In indoor football, you see a bunch of weird plays that would not be possible in the outdoor game, simply because of the smaller field, and the closer proximity the players have to one another.
One area of the game where weird plays always seem to happen is special teams, particularly on kick offs, partly because teams kick off from their own goal line, which means any mistake REALLY gets compounded because at worst the other team is getting the ball in great field position.
Last year saw a team give up a ZERO-yard kick return for a touchdown after a kicker basically whiffed on a kick-off attempt.
Last night at the Champions Indoor Football opener for the Amarillo Venom, they somehow gave up a safety while kicking off to start the 2nd half. Take a look at the video:
It’s hard to see because the camera whips downfield in anticipation of the kick also going downfield but here’s what happened, and this kick happened 10 feet in front of me, as I was at the game last night.
The kick hits off one of the Dallas Marshall blockers who are lined up 10 yards from the ball, and proceeds to take a wicked hop backwards towards the Venom end zone. Neither team is able to control the ball while it is outside the end zone, at which point it bounces into the end zone, where the Venom are able to recover.
And then chaos ensues, because nobody is quite sure what the ruling in this situation is. After discussion, refs determine that it is a safety against the Venom, allowing the Marshalls to pull within 28-14 AND they get the ball back on another kick off. They scored on that possession and a 28-12 game quickly became 28-21. The Venom went on to recover from the confusion and would win 62-42.
But did the refs make the right call? Like I said, neither team was able to control the ball outside the end zone, and on a kick off, once a player from the opposing team touches the ball it is considered a fumble, which would technically mean that Dallas “fumbled” the ball into the Amarillo end zone, where the Venom recovered. It probably should have been a touchback and Venom ball at the 5-yard line instead of a safety.
Here’s what the CIF rulebook says, emphasis on parts B and C:
1) A safety is scored when:
a. A player is in possession of the ball in his own team’s goal area, other than on a free kick, and the ball is declared dead, or
b. A player is responsible for bringing or placing the ball anywhere behind his team’s goal line by carry, kick, fumble, bat, or backward pass, and the ball is
subsequently declared dead
c. When in question, it is a touchback, not a safety.
Again, the Venom did not bring the ball into their end zone on purpose, it bounced in off a Marshall’s player, where the Venom finally were able to recover, and were immediately tackled. There really isn’t a rule in the CIF rulebook for this situation, which brings us to point C above, when it question, it should be a touchback.
It was one of the more bizarre plays I’ve ever seen, and one that cost the Venom nine points in a span of 30 seconds, luckily for them that did not end up costing them the game.
Indoor football, it can get weird sometimes.