Scoring the "fake FG" touchdown


What makes for a special teams touchdown?

The Green Bay Packers' first touchdown in Thursday's game came courtesy of a trick play, when the field goal unit lined up for what appeared to be a 42-yard attempt. The ball was snapped to holder Tim Masthay -- who also serves as the punter -- who flipped a short pass to tight end Tom Crabtree, who rumbled to the end zone for the touchdown.

The scoring on the play therefore goes down as a 27-yard touchdown pass from Masthay to Crabtree. Why not credit the special teams unit, since the "field goal unit" is traditionally part of "special teams?" Because special teams scoring does not account for passing touchdowns; only return touchdowns are scored, as clearly stated in the ESPN Scoring Settings for Standard Leagues. Defense/Special teams receive credit for return touchdowns, having gained possession of the ball after the opposing team has snapped it and either kicked it, fumbled it or had it intercepted. There is no circumstance in which a Defense/Special Teams unit can be credited for a touchdown pass or reception.

The reason behind this limitation is to avoid having interpretation of intent influence a scoring play. If Aaron Rodgers were the holder on field goal attempts and he had been the one to flip the ball to Crabtree, it would be obvious that he should be credited for a 27-yard touchdown pass, just as Crabtree, who is unowned in ESPN standard leagues, is credited for a 27-yard touchdown reception. And yes, this does mean that, if you own Masthay in an ESPN standard league which rosters punters, your received a nice scoring bonus of however your league settings score 27-passing yards and a touchdown pass out of your punter slot. But you won't get the same from the Packers' D/ST.