New NFL Kicking Rule Produces More Touchbacks

The NFL’s new rule that moved kickoffs up 5 yards this season produced a huge number of touchbacks during the opening weekend.

The league moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line hoping to address safety concerns, and that produced nearly triple the number of touchbacks from last year, according to STATS LLC.

Heading into Sunday night’s game between the Cowboys and Jets, 49 percent of kickoffs (63 of 129) were touchbacks. Last season only 18 percent (24 of 137) were not returned the opening weekend.

About the only surprise on opening weekend was that three kickoffs were returned for touchdowns – up from one last year.

Packers rookie Randall Cobb tied the NFL record for longest kick return with a 108-yard score on Thursday night against New Orleans.

Minnesota’s Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a TD against San Diego on Sunday. It was costly for the Chargers as kicker Nate Kaeding hurt his left knee on the play and missed the rest of the game.

Ted Ginn Jr. also had a 102-yard TD return for San Francisco against Seattle.

“I got an opportunity to go out and show what I had,” Ginn said. “It’s great. You do it on the video game a lot but you don’t see it a lot in real life.”

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