The Montreal Alouettes' latest one-yard punt play, from June 28, 2024. The Montreal Alouettes’ latest one-yard punt play, from June 28, 2024. (The Comeback on X/Twitter.)

The Canadian Football League has many rules that are a little different from NFL or NCAA football. Quite a few of those revolve around punts and kicks, and the majority of the different CFL rules there seem to be largely celebrated by both Canadian fans and by Americans and others who have discovered the game. But that’s not universal, especially when it comes to the one-yard punt or “dribble kick.”

This play comes from an unusual rule that exists in the CFL, but not at the Canadian amateur level. The CFL rules allow for any player to attempt an “open-field kick” at any point, and they or another teammate level with or behind them can recover the ball after it travels a yard forwards as long as a set of conditions are met (including that the offensive line can’t be more than a yard downfield and that the recovering player can’t interfere with opponents’ attempts to recover). The really controversial part of this is that the offensive team gains a new set of downs as long as the ball was kicked from behind the line of scrimmage and crossed that line of scrimmage.

While this dribble kick play has been allowed under CFL rules for a long time, it’s only been tried regularly in the past few years. And it’s mostly been done by one team. That would be the Montreal Alouettes, the reigning Grey Cup champions. They executed this successfully several times during the regular season last year. And they did it again Friday against the Toronto Argonauts:

But, as was also seen around several of the Alouettes’ previous times pulling this off, this play sparked incredible debate. That ranged from CFL site 3 Down Nation telling people “If you don’t like it, move south,” to a lot of other CFL media and fans insisting that they do not, in fact, like it. Here’s some of that back-and-forth:

At this point in time, the opinions on both sides seem to have calcified. Either this is a great use of a quirky CFL loophole (which we’ve also seen with less-controversial only-in-the-CFL plays, from downfield onside punts to onside kicks on field goals to punting to win to rouges versus touchdowns to missed field goal returns to back-and-forth punting on the same play), or it’s a disgrace to the sport. Either teams should be banned from using it, or teams should do a better job of stopping it.

For the moment, though, the play remains quite legal. While that’s the case, the debate on it is indeed just debate. But it’s possible there could eventually be a rule change to stop it. That would be interesting, as while this is a play that anyone could use, there’s mostly just this one team doing it (in even more of a notable way than the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles’ also-debated and also-still-allowedbrotherly shove,” which has been used by some other teams, but not as frequently or effectively). But they’ve found a lot of success with this, and they’ve certainly also kicked off a lot of arguments.

[The Comeback on X/Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.