make their living returning kicks: start returning them even if they are 6-7 yards deep in the end zone. Grow a pair and try to go 108 to the house.

  29. This is truly ridiculous though. If kickoffs are such a worry about the players health then it’s not really even fair to have a kickoff at all. So, if my teams kicker has a stronger leg, then my team (and the receiving team) deserve to be “healthier”? While the teams with weak kickers deserve to get injured?

    They shouldn’t have changed it because it was something that made the game as exciting as it is(was). If they truly wanted to make the game completely ‘safe’ then why not eliminate kickoffs since they’re so dangerous?

  30. If the kickoff returner lets the ball go through
    the endzone untouched, put it at the 30 yd line.
    The kickers will kick it a bit shorter to avoid placement at the 30. If they don’t, the offense
    is 10 yds closer to the endzone.

    There is going to be some contact even if the
    kicks are touchbacks.

  31. It’s bad enough defenders are now required to cuddle QBs to the ground all because Brady got hurt that one year.

    If they want less injuries and more scoring why not just eliminate kickoffs and start at the other team’s 25 so it can be as much of a joke as College OT.

  32. I personally think this rule sucks. Kick-offs were an important part of the game.

    It was fun watching teams try to kick the ball away from the most feared kickoff return men in the league. It was even more exciting watching those return men find a seam and explode 80 yards for a score.

    I know that Kevin Everett and many more players have been hurt during kick-offs, but thats part of the game. Thats why they make millions of dollars, the game is all risk.

    Besides, I think punt returners are at much more risk for serious injury. They stand there blind, trying to catch the ball while a stampede is headed in their direction.

  33. This may only be remembered by Bills fans…

    Brad Daluiso. He was a former Kicker brought in to just do kick-offs. The guy constantly put those kick-offs through the uprights. Basically 80 yard field goals off a tee. A true bad-a-s Kicker!

    Go Bills!!!!

  34. They “they used to kick the ball from here” defense holds no water.

    You really dont think kickers are kicking it further now then they did back then?

    And if you want to use that as a defense of the new rule, maybe you sould address why it was changed then.

    If its so unsafe for kick-offs, its better for the players to allow the kickers to kick it out of bounds and not just out of the end zone.

  35. Heres an interesting idea. How about kicking the ball to about the 1 yard line? If a ST coach feels his unit is superior in coverage than the return unit, why not have a long hang-time kick that must be returned. I don’t mind the rule as much as wonder how teams will adapt.

  36. Nobody wants to see injuries, but this really is going to change the game. Suddenly, poor kick coverage and great kick returns have become non-issues provided there are strong kickers in the game.

    The other thing I expect to see is that teams with weaker kickers will start signing guys to boom kickoffs. Because otherwise they’ll be at a significant disadvantage to teams that can count on getting a touchback every kick.

  37. BTW that return by the Chargers doesn’t mean anything. It was kicked by a kicker who was cut 2 years ago because he couldn’t land a kickoff inside the ten yardline… now he can, barely. He’ll be cut again.

    Touchbacks are lame!

  38. only people complaining about this rule’s change are the fat madden fanboys that never stepped foot on a field before.

  39. Here’s hoping DeSean still returns every other or every third one. MAYBE we have something to look forward to in between the 687 commercials that will be running before, after, and possibly during kickoffs.

  40. I watched the Raider game, and YES he did boot it through the uprights to start the game! It was pretty beautiful. Then he kicked another later on from 58 yards out.

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