NFL Closes Loophole on Las Vegas Raiders' Kicking Trick

NFL teams shamelessly pursue every edge they can get, and the Las Vegas Raiders are no different. However, they'll have to do without an innovative kicking strategy they implemented this season. According to, the NFL has reversed course and will no longer allow the team's tactic of consistently using a player as a holder to keep the ball on top of a tee. Placing the ball on top of the tee instead of inside necessitated committing a player to holding the ball in place, but apparently raised the ball high enough that Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson was able to improve hang time on his kicks. The NFL initially permitted the tactic but changed its mind this week.

It's difficult to determine whether the Raiders' trick provided a meaningful advantage; they rank fifth in average kick return yards allowed this season, so it's not like they made themselves some game-breaking outlier. Given their 5-8 record, there's even a case to be made the Raiders misallocated mental resources by coming up with this idea in the first place.

From now on, the NFL will require the ball to be placed inside the tee and will go back to only allowing players to serve as holders when the elements (wind, rain, etc.) require it. Before the Raiders got weird with it, teams only used a holder when absolutely necessary because it cost the player precious milliseconds running downfield to make a tackle.
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