If fans in London were confused by what was going on to close out the first half of Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they certainly were not alone.
Trailing 17-7 with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Bucs were about to punt the ball away to Carolina from their own 26-yard line when three consecutive pre-snap penalties backed them up to the 11. At that point, the Panthers decided they wanted to try what is known as a fair catch kick.
Most fans in America had no idea what that was, but it is an option a receiving team has if they want to attempt an uncontested field goal after a fair catch on a punt return. The decision gave Panthers rookie kicker Joey Slye a 60-yard attempt, but he missed it wide right.
Ever heard of a the NFL’s little-used “fair catch free kick” rule?
Here it is.
Wide left. pic.twitter.com/O2O6SEFkxK
— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) October 13, 2019
Former NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explained the play further, noting that is has not been used since 2013.
Joey Slye of the @Panthers just attempted a fair catch kick. Don’t see that often. Last one was Phil Dawson in 2013 49ers-Rams. If you complete a fair catch you can attempt a kick from that spot. No tee, & formation is like a kickoff w/10 yards between 2 sides. 3 points if good.
— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) October 13, 2019
Many fans in London have had to learn the rules of American football, and their American counterparts joined them in that for a short period on Sunday. I can personally say a fair catch kick is something I have never seen, and even I had no idea what it was.