Quarterback sack

Quarterback sack

In American football and Canadian football, the sack occurs when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage before he can throw a forward pass. This often occurs if the opposing team's defensive line, linebackers or defensive backs are able to quickly get past blocking players of the offensive team, the quarterback's protection; or if the quarterback is unable to find, in a reasonable amount of time, an available eligible receiver including running backs and tight ends who can catch the ball, allowing the defense a longer opportunity to tackle the quarterback.

Note: In the NFL, you can have a sack for 0 (Zero) yards. The QB must pass the statistical line of scrimmage to avoid the sack.


In the NFL, yards lost on the play are added as negative yardage to the team's passing totals; however, the quarterback's individual passing total remains unchanged. Before that change in record keeping, tackling a player behind the line of scrimmage resulted in a loss from that player's (passing) statistics, even if it were fairly obvious a rush play had been intended. NCAA continues to subtract sack yardage from individual rushing totals.


To be considered a sack the quarterback must intend to throw a forward pass. If the play is designed for the quarterback to rush the ball, any loss is subtracted from the quarterback's rushing total. If the quarterback's intent is not obvious statisticians use certain criteria, such as the offensive line blocking scheme, to decide. Other unique situations where a loss reduces a quarterback's rushing total (not a sack) are "kneel downs" (used to run time off the game clock), and aborted plays, such as a fumbled snap that the quarterback falls on to maintain possession.

A player will receive credit for half of a sack when multiple players contribute to the sacking of a quarterback.


The term "sack" was not widely used before ca. 1970; previously one would simply refer to a player's being tackled behind the line (of scrimmage), in so many words. The NFL only began to keep track of sacks in 1982. [ [http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/indiv/sacks NFL Sack Records] ]


"Quarterback sack" was first coined by hall of fame defensive end Deacon Jones. [ [http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=108 Deacon Jones] from The Pro Football Hall of Fame] He felt that a sack devastated the offense in the same way that a city was devastated when it was sacked. [ [http://www.profootballhof.com/history/release.jsp?release_id=774 Deacon of Defense - Pro Football Hall of Fame ] ]

ee also

* "" - non-fiction book by Michael Lewis


External links

* [http://archive.profootballweekly.com/content/archives/features_1999/turney_062600.asp Sack Story] , an article describing the controversy over the sack record

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