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Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal" [merged]

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by TedyB54, Mar 24, 2008.

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  1. TedyB54

    TedyB54 Rookie

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    Something I've always been curious about, just wondering if someone has the basis for why penalties are sometimes "half the distance to the goal".

    For example, if a team is at the opponents 8 yard line and the defense commits a 5 yard offsides penalty, the ball would get moved to the 3. However, if a defender decided to take a swipe at a QBs head at that same 8 yard line, it only ends up as a 4 yard penalty even though the infraction is much worse.

    Seems to me that the ball should be marked off as far as possible for the yardage of the penalty until it gets to the 1 yard line.

    Any idea as to why it's not done that way?


    Thanks.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  2. TruthSeeker

    TruthSeeker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    You're incorrect; a 5 yard penalty from the 8 yard line is actually marked off as half the distance to the goal and would be spotted on the 4 yard line.

    Seems like a reasonable rule to me; your opinion may vary.
  3. TedyB54

    TedyB54 Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    So, where on the field do they start marking half the distance for penalties. Is it for anything inside the 10?
  4. SaCaCh

    SaCaCh Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    I believe the rule is if the penalty yardage carries into the goal it is then halved.
  5. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    The rule applies to any penalty where the yardage marked off would be more than half the distance to the goal. In other words, it would apply to a five yard penalty from inside the 10, a 15 yard penalty from inside the 30, etc. The only time it doesn't apply is when a penalty is based on spot of infraction, like a pass interference call in the end zone being brought out to the one.
  6. godef

    godef Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    No, the original post cited such an example, a 5 yard penalty from the 8.

    More simply, if the penalty moves the ball more than halfway to the goal, then it becomes half the distance.
  7. DGameguy

    DGameguy Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    I'm pretty sure unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and personal fouls ie rough the quarterback, which would normally be 15 yards, are also halved when inside the opposing team's twenty yard line. I would check my NFL rulebook, but I'm at work. I believe there is an online version, however, if anyone is bored enough to look it up.

    As for the reasoning behind it, I assume that the league does not want to change the result of a game by allowing a team to score simply because of a penalty, in other words, they want the red zone to be tougher/mean something, unless it is a penalty which directly affects scoring, such as pass interference in the end zone or something.
  8. TedyB54

    TedyB54 Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    Ok, that answers where it gets applied. Still curious as to the basis for the rule though. Seems odd that you can commit a 15 yard penalty at the 20 yard line and the ball ends up at the 10 instead of the 5.


    Thanks for the info.
  9. TedyB54

    TedyB54 Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    Could be, although on the other hand it would seem that the rule almost favors the defense in that situation.

    What if it's late in a game and a team is driving with minimal time left on the clock. They're at the 18 yard line and a defender decides puts a late hit on the QB knowing that it's only going to move the ball to the 9 instead of the full 15 yards (which would be the 3). Might be worth the shot in some cases.
  10. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    The idea in a penalty is to encourage people not to break the rule not to change the outcome of the game, placing the ball on the one would be to harsh. Personally I think a PI call should be placed on the 5 instead of the one unless the inseide the 20 because I think placing the ball on the 1 is too harsh
  11. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    I would imagine the rule was put into effect because the rulemakers still wanted the points to be "earned" and not determined by a penalty. They probably felt that moving the ball from the 16 to the 1, for example, was "too much" of a penalty. In addition, it wouldn't seem right that a 15-yarder from the 16 ends up at the 1, while the same penalty from the 14 only goes to the 7 yard line.

    Also, it works the same way on both ends of the field against the offense (leading to a safety) as it does against the defense (allowing a touchdown). Similar to a pass interference in the end zone where the offense is not awarded a touchdown, they still have to go in and score from the field of play.
  12. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    There's the answer right there. You really don't need to say any more than this to understand the rule.

    I challenge anyone to come up with a way, other than a half the distance (or some portion of the distance), that doesn't avoid this anomoly.

    I guess you could make it "two-thirds the distance to the goal." But that's hard math.

    I think the way it works now is pretty fair. Once you're inside the 30, you're subject to getting less yardage on penalties than in the other 70 yards, but it always stays proportional: You get more yards the further you are from the goal and less the closer, where the real estate is much more valuable.

    The one continuing anomoly is that inside the 10, a 5 yard penalty is worth the same as a 10 or 15 yard penalty. (And, inside the 20 a 10 yard penalty is worth the same as a 15.) Maybe you could have some proportion there, but it would be too complicated. Also, remember that many 10 and 15 yard penalties carry an automatic first down, which often is worth more in the red zone than the yardage anyway.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  13. Grogan's neck roll

    Grogan's neck roll Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    Actually, any 15 yard penalty that occurs inside the 30 is 1/2 the distance, since if at the 29 a 15 yard mark off would leave it more than 1/2 way to the goal.
  14. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #12 Jersey

    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    For some reason, half the distance does not apply to pass interference, which is marked down to the 1 yard all the time. This is particularly lame since it's often a 30+ yard penalty. What's up with that?
  15. JoePats

    JoePats Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    These are half the distance if they're inside the 30 yard line.
  16. Grogan's neck roll

    Grogan's neck roll Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    I'm not saying I agree with the rule, but I think the thinking behind this is that if the P.I. happens in the end zone, it pretty much must have prevented a score, so putting it at the 1 is "fair"?

    I am a college official and prefer our rule on P.I. which is the spot of the foul OR 15 yards, whichever is less. If there is a P.I. in the end zone, and the pass came from outside the 17, it's a 15 yard penalty. If it came from the 17 to the 2, then the ball is placed at the 2, and if it came from inside the 2, it's half the distance.
  17. spacecrime

    spacecrime Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    The other team has the ball first and goal at your 1 yard line.

    Offense is off-side: FIVE yard penalty.
    Defense is off-side: 18-inch penalty.

    The rule doesn't favor the offense or the defense. It simply states that (except for spot fouls like PI) penalties shall not be more than half the distance to the goal line.
  18. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    The half-the-distance-to-the-goal rule starts at the 30 yard line.
  19. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    not true.....remember the half the distance on the illegal kick off.

    Damn I cant remember the full details of the play...I just remember they enforced half the distance.......the more I think about this play even though I cant remember it accurately I don't think it apllies so maybe you are true.

    Anyone else remember what I am talkin about?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  20. ctpatsfan77

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    FWIW, that's not actually in the rulebook; if, for example, the penalty for some personal foul were increased from 15 yards to 20, the half-distance rule for that foul would start at the 40.

    Also, it's worth noting that there are two exceptions to the rule: the almost-never-called "palpably unfair act," and intentional grounding.
  21. Bobs My Uncle

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    #12 Jersey

    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    I too think it's a silly rule.

    Any penalty that doesn't allow to be penalized the full yardage amount should be placed at the 1 inch line.
  22. Palm Beach Pats Fan

    Palm Beach Pats Fan Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    Are you talking about the Baltimore game, two personal fouls after the TD, so the kickoff was not from the NE 35, or the 50, but from the Baltimore 35.

    Gotkowski kicked it through the endzone to give them the ball at the 20, but there was debate not only should he have tried an onsides kick, but also if he kicked it out of bounds on purpose, where would it be spotted:

    1) 25 yards from the line of scrimmage, the five yard line
    2) half the distance (essentially half the 35 yards, so placed at the 17 1/2)
    3) the point where the ball went out of bounds (seems to be no precedent for that)

    I'm not sure that I ever heard the ruling on that. Would half the distance apply on a kickoff from the "other" 35?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  23. signbabybrady

    signbabybrady Rookie

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    #24 Jersey

    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    That is the play and If I remember correct yes half the distance would have appllied.

    edit: i added to your post
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  24. Grogan's neck roll

    Grogan's neck roll Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    This is correct.
  25. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    Actually, to be precise, it was two PFs plus an offsides on the XP attempt (15 + 15 + 5 = 35 yards).

    (1) should actually be 30 yards from the LOS. (3) actually is stated in the rulebook; teams in this situation have the choice of taking the ball 30 yards from the spot of the kick, or at the point where it goes OOB (or a rekick after a 5-yard penalty).

    As far as (2) goes, Greg Aiello from the NFL said that the rule wouldn't apply, although Belichick thought it did. I guess we'll have to wait for it to actually happen to figure things out for sure. :)
  26. Calhoun44

    Calhoun44 Rookie

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    I always wondered why they don't move the first down marker in addition to half the distance to the goal. For example, if the offense commits a holding penalty on the 16 yard line on first down and ten, then the ball gets moved back to the 8 yard line and the first down marker gets bumped forward to the 28 yd. line. That would still make it first down and twenty, but not put the ball too close to the endzone.
  27. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    2007 NFL Rulebook, Rule 14:

  28. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Question on "Half the Distance to the Goal"

    That's true, but I'm not sure that an OOB KO counts as a "distance penalty." (Think of it this way: in normal cases, distance penalties "push the ball back," towards your end zone, from the spot of the foul. Here, the ball moves forward from the spot of the foul.) As I pointed out, someone asked Greg Aiello (an NFL rep), and he said that it didn't apply in this particular case.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  29. Snarf

    Snarf Rookie

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    Half the distance to the goal...what stops cheating?

    Let's say there is 50 seconds on the clock, and we don't want to give the ball away, and we are out of timeouts.

    What stops our offense from purposefully getting penalty after penalty until there is no time left on the clock?

    You could get your entire offensive line to simply stand there and hold, you could intentionally ground, false start... whatever... over and over again.

    Your penalty effectively becomes nothing as you get "half the distance to the goal" over and over again.

    Time expires, you win.

    Am I missing some rule that prohibits such trickery?

    I know that some penalties can be waved off by the defense to advance the down, but there are a bunch that are automatic by the referees. You could just ensure that your penalties are of that type.
  30. xmarkd400x

    xmarkd400x Rookie

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    Re: Half the distance to the goal... what stops cheating?

    I'm not sure if there is or isn't a rule. I'd imagine, however, that whoever did that would get in pretty big trouble.
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