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The Panthers’ fair catch kick attempt, explained

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Ron Rivera celebrated #NFL100 by making use of an old rule.

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers - NFL International Series - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

We saw a unicorn on Sunday across the pond. The Panthers fair-caught a punt at the 50-yard line with one second left in the first half to try a fair catch kick for three points.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Panthers forced the Buccaneers to punt deep in their own territory, and called for a fair catch in order to get one last play off. But instead of a regular field goal attempt, Panthers coach Ron Rivera called for a fair catch kick — a drop kick or placekick without a tee — which looks like this:

This is more advantageous than a normal field goal. The Panthers were able to kick it from the line of scrimmage, instead of having to walk it back seven yards to snap it in a safe range from the defense’s paws.

Panthers kicker Joey Slye was also allowed to take his time not only running to kick the ball (the defense can’t move on a fair catch kick until the ball is booted), but he didn’t have to worry about it being blocked. So a line-drive kick that he wouldn’t normally do on a field goal could be done here.

The last time somebody tried one of these was in 2013, when Phil Dawson attempted a 71-yarder for the 49ers against the Rams. He also missed:

The last time a fair catch kick was worked was in 1976, when Ray Wersching successfully made one for the Chargers.

The Panthers ended up winning the game 37-26, so the missed attempt wouldn’t have mattered either way. But it was still cool to see, and a fun way to kick off an NFL Sunday.