You are thinking about the NFL....in college everyone can go downfield at the snap.
Here's a variation. Suppose it's 4th and 20. The punter gets the snap and sees an opening to run for the first down. He crosses the LOS and then sees a tackler appear. He decides to punt. Is that legal?
In the current Sports Illustrated, there is an article on a current NFL ref, drawing a blank on his name, but he said that there is no rule on pass interference when a team is punting, presumably the punter making the pass. But added that he has never seen it happen, either. Why wouldn't there be interference if a DB tackles a WR or RB out in the flat as the ball is in the air?
I've been watching football for 25 years and I've never seen this happen. And I watch a lot of football.
When a team lines up in punt formation, it does not have to punt the ball. The punter can run with the ball or pass the ball from the punt formation. However, outside receivers are not given protection from pass interference on a pass from punt formation. For example, the outside gunner may sprint downfield and the punter can throw the ball to him. However, a defender can hit that player as he is sprinting downfield because the opponent is under the impression that he is a tackler who is trying to make a play against a punt return. The rationale behind the rule is that the defensive team does not have to afford the gunner room to run without being hit and may attempt to prevent him from getting downfield.
The rule reads:
“Whenever a team presents an apparent punting formation, defensive pass interference is not to be called for action on the end man on the line of scrimmage.”
Otherwise, any time you lobbed a pass to a gunner, it would be pass interference as they are always fighting with the coverage team.
That does not mean it can't be called against other players who are not designated gunners.
This post was edited on 10/9 at 11:22 am
You can be real sly about it. On 3rd and extremely long, teams have done a surprise quick kick with the qb. Catch them completely off guard and save field position because no return. It's not unheard of.