A rule in the NFL that makes it illegal for any player to bat or punch a loose ball, which is one that is without possession after touching the ground, in any direction, if it is in either end zone.
Usually referred to as a batted ball or illegal bat or Rule 12, Section 4, Article 1(b).
In the event of this occurring the penalty is as follows:
"Penalty: For illegal batting or punching the ball: Loss of 10 yards. For enforcement, treat as a foul during a backward pass or fumble. If the foul is by the defense, it is an automatic first down."