Trick Play - Common Trick Plays

Common Trick Plays

Common trick plays attempt to place the defence out of position by starting action in one direction, then completing it in another. There is no real "trick" being played in terms of deception, the defence simply reacts without considering the possibility of the ball carrier changing mid-play.

End arounds. In an end-around play, a wide receiver or split end runs laterally behind the line of scrimmage, takes a handoff from the quarterback, and continues around the opposite end of the line. Because the defense normally expects the wide receivers to run a downfield pass pattern, an end-around that catches the defenders by surprise can result in a big gain. The chance of this working, however, is relatively low against an alert defense.

Reverse A similar trick play is a reverse, which often begins as an end-around. In a reverse, a ball-carrier running parallel to the line of scrimmage in one direction hands off to a teammate coming in the opposite direction. This abruptly reverses the lateral flow of the play; if the defense is slow to react, the second ball-carrier might make it around the end of the line to a near-open field. Variations of the basic reverse include the double reverse (which involves a second flow-reversing handoff), exceedingly rare triple reverses involving even more handoffs, the fake reverse described below, and the reverse flea flicker.

Double pass Essentially a reverse conducted with lateral passes instead of hand-offs. This play differs from the following primarily in that the ball remains behind the line of scrimmage during the passes.

Halfback pass. (See also Halfback option play.) In this play the quarterback pitches the ball to a halfback as if it were an outside run, but instead of running up the field the halfback looks for an open receiver to pass the ball to. Teams that have a player who is both a skilled runner and passer use this play more often. Former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson is a notable example, having thrown seven touchdown passes off halfback options in his career.

Wide receiver pass / Fake reverse. Similar to the halfback pass, the ball is given to a wide receiver on an end around or reverse, but instead of turning upfield he looks for a passing target (which in some situations might include the quarterback, who has run a pass pattern after the handoff.) Like the halfback pass, this play often utilizes a multi-skilled player; Antwaan Randle El is a wide receiver who played quarterback in college and is known for his ability to pass, throwing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, another wide receiver who also played as a quarterback in college, during Super Bowl XL.

Flea Flicker In the Flea Flicker, the ball is passed or thrown to a player to begin what appears to be a typical rush. Like the halfback pass, the receiver stops to throw the ball, but in this case, throws it back to the quarterback. The quarterback can then attempt a conventional pass play. This eliminates the need for the receiver to be a strong thrower, as the distances are normally kept short for these plays.

Reverse Flea Flicker. As the name implies, this is a combination of a reverse and a flea flicker. After one or more reverse handoffs, the ball is lateraled back to the quarterback, who looks for an open receiver downfield. As with all flea-flickers, the play is designed to trick the defensive backs into coming upfield prematurely to defend what they believe to be a rushing play.

Halfback Direct Snap. These are plays, usually run from shotgun formations (or "Wildcat Offense" formations), where someone other than quarterback (usually, but not always, a halfback) takes the snap. From this start, the offense may try a running play, a passing play, or a flea-flicker.

Dual Quarterbacks The offense brings two quarterbacks onto the field for a play. This is typically utilized when a team's second or third-string quarterback has dual-threat ability, confusing the defense as to how the play will develop, and who will be passing the ball. Teams may keep one of the quarterbacks far wide as a receiver and throw a screen pass to him on a Double Pass play, where he then throws deep downfield or across the field to the scrambling quarterback. Seneca Wallace and Matt Hasselbeck were used in this package by the Seattle Seahawks in 2009. In Week 8 of the 2008 season, the Baltimore Ravens lined up Troy Smith at halfback next to Joe Flacco in the shotgun. Flacco handed the ball off to Smith, who rolled to the right, and then lobbed the pass back down the sideline to a sprinting Flacco for a gain of 43 yards.

Hook and lateral. Also known as a "hook and ladder", the hook and lateral play involves a lateral pass after a completed forward pass. The most common variant of this play involves a receiver who runs a curl pattern, catches a short pass, then immediately laterals the ball to another receiver running a crossing route. Sometimes known as a "circus".

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