A roughing the kicker penalty is when a defensive player hits the kicker during a kick. It is important that the defender is not attempting to get a penalty called on him. It could result in a foul being called on the kicker, such as in the above clip.
What is the Roughing the Kicker Penalty?
As you can see on the right, the red circle shows the penalty. A roughing the kicker penalty occurs if the defender is in possession of the ball, approaches an opponent without the ball, or touches an opponent with the ball.
Â The NFL rulebook states that if a player slides into or makes contact with the planted foot of a punter or kicker, a roughing the kicker penalty occurs. Similarly, if the kicker returns both legs to the ground, and the player slides into or makes contact with both legs, the player can receive the roughing the kicker penalty. Protections will extend to the holder of a field goal during the kick.
Difference Between Running and Roughing the Kicker?
The rules that penalize defensive players when they run into the kicker’s leg are not specific to the kicker, but are applied to players who hit the kicker’s leg while he is in motion (e.g., in the middle of the field while trying to get to the line of scrimmage or when kicking a ball, as a tackler).
A roughing the kicker penalty requires the defense to come back to its own 20-yard line, but the offense can still gain a first down by running a play from scrimmage or by kicking a field goal or extra point from there.
There are penalties that are part of the kickoff and return (a false start, for example). There are also penalties that are assessed on the field after the kick is over (a 15-yard penalty for touching the kicker before he has crossed the goal line or a facemask for example). Those might apply to the return if the defender commits one of these fouls.
When Can the Defense Make Legal Contact with the Kicker?
Just a reminder, if you are a kicker or a receiver, and are shoved into or hit by a blocker, you don’t have to worry about a penalty. Further, if the ball is recovered on your own, you can legally hit a defender or returner. This includes any situation where the ball is loose and you fall to the ground to try and recover it.
What is the History of Roughing the Kicker?
Roughing the kicker wasn’t even legal, so the rule was probably introduced to protect the kicker from getting injured by any kind of contact.
The Titans kicked the ball from the 1-yard line and it bounced out, but the clock ran out before the Steelers got a chance to move the ball. This allowed the Titans to keep possession.
The ball was then placed on the Titans’ side of the field, and the Steelers were given a last-minute chance to score a touchdown. The officials ruled that the Titans had committed the illegal touching of the ball, effectively ending the game. The Steelers protested, but the officials ruled the Titans to have committed the illegal touch.
The Steelers’ kicker Joe Nedney kicked a field goal for the first time in the game, but then he got called for a running into penalty. On his last attempt, he kicked and field goal, but it was blocked. Pittsburgh ended up losing the game 34-31.
Week 8: vs. New England Patriots
Hoping to rebound from their loss to the Steelers and improve their mediocre winning record, the Steelers traveled to Gillette Stadium in game two of the week. They were still without running back Willie Parker and receiver Charlie Batch, who were out due to injuries.