The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Packers and the "Fair Catch Kick" Rule

Mike at the L&N Line has more on the Titans' fair catch kick, as well as a link to a story about the Packers use of the rule. Lombardi knew about it:

In view of such distinctions, it should come as no surprise that the classic series also has been punctuated - not once but twice - by one of the rarest plays in pro football history.

Going by the NFL rule book, it is officially known as the "fair catch kick."

Simply put, the rule states: "After a fair catch, the receiving team has the option to put the ball in play by a snap or a fair catch kick (a field goal attempt) - with fair catch lines established 10 yards apart."

The latter, incidentally, means that the defending team must be 10 yards removed from the scrimmage line of the kicking team and cannot "rush" the kick, which thus, as the name implies, is a "free" kick.

The Packers, then under the direction of Vince Lombardi, "introduced" the maneuver - a genuine rarity in league history - to a capacity house of 42,327 fans in their 1964 regular-season opener against the Bears (Sept. 13) in what was then known as City Stadium (it was to be renamed Lambeau Field just a year later, following the death of team founder E.L. "Curly" Lambeau).

With only seconds remaining in the first half, Elijah Pitts, back to receive Chicago's punt from Bobby Joe Green, signaled for a fair catch as he fielded the football at the Packers' 48-yard line.

Next, to the surprise of the full house - and virtually all members of the attending media -Lombardi informed Referee Norm Schachter that the Packers would be attempting a fair catch kick on what would be the final play of the first half, and the Green and Gold promptly lined up across the field, 11 strong, with quarterback Bart Starr remaining in the game as a holder at the line of scrimmage.

It's a good story. You'll have to click the link to find out how it ends. And while you're over at the L&N Line, check out the many sports related posts, as well as reviews of Two For The Money, and Wallace and Gromit.


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