The London NFL games always bring something new and funky to the table. Maybe it's the time difference or the jet lag, but weird things happen during the international games.
This week was no exception. The Carolina Panthers faced off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and were up 17-7 with about a minute to go in the half. Christian McCaffrey then inexplicably ran out of bounds on a third down run while the Bucs had no time outs, giving them the ball back with 40 seconds left. Jameis Winston then hit Mike Evans on a long bomb in stride, but the sure-handed Evans simply dropped it. The Bucs were then called for three consecutive false start penalties before finally punting the ball. Then the fun starts!
The Panthers called a fair catch on the ball and had possession with one second remaining. They then invoked the exceptionally rare "fair catch free kick rule", where they were granted a free kick from the 50-yard line instead of lining up for a regular field goal, which would have run the risk of a block or fumble. The faces of the fans sums up the situation well, I'd say.
For those confused: the rule states that a team can invoke a free kick upon a fair catch. If they miss the free kick, it's a turnover. When a team is close enough to consider a free kick feasible, it's good enough field position that they wouldn't want to immediately line up and kick a field goal. It has to be the perfect combination of circumstances, and those circumstances arose today. If you're even more confused, here's an NFL official breaking it down:
Honestly, huge props to the Panthers' special teams coach. He confused the Bucs and managed to draw three false start penalties on them, pushing the line of scrimmage back far enough that Carolina received the ball at the 50, which allowed for the free kick. What a ridiculous series of plays.