While the NFL is growing in popularity in this part of the world, it is still very difficult to know all of the rules. It is a very complicated sport with a number of obscure rules that we very rarely see in action.
There was one example of this in London this afternoon. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were taking on the Carolina Panthers at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the second of four games taking place in the English city this season.
The Panthers had the better of things in the opening half, with two Christian McCaffrey touchdowns giving them a ten point lead as the second quarter drew to a close. McCaffrey is on a tear this season, showing his fancy footwork for this touchdown.
Christian McCaffrey is an absolute machine. What a step 👀pic.twitter.com/V3G2C2ebsy
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) October 13, 2019
Carolina actually had a chance to extend their lead with the last play of the half, and in bizarre circumstances.
Joey Slye had a 50-yard kick to add three points, but it was not just a regular field goal. It was a free-kick, which are exceedingly rare in the NFL.
Free-kicks are only awarded when a team elects to go for the posts directly after fair-catching a punt. Unlike in a regular field goal, the ball is not snapped before the kick, with it being held in place for the kicker.
The defending team is not allowed rush the kick. This allows the kicker to strike the ball on a lower trajectory, adding a few extra yards of distance.
You could see the look of confusion on the faces of the fans on London as the Panthers lined up the effort, which was ultimately missed.
.@Panthers fair-caught a punt with one second in the half...
Then tried a fair catch kick for three points!
You don't see this every Sunday. 👋👟🏈
📺: #CARvsTB on @NFLNetwork | @NFLUK
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Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/xLc7ljuEnj pic.twitter.com/FAPYwxJa9d
— NFL (@NFL) October 13, 2019
This was the first free-kick attempt in the NFL since 2013, and only the fifth in the last 35 years.
The circumstance which allow for free-kicks are rare. To begin with, the punt would have to come from deep inside opposition territory, as only then would the fair catch be in a desirable position.
It is also likely that teams would only attempt a free-kick as the last play of a half or of the game. Otherwise a miss would result in a turnover to the opposition from the spot of the kick.
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) October 13, 2019
It's unlikely you are going to see another one of these any time soon.