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Seahawks' onside kick formation was legal

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar (whose analysis I very much enjoy, by the way) created a bit of a hubbub this morning by tweeting a photo of the Seahawks' onside kick formation and stating that Seattle had an "illegal 6-man wedge on onside kick." The rule in question was whether or not Seattle can have more than four players on one side of the formation, and/or whether the Hawks were allowed to bunch up into a 'wedge' on one side.


There was some ambiguity out there about whether or not 5+ players on one side was indeed legal or not, but it seems that a few articles were out of date on the subject. Dean Blandino weighed in.

As the NFL's rulebook states,


As AcmePackingCompany points out in their article refuting the idea that it was illegal,

Much of the confusion today has been as a result of this story from 2009, which states that the NFL instituted a rule stating the following: "The kicking team can't have more than five players bunched together pursuing an onside kick. That will cost a team 5 yards." The definition of a "bunch" is loose though, and poorly-defined (like too many rules in the NFL's rulebook).

Dean Blandino again weighed in:

The "wedge/bunch" gray area was also addressed by Blandino.

Anyway, the bottom line, despite the confusing wording and perhaps some gray area on the subject, the Cheattle Cheathawks are not cheaters. At least not in this specific instance.