Teams can use onside kick alternative whether trailing, leading or tied

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If the NFL’s owners vote this week to pass the proposed “fourth-and-15” alternative to the onside kick, teams will be able to use it whether they’re leading, trailing or tied.

There was some confusion about the proposed rule because an NFL summary said it would “allow a team who is trailing in the game” to come from behind. But that summary was only designed to capture the impetus behind the proposal, which was to help teams come from behind. The proposal itself never said teams had to be trailing to use it.

Because the alternative can be used by leading teams, and because the clock runs on the “fourth-and-15” play, some teams might use it purely for clock management purposes. A team that scores a go-ahead field goal or touchdown with only a few seconds on the clock might decide to try the alternative to the onside kick simply to run around for a few seconds until the game is over, rather than kick off and risk a kickoff return touchdown.

The alternative to the onside kick is limited to twice per game, and teams have to inform the referee they’re doing it in time for the referee to inform the opposing team. Otherwise, there are no restrictions.

68 responses to “Teams can use onside kick alternative whether trailing, leading or tied

  1. They are branding this thing wrong. “4th and 15” sounds stupid and doesn’t make sense. I propose that it be called “make it take it”.

  2. Wouldn’t that basically be the same as a squib kick? Only difference is when the clock would start (at the snap), and the clock should stop as soon as the play ends because of change of possession.

  3. ….And midway in the second quarter it is Kansas City 21, Chargers 0, and when we come back the Chargers will finally get a chance to go on offense…

  4. Why take away a potentially incredible and exciting play?! Would you really put a rule in for other sports that take away long shot odds to score? Imagine rules that would not allow walk off homeruns, buzzer beater, half court+ shots or any other thrilling end of game play. What about a boxer who is getting worked and losing on all cards but is still standing and fighting, should the last round be forfeited? Absolutely not, it is called a puncher’s chance. Play the game to the last second and stop adding BS rules that aren’t needed.

  5. onereasonableman says:

    May 24, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Wouldn’t that basically be the same as a squib kick? Only difference is when the clock would start (at the snap), and the clock should stop as soon as the play ends because of change of possession.
    ————-
    No because a squib kick or any kickoff the clock doesnt start until the ball is touched by the receiving team, in this scenario a team can hike it and run around behind the line of scrimmage and then just throw it high and out of bounds to waste remaining time with the defense(normally the receiving team) not ever having to touch the ball and very little recourse to stop it.

  6. Trying a 4th and 15 from your own 25 is really risky. I can definitely see team using this to close out game after taking the lead late in the 4th with seconds left or getting a second change after pulling within 8 points etc. Failing can be catastrophic but then again it seems like a desperation type call to begin with. Im all over the place on this one, i guess I dont really know how I feel about it, my brain tells me don’t let Bill Belichick have this available to him ever.

  7. Just shorten the distance the kick has to travel to be legally recovered – say 5 yards instead of 10. Or 7 yards; whatever floats your boat. But none of this 4th and 15 stuff.
    Let’s keep the foot in football.

  8. The insanity of never-ending NFL rule changes is reaching even greater heights!

  9. Why not just pass a rule that says “If a team scores with under 15 seconds left in regulation but still trails, they get the ball back for one last hail mary attempt.”?

  10. In this situation, a defensive penalty should not result in an automatic first down.

  11. All in the name of safety. Call me crazy, but it seems like more players will get hurt on an all or nothing 4th and 15 play than on a traditional onside kick.

  12. Heck… you could run off 10-12 seconds easy. Just tell every offensive player to hold / wrestle or trip their guy to the ground and keep them there. The QB will have several extra seconds to wait until he finally hurls the ball as far and as high downfield and 5+ yards out of bounds. Who cares about offensive penalties as long as the clock hits 0?

  13. Running clock after you take the lead…

    Whos brilliant idea was this. Basically taking the last 40 seconds out of the game without taking a snap. Not good, this is the most exciting part of the game.

  14. The alternative to the onside kick is limited to twice per game,
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I don’t like the proposal but that particular aspect is just ridiculous. Imagine driving late in the game down 2 points and on the 25 with 4th down. Oh No! We used up our FG quota earlier. That is the same concept as limiting the 4th and 15 play to twice.

    This is one of the major problems with NFL decision makers. They see one potential problem and account for that without ever looking at the brand new problems their myopic decisions are creating. There was absolutely no reason to modify the kickoffs at all. “Safety” was just a buzzword put out front to reduce pushback.

  15. I thought REDUCING INJURIES was the impetus for some of these rule changes related to kick offs.
    How does 4th and 15 alter the chance of injuries ??? It doesn’t.
    This sounds like making changes for the sake of making changes. It makes no sense.
    Not to mention,… it’s one more play that officiating crews can screw up by calling a faux penalty that gives one team an unfair advantage. More fan outrage.
    Don’t Do It !!! Keep the onside kick just the way it was meant. Not this proposal nor the stupid onside kick in place. Go back to what it was a couple years ago.

  16. Make onside kicks 7 yards to add some excitement if you want but don’t have games turn on a ref’s whistle. And what is the impetus coming from the 15 yard change? No fan anywhere has clamored for this change. Someone on the NFL Rules Committee has too much time on his hands.

  17. praetorianspqr says:
    May 24, 2020 at 10:15 am
    In this situation, a defensive penalty should not result in an automatic first down.
    ———–
    Then defenses would just commit a penalty on every try if they knew that pass interference or holding would just give them a 10 yard penalty.

  18. Another dumb rule. There is nothing wrong with football. If it ain’t broke, don’t mess it up. Creating change for change’s sake is simply stupid. Hey why not introduce a 2nd football, make the field goal posts higher, change to meters instead of yards.

  19. No matter what form this rule takes (if it passes), this much is certain: it’s going to fundamentally alter an important game (likely a conference championship game) to the point where the media, as well as fans on the wrong side of it, is going to use it as a controversial scapegoat as to why it was passed in the first place.

  20. cueghost says:
    May 24, 2020 at 7:40 am
    They are branding this thing wrong. “4th and 15” sounds stupid and doesn’t make sense. I propose that it be called “make it take it”.

    ——
    I like the “make it take it” name, but I would do it on the extra point attempt. Put the ball on the forty yard line and if you convert (57 yard kick or hail-mary), then you get the ball back at your own twenty.

  21. The first two long drives you score on, immidiately go for 2 and then tell the refs you are doing this 4-15… thingy. Keep the defense tired. Teams that priorities the passing game just got another advantage. Teams that priorities defense or the running game just got screwed. Congrats KC, sorry SF. Oh, and if you want to beat the NFL’s flavor of the month team you had better be leading by more than 3 scores late in the 4th or the refs can do some damage.

  22. I remember 20 years ago in the Colts – Saints Superbowl when Sean Payton started the second half with an on sides kick and the Saints went on to beat my favored Colts. Guess that was too much excitement 🙂

  23. Before they snap the ball make everyone do the Hokey Pokey. Because that’s what it’s all about.

  24. I can’t wait to see Kirk throw a 3 yard checkdown when the Vikings to need one of these.

  25. How about a rule where, if a team is down 3 scores in the final 4 minutes, and there is an even number of seconds on the clock, on an odd numbered day, then they trigger “multiball” and 2x scoring bonus? But if the defense can roll snake eyes with a pair of oversized novelty dice (so everyone can see it is fair), then the QB has to hop on one foot for the duration of the play. QB can choose which foot though (to make it fair)

  26. The brutal reality is that onside kick failure is currently as automatic as the extra point was prior to the extra point rule change.

    Football is and should be about competition, not predetermined outcomes. Bring on the 4th and 15! It can’t get here fast enough-

    I now politely turn the forum back over to Get Off My Lawn Guy-

    Thank you,

  27. The new rule is definitely not as dangerous as an onsides kick. An onsides kick is a lot like a fumble recovery,and can result in injuries. The new rule will be like a normal 4th and 15 play.

    Having said that, I hope that they don’t make this change. Why is this even necessary? Leave the game alone.

  28. I really don’t get this player safety thing on onside kicks. You can go a whole weekend without seeing one. Don’t recall ever seeing a stretcher after one either.

  29. Roger Goodell is smart enough to understand that, the NFL, like America, will continue to decay and decline if it does not innovate and change its ways in the face of a future that doesn’t care about yesterday. Bravo for trying something fresh, hopefully this means that the Kickoff is eliminated entirely because the Science is undeniable that its bad for people, and bad for people is bad for the fufufe.

  30. I just remember Tom Brady against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game couldn’t do squat….so they just employed the 30-35 yard sideline back shoulder PI drawing pass a couple of times and waa lah, the Patriots were right back in it. Imagine all the screwy scenarios from this gimmick rule. It’s going to be straight up Arena Football 2.0.

  31. Stuff like this is why the NFL is the best. You want want more scoring? The teams owners will vote to give you more scoring. They have no problems changing any rule to make it a better game to watch. I appreciate that.

    Baseball still allows infield shifts and still only has a DH in one league. The owners lack of inaction to up the scoring has led to declining viewership, so much so that soccer has a real chance to overtake MLB as the America’s 3rd most popular sport over the next 10 years. The demographics in this country are changing and “the old white man sport full of cheaters” isn’t faring well with younger generations.

  32. Why not just make the onside kick Exempt from the “no running start on kickoffs” rule.. I think the rule was implemented over concerns of players running 40 yards full speed on kickoff coverage and not so much for the collisions that occur during onside kicks. No?

  33. This would be another opportunity to give refs a chance to control the outcome of games!

  34. Teams with an elite QB will be favored not like they will need it but you make a perfect game plan to contain them and then this, it doesn’t make any sense.

  35. They should make it more interesting, like forcing a non-starter qb to get under center.

  36. Was there actually a debate over that you WOULDN’T be able to try it whenever you wanted?

  37. YouBeCrazy says
    The demographics in this country are changing and “the old white man sport full of cheaters” isn’t faring well with younger generations
    ____________________________
    You need to travel more.. in every part of the world their are “old” RICH CURRUPT people who control that area whether it’s Asian, Arab, Indian, African (except south) or Hispanic. Meanwhile I happen to be 62 yrs old and white in America. White men were here to start this government so now there are some rich decedants of them who happen to be the same color as me. There are 300 MILLION of us here in America who are NOT those few rich decedants. And the majority of us are actually white. And those in great wealth/power who like to abuse it are not at all concerned whether I am white, they steal and abuse their power over EVERYONE under their position. Just the same as the Chinese abuse their own race, the Indians abuse their own race, as well as those African and South American “leaders” abuse their own.

    Travel – see this – and come back and help ME an old white guy – they to fight vs the curruption and powermonging, that yes here happens to be mostly white. Just like every color/race has to deal with.

    Because if you can’t see this phenomenon, your current sentiments are ADDING MORE to the very same time racial/age injustice you loath.

  38. Put the ball in the center of the field on the 50, both teams line up on their 40, blow the whistle and whoever recovers the ball gets it on their 30.

  39. ditkasanger says
    You need to travel more.. in every part of the world their are “old” RICH CURRUPT people who control that area whether it’s Asian, Arab, Indian, African (except south) or Hispanic. Meanwhile I happen to be 62 yrs old and white in America. White men were here to start this government so now there are some rich currupt descendants of them who happen to be the same color as me. There are 300 MILLION of “us” here in America who are NOT those few rich descendants – and the majority of “us” are actually white. And those with great wealth/power who like to abuse it are not at all concerned whether I am white, they steal and abuse their power over EVERYONE under their position. Just the same as the Chinese powermongers abuse their own race,as well as the Arab,Indian, African and South American “leaders” also abuse their own “people.”

    Travel, see this, and come back and help ME, an old white guy, to fight vs the curruption and powermonging, that yes ‘here’ happens to be mostly white. Just like every color/race has to deal with.

    Because if you can’t see this phenomenon, your current sentiments are ADDING MORE to the very sameracial/age injustice you loath.
    _______________________

    That is one of the most intelligent and insiteful comments I’ve ever read on this site. Well on ANY site actually.

  40. I’m going back to SURFING!!! Kelly Slater is the true GOAT of all sports, for INDIVIDUAL EFFORT. 11-time World Champ.

    Wait, I forgot we’re talking about what used to be football……

  41. I’m going to agree with the thumbs down crew. Please bring back the original on-sides kick and simply develop better protect gear.

  42. On all kicks and punts all players have to hop on one leg and cannot alternate legs once they’ve declared.

    If this proves to be too dangerous then they could introduce an element of freeze tag next year.

  43. Bad rule. It allows a team to score 24 points in 3 plays + 3 PATs. That’s not football.

  44. raidernationbaby says:
    May 24, 2020 at 7:53 am
    Gonna go for it every time…Madden style
    ———
    And, by “every time”, you mean just twice? Because the proposal allows a team to do it just twice a game. But, don’t bother to read the article before throwing out an uninformed position…..

  45. golions1 says:
    May 24, 2020 at 9:08 am
    ….And midway in the second quarter it is Kansas City 21, Chargers 0, and when we come back the Chargers will finally get a chance to go on offense…
    ——————-

    Why do so many people, like the comment above assume that a 4th and 15 is a gimme? If it is such a gimme, why do any teams punt ever?

  46. nite2al says:
    May 24, 2020 at 1:16 pm
    I really don’t get this player safety thing on onside kicks. You can go a whole weekend without seeing one. Don’t recall ever seeing a stretcher after one either.

    ——————-
    The biggest reason to change onside kicks is due to the fact that teams cannot truly have a chance to complete one currently.

    As to your point about not seeing one all weekend, if they are that rare, why is everyone whining so much about a change?

  47. I have the perfect idea but (1) I’m a nobody and (2) it’s too late: there should be a “make it, take it” rule if you score two points from the further distance used to kick extra points. Then just get rid of onside kicks. Make kickoffs work like a punt if the kicking team touches the ball.

  48. They’re rare because they’re difficult. If you make them easier, they’d be less rare. That’s why people want them to be easier.

  49. Stop messing with the sport. These gimmicky rule changes are annoying and
    unnecessary. It’s the never-ended urge by the mandarins to make games more “exciting,” but you’re just ruining the credibility of the sport. Once you start down this road, you turn a sport into some BS “made for TV event,” like American Gladiator and other ridiculous shows. What’s next: Putting all the players on unicycles?

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