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Dolphins kicker may have illegally used QB ball for game-tying FG vs. Bills

While we aren’t quite sure if it was illegal, we’re almost positive not using the K ball helped on the 55-yarder.

To send the scintillating Dolphins-Bills game to overtime on Christmas eve, Miami kicker Andrew Franks nailed a 55-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in regulation.

A few days after the game, while meeting with the media, Franks made this known:

Ummm... is that legal?

MRW and I did some research, and, well... we weren’t able to uncover a concrete answer regarding whether kicking with the QB ball was legal or not.

Here’s how Matt put it: “Everything I've read says that Dolphins kicker should have used a K ball for the kick, but I can't find a spot where it's illegal to kick with a regular ball, per se.”

On K balls, the rule book portion of reads as follows”

“These balls are to be specially marked with the letter "k" and used exclusively for the kicking game.”

Technically, that says the K balls are only to be used for the kicking game, which doesn’t help us here. Nowhere could I find anything that says it’s an illegal action to kick with a QB instead of a K ball, but it’s not crazy to assume that would (or should?) be the case.

Furthermore, after checking around the Internet for a while, the final statement in Salguero’s tweet... “The K ball typically new and travels further” appears to be incorrect, which completely changes the insinuation that Franks was able to make the 55-yard kick despite using a ball that doesn’t travel as far.

This ESPN article from 2007 indicates K balls do not travel as far as the others.

“The NFL introduced the K Balls eight years ago after the competition committee decided teams were abusing their privileges and taking unusual measures to condition balls so they would fly higher and travel farther.”

A 2012 Business Insider article cited a 1999 Sports Illustrated piece (the same year K balls were introduced) which stated the following:

“New footballs are hard, unforgiving, smallish (with a correspondingly small sweet spot) and coated with a film that makes them slippery. They don't travel as far as game-worn balls, and they can't be "guided" as accurately as roundish, softer balls. When you see a kicker squeeze a ball, it's because he wants to soften it and make it rounder.”

In 2011, the Chargers’ official website posted an article about the K ball. Included is this line:

“While the new K balls are more difficult to kick than the ones broken in at practice, most players have accepted the rules and learned to adapt.”

Unfortunately, at this moment, we don’t have a specific answer on whether or not Frank’s kick was illegal or not. However, it is pretty clear that he gained an advantage by kicking the game-tying field goal with the QB ball, not the K ball.

We’ll leave this “case” open and call it, creatively, #KBallGate.