A statistic that measures the amount of yardage gained by a returner between receiving a punt and either being tackled, forced out of bounds, or scoring a touchdown. Teams that gain a lot of punt return yards are more likely to give their offense better field position and better opportunities to score. Punters will use a variety of tactics to eliminate punt return yardage, including punting the ball high to allow the coverage team time to get to the returner or kicking it out of bounds to eliminate the return.
Punt return yards are an way to measure the effectiveness of a special teams unit. A team will attempt to place blockers in the correct position to allow a returner to gain large amounts of punt return yards. Good punt returners are prized for their ability to break long returns and even score touchdowns. The advantage to gaining punt return yards is that it shortens the field for a team's offense, giving them a better chance of scoring. Kicking teams will alter the way they punt the football to minimize the number of punt return yards gained.