In an effort to simplify the rules governing missed field goals, a rule change was approved this spring to apply scrimmage kick rules to a missed field goal that goes into the end zone without being touched, or if either team recovers a blocked field goal behind the line of scrimmage.
Under the new rule, a missed field goal is treated similarly to a punt. A punt can travel over the line of scrimmage and can return back, but previously, a missed field goal could not. This keeps the enforcements between the two as consistent as possible. Although it may seem confusing, it actually simplifies things so that a blocked punt and a blocked field goal are not handled differently, and the “spot of kick” option doesn’t override the other rules pertaining solely to scrimmage kicks.
When a field goal is missed, the defense starts their next possession at the spot of the kick, and this new rule for 2019 extends that provision to specific missed field goals. If the ball is blocked back into the direction of the kicker, and it is recovered by a player on the kicking team, and he is tackled in the approximate 7-8 yard area between the spot of the kick and the line of scrimmage, the ball is given to the defense at the spot of the kick. Under the prior iteration of the rule, once the ball is recovered, it is no longer a kick, and the defense would get the ball where the player was tackled.
However, if the kick crosses the line of scrimmage, and then is returned behind the line, the ball will be dead at the end of the run. This new rule removes the “spot of the kick” choice in this scenario, as illustrated below.
With respect to the part of the rule applying to ball entering the end zone, the ball will still be given to the defense at the spot of the kick. Similarly to the earlier part of the rule, the spot of the kick option goes away if the ball is first touched beyond the line of scrimmage by the defense on the play. In this case, the ball would be given to the defense at the dead-ball spot.
While all the jargon may seem to be doing more harm than good when it comes to simplicity, this new rule for 2019 will make enforcements on the officiating side more fluid and cooperate well with enforcements on punt plays. By making missed field goals and punts enforced in a more similar way than before, it becomes an easier play to officiate and can make sorting out the play run more smoothly when a field goal attempt goes haywire.