Connect with us

Buffalo Bills

Football for Academically Challenged British Plonkers, Ed. 3: Legal Forward Pass

Published

on

Welcome back to the third edition of FACBP. Today, we discuss the forward pass, what it is and what constitutes a legal forward pass. To help you Plonkers understand this rule, we will use the example of, brace yourselves, the Music City Miracle. (TRIGGER WARNING: PAST TRAUMA!) I make no apologies, we’re all here to learn.

Please, don’t interrupt until the end of the presentation.

Disclaimer: I will be using the NFL rulebook as a reference, but keep in mind that NFL officials seemingly hate this book. So, during games, you will see that they don’t use this as an “official rulebook” but rather rough guidelines. (And they are much more likely to be swayed based on which side Tom Brady is on.)

What IS a forward pass?

I don’t know why I need a section for this. The definition is in the name, it’s a pass that is thrown forward. Why do I have to do everything for you idiots? I’m sorry that was mean. Why do I have to do everything for you “plonkers”? Much better.

What is a LEGAL forward pass?

To be totally honest, everything is legal if you decide to simply ignore the fact that rules and laws exist. But, in this very specific case, rules do exist.

So, for the pass to be legal, the ball can only be thrown FORWARD once. And, if it passes the line of scrimmage (the imaginary line drawn across the field where the ball is), the ball cannot be thrown again. Even if the ball moves past the LOS and then returns behind it, the pass cannot be thrown again. Please see the drawing below for further understanding.

Drawing made by Trish (No, she is not an artist, but thank you for thinking that.)

Example: The turnstile known as Bobby Hart refuses to stop defenders and makes Josh Allen fend for himself.

If our Lord and Savior crosses the LOS (yellow line), he HAS to make a run for it. He can’t pass it. Very much the opposite of Carson Wentz, who refuses to throw the ball because he knows he sucks at it.

What is an ILLEGAL forward pass?

Obvious illegal forward passes include throwing two forward passes (the very first thing we discussed) and throwing the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage. (Duh.) And the final one:

If a forward pass is thrown after there has been a change of possession i.e., during a kick or punt return it is an ILLEGAL move.

(Enter loophole…)

A forward pass after a change of possession is illegal, but a lateral is not. This is not in the name because the NFL is confusing. A lateral pass is a pass that doesn’t go forward. It moves laterally (across the field) or backwards.

How does this play out in a game? (TRIGGER WARNING: MUSIC CITY MIRACLE!)

There are 16 seconds left on the clock and the Buffalo Bills have just scored a FG to put themselves up by one point over the Tennessee Titans. Steve Christie then kicks off. The ball hangs in the air for some time, finally being caught by the Lorenzo Neal at the Titans 25-yard-line.

Time for the first lateral. A simple “handoff” from Neal to Frank Wycheck. He runs down that 25-yard-line to the center of the field, taking defenders with him. This leaves Kevin Dyson open on the numbers…

Animated GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & share this Animated GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

Remember those rules? Well, they come into effect during this second lateral. From this angle, it very much looks to be a forward pass. Wycheck is on the 25, whilst Dyson is a yard in front. By definition this is a forward pass.

Animated GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & share this Animated GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

But watch the ball…

Animated GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & share this Animated GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

Dyson takes a step back into the pass, which is very much laterally moving across the line just half a step off of the 25-yard-line. Watch it again…

Animated GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & share this Animated GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

Once again, I do not apologise for anyone who suffered distress at this breakdown, you were warned. But at least now you know what constitutes a legal and illegal forward passes. You should also know that there are penalties enforced for illegal moves. But again, the officials play by their own rules, so nothing they do or say should be taken as gospel.

Next Week

I hope this was helpful for all you Plonkers! What football topic do you want explained next week? Let me know in the comments or send a Tweet, Carrier Pigeon, DM, Telepathic Energy, FB Message, Letter, Postcard, etc. But, for the love of God, DO NOT send me an email. Because I live in the stone ages and don’t use email. (Pfft. Idiots.)

Much like Marty McFly, Trish Patel (aka Tyler Bass Enthusiast) is a time traveller who stole a sports almanac so as to fool you mortals into believing that she can predict the stats of a game. If you come at her on social media, there is an excellent chance you'll get burnt. They don't call her @savage_trish for nothing.

Click to comment

Comment below!