I am a occasional football watcher from Europe, so please excuse my stupid question.
My question is the following: The standard outcome of a punt is a catch by the defending team and some running before he goes down or out of bounds. Sometimes, however, a member of the punting team happens to catch the punt, in which case the defending team gets possession where the catch happened. I don't really understand why the play does not continue in this case. What does such a catch distinguish to a 'normal catch'? I have the following thoughts:
- Kicking forward is generally allowed and could theoretically be done in 'normal play'. [EDIT: This assumption turned out to be wrong.]
- Sometimes, kick-offs are done in a manner to maintain possession (I guess this is called on-side kick?). If it's allowed in this case to catch the ball, why not after a punt?
- Kicking the ball wide forward (and usually giving up possession) is often seen in Rugby as a means to open up the game. If a member of the kicking team gains possession, the game just goes on.
Based on my understanding, I'd hence assume the kicking team would at least be granted a new first down. I don't see a reason why the possession would change in this case.