Cowboys passed on a chance for a fair catch free kick

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One of the NFL’s most obscure rules could have given the Cowboys a shot at three points at the end of the first half today in Dallas, but the Cowboys may not have known about it.

The NFL has a little-known rule called the fair catch free kick which allows a team to fair catch a punt and then line up to kick the ball on the next play, without the defense able to rush and block the kick. If the ball goes through the uprights, it’s three points, just like a field goal.

The first half ended with Cole Beasley fair catching a punt at his own 37-yard line. That would have allowed Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey to come out and attempt a kick from the 37, which would translate to a 73-yard field goal.

That might sound like an impossible field goal, given that the NFL record is 64 yards. But on a fair catch free kick, the opposing team isn’t able to attempt to block the kick. So a kicker can kick the ball on a lower trajectory, which allows the ball to travel farther.

It’s not at all uncommon for kickoffs to go through the uprights in the NFL, and kickoffs are from the 35-yard line. With two extra yards, from the 37-yard line, Bailey might have been able to make it. The Cowboys should have tried it.

So why didn’t they? Coach Jason Garrett and his staff might have been worried that the kick would come up short and the Packers would return it for a touchdown. But it’s probably just that the Cowboys didn’t think of it. It’s such an obscure rule that even NFL coaches don’t know it.

65 responses to “Cowboys passed on a chance for a fair catch free kick

  1. It’s such an obscure rule that even NFL coaches don’t know it.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Bet’cha Bill Belichick knows about it.

  2. Belichick gave up his “smart” status same the day he sent Donald the love letter. He’s smart like a horse’s butt.

  3. omegalh says:
    Jan 15, 2017 6:29 PM
    More chance of a return against than a fg for
    —————————–
    No. They can in theory return it if it doesn’t go out of bounds – BUT it will have a lower trajectory and thus greater horizontal speed component and thus be both harder to catch and more likely to have the momentum to continue out of bounds than a normal kick which has a higher trajectory. So overall there won’t be more chance of return. Indeed, of the 29 attempts in the history of NFL, there have been 6 successes, 23 misses and no returns.

  4. There was no time left and the half was over once he secured the catch. The attempted field goal is not allowed in this situation because it is not an untimed down.

  5. I bet Florio knows about it, he knows everything.
    When can we expect his 10 page story on this mistake?

  6. Say what you will about Jeff Fisher, he knows this rule. Tried it a couple times with the Titans.

  7. R2Mog says:
    Jan 15, 2017 6:49 PM

    There was no time left and the half was over once he secured the catch. The attempted field goal is not allowed in this situation because it is not an untimed down.

    ———-
    NFL Rulebook, Rule 10, Section 2, Article 5-a: “If the player makes a fair catch, the receiving team may elect to extend the period with a fair-catch kick, but does not have the option to extend the period by a snap from scrimmage.”

    Dallas could have extended the period, but they would have to do so with a fair-catch kick, unless GB interfered with opportunity to fair catch (in which case not only is there a 15-yard penalty, the period can be extended either with a snap or a fair-catch kick).

  8. And worry about a missed field goal returned for a TD is overblown. Usually, a field goal team is nine fat guys, a holder and a kicker. Since you don’t need blockers, you can line up your kick return team,

  9. joshgordonsbong says:
    Jan 15, 2017 6:54 PM
    Lmao at anyone who thought boys wouldn’t be one and done…I’m a Giants fan and if we can beat you twice no way in hell youre makig moves..

    umm it’s tied now

  10. Dallas was on the 40 and spiked the ball. Leaving them 2 plays to go 10 yards. They just left Aaron 3 TO and :35. Haha. Dallas is 1 and done w 35 seconds left in the game. Terrible series at the end.

  11. Simply the best. Aaron – Jared – 3 for Crosby over 50 in the last couple minutes. Atlanta here we come….great game Cowboy fans. Rodgers is the difference right now with 8 in a row and 4 more quarters to play. Should be another great one next Sunday. GO PACK!!

  12. codythao35 says:
    Jan 15, 2017 7:31 PM
    And the Packers choke again
    ==================================

    Codythao35 also probably thought that Dewey defeated Truman.

  13. leatherface2012 says:
    Jan 15, 2017 7:27 PM
    joshgordonsbong says:
    Jan 15, 2017 6:54 PM
    Lmao at anyone who thought boys wouldn’t be one and done…I’m a Giants fan and if we can beat you twice no way in hell youre makig moves..

    umm it’s tied now
    ————————
    Umm, now it’s not. R.I.P big D

  14. Silence, purples. Follow your leader into his month-long exile. You won’t be missed.

    Dallas fans… wow, what a game. Officiating wasn’t the best, but it also wasn’t the worst. I truly thought Dak and Zeke would choke a bit in their first playoff game but they flat-out proved me wrong. I’m just glad the Pack escaped with the win.

  15. bigdaddyrockytop says:
    Jan 15, 2017 8:08 PM

    Cody always nails it with his posts. The last one was no different. Cue Leather rolling in crying about the officiating.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

    Leather is GONE until Valentine’s Day. If he shows up before then, he’s a welcher. We made a wager on today’s game and as usual, he lost.

  16. Packers should never have punted the ball. Just taking a knee would have ended the half. I think all NFL coaches know about the free kick rule …. except maybe Chip Kelly.

  17. For those who worry about such an attempt falling short and being returned: It’s a free kick. There’s no defense on the field. If the kick falls short, that’s it… no good. There is no possibility of a return. I might argue that long before Belichick, Raider fans were made aware of this by John Madden (those of us who are old enough to remember).

  18. In typical Garrett fashion he was once again out coached today. There should be a rule that the Cowboys not be allowed to participate in a bye week again.

  19. Why wasn’t every GB receiver, on the Cook play, not tackled at the line of scrimmage or as soon as possible? About 5 seconds off the clock for 5 yd penalty is a GREAT trade. Down meant nothing. OK, so it’s now at the GB 37. Highly unlikely HM, with time for just one play.

    The last thing you can allow is a long completion or long PI – either for a kick or bomb. I blame the Dallas coaches. They deserve to not have an OT chance for allowing a receiver anywhere to catch a pass.

    Dallas coaches knew the free kick rule? I dunno, or maybe they thought it was too far. I knew the free kick rule. If you can kick it through the uprights on a kickoff, you can do it from the 37. That was a head-scratcher at the end of the half.

    Belichick knows the rule. There are few like him – ask Harbaugh.

  20. mzew233 says:
    Jan 15, 2017 8:18 PM

    What a dumb idea. Take a 73 yard field goal attempt in a tight game.
    NO
    _______________
    Considering the situation, your post is the dumbest possible that could be made on this topic.

    That said, I would wager that you have convinced yourself that it was an astute and intelligent observation. Considering how dumb you are, convincing you of anything is probably not that hard. Oh well, at least you’re happy in your state of bliss.

  21. The last successful FAIR CATCH KICK was Nov 21, 1976. It was from 45 yards. Yeah, it’s so obscure the rule is in high school football. It came from rugby.

    73 yard attempt is insane and is evident how people love to criticize real coaches.

  22. There was no time left and the half was over once he secured the catch. The attempted field goal is not allowed in this situation because it is not an untimed down.

    ———————————————

    BS–That would be the same as saying a team can’t kick an extra point if they score a touchdown when time expires!

  23. Kickoffs are also off a T which is 2 inches off the ground no way he kicks a 74 yd fg of the ground unless he’s in Denver….

  24. I am watching the situation on my DVR right now and I think that he would have had a good shot at making it if he could have tried. Kickoffs are from the 35 yard line and they are routinely kicked through the end zone from that distance. Plus, it being off a tee rather than a holder means the kicker has TOTAL control over the placement of the ball.

    Since Dallas lost by 3 POINTS, it may have made a difference in the end.

  25. bannedfromchoirpractice says:
    Jan 15, 2017 6:40 PM

    Belichick gave up his “smart” status same the day he sent Donald the love letter. He’s smart like a horse’s butt.

    —-

    True dat, but I’ll take BB for the win – I can offset his vote anytime!

  26. I know for a fact Jim Harbaugh knew about this obscure rule when he was 49ers’ coach and actually attempted once in 2013 against the Rams. There’s a video at NFL dot com. You can look it up

    Of course, Belichick knows it too!

  27. Boston ‘common’s comment, at the top of the page, is, word for word, exactly what I intended to write here. Upon reflection, that might well be true of another 1,200 readers. This kind of makes it obvious why so many people REALLY hate Bill; he’s not THEIR Head Coach.

  28. Tajuara: No, Tom Brady cannot “walk on water.” He’s not the Son of God, but he would’ve made a pretty good Simon Fisherman. Certainly, Coach Bill hath founded HIS Church on the Rock of Brady.

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