Yes , but how many times have you seen the kicking team try to down the ball inside the 1 yard line, having possession of the ball then step into the end zone to have it ruled a touch back. Shouldn't the ball be ruled dead ias soon as it;s touched just liked it is at the 18?
ugh, more research...
The player attempting to catch the kicked ball may attempt a fair catch. If caught, the ball becomes dead and the receiving team gets the ball at the spot of the catch.
A touchback may be called if the kicked ball enters the receiving team's end zone without first touching any player, whether in flight or on a bounce; or if the receiving team catches the ball in its own end zone and downs it before advancing the ball out of the end zone; or if the ball enters then exits the end zone behind the goal line. The receiving team gets the ball at its own 20-yard line.
If a player from the kicking team is the first to touch the ball after it crosses the line of scrimmage, "illegal touching" is called and the receiving team gains possession at the spot where the illegal touching occurred. This is often not considered to be detrimental to the kicking team; for example, it is common for a player on the kicking team deliberately to make contact with the ball near the goal line before it enters the end zone to prevent a touchback. Since there is no further yardage penalty awarded, the kicking team is often said to have "downed the ball" when this occurs (and the NFL does not count it as an official penalty). While the ball is not automatically dead upon an illegal touch, and can be advanced by the receiving team (who would then have the choice of accepting the result of the play or taking the ball at the spot of the illegal touch), this rarely happens in practice, as illegal touching typically occurs when members of the kicking team are closer to the ball than members of the receiving team.
The length of the punt, referred to as punting yards or gross punting yards, is measured from the line of scrimmage (not the spot where the punter punts) to whichever of the following points applies: (1) the spot that a punt is caught; (2) the spot that a punt goes out of bounds; (3) the spot that a punt is declared dead because of illegal touching; or (4) the goal line, for punts that are ruled touchbacks.
The net punting yardage is taken by calculating the total punting yardage and subtracting any yardage earned by the receiving team on returns, and subtracting 20 yards for each touchback.
To actually down a punt, and I found this interesting
and did not know all the details previously, Either team can down a punt after it hits the ground or after one of its players touches the ball past the line of scrimmage. To down the ball, a player must be in possession of the ball, stop his forward movement, and drop to one knee. Such action leads to an official blowing his whistle, signaling the end of action.