A play in which a player receives a punt from the opposing team and attempts to advance the ball as far as possible down the field. The primary advantage to a punt return is that it can give the offense better field position and increase the possibility of scoring. In rare occasions, a punt can be returned all the way to the end zone for a score. Punt teams will use a variety of strategies to minimize the possibility of a punt return.
Punt returns are the primary way teams will attempt to change field position during a game. Since the goal of punters is to pin the team as deep in their own territory as possible, teams will set up a punt return to get some of those yards back. Punt returners will receive the ball and try to find a lane to run the ball down the field. Punt returns have an element of risk in that a fumble on a return can give the kicking team the ball back with a significant gain in field position. If the punt return seems too high a risk, the returner can call a fair catch, which gives the returner a free chance to catch the ball but eliminating his ability to advance it after the catch.