Monday night’s game ended with the Giants trying to complete a comeback win, and failing when they couldn’t recover an onside kick. The onside kick was a pathetic attempt that the Falcons covered easily, but it’s hard to blame the Giants: The NFL’s new rules on kickoffs have made onside kicks incredibly difficult to recover.
New kickoff rules mandate where players on the kickoff team can line up, and prevent kicking team players from getting a running start. Those two rules combine to make it very tough to recover an onside kick.
This year NFL teams have tried 20 onside kicks and recovered just two of them. That 10 percent recovery rate is worse than in recent years.
In 2017 NFL teams tried 57 onside kicks and recovered 12 of them, or 21 percent.
In 2016 NFL teams tried 62 onside kicks and recovered seven of them, or 11 percent.
In 2015 NFL teams tried 68 onside kicks and recovered 10 of them, or 15 percent.
In 2014 NFL teams tried 59 onside kicks and recovered nine of them, or 15 percent.
When onside kicks are more difficult, comebacks are less likely. And games with late comebacks are some of the most exciting games in football. So by making onside kicks more difficult, the NFL is costing the fans some fantastic finishes.