Football Defensive Back Plays

American football’s defensive backs have a number of plays they can make. Their goal with these plays is to prevent the opponent’s receivers from catching the ball and prevent a possible touchdown.

Here are some of the positive plays with which a defensive back can make his mark in a football game. The first three of these plays are reflected on the statistical sheet after the game; the rest just go into the receiver’s or quarterback’s memory bank. Of course, all tackles are recorded, but the ones in this list have a unique style of their own:

  • Interception: The ultimate prize: when a defensive back picks off a pass that was intended for a receiver. An even bigger thrill is returning the catch for a defensive touchdown, which is called a pick six (pick because the pass was picked off, and six because returning the catch for a touchdown scores 6 points).

  • Pass defensed: A statistic that a defensive back achieves every time he deflects a pass or knocks the ball out of a receiver’s hands. You can also say that the defensive back broke up a pass. A pass defensed means an incompletion for the quarterback.

  • Forced fumble: When a defensive back forces the ball away from a receiver after he gains possession of the ball. Defensive backs have been known to use both hands to pull the ball away from the receiver’s grasp. This play is also known as stripping the ball. Any defensive player can force a fumble, and forced fumbles can happen on running plays, too.

  • Knockout tackle: The ultimate tackle. It puts a wide receiver down for the count. Every safety in the league wants a knockout tackle; it’s a sign of intimidation. Defensive backs believe in protecting their (coverage) space and protecting it well. Cornerbacks want these hits, too, but many of them are satisfied with bringing an offensive player down any way they can.

  • Groundhog hit: A perfectly timed tackle on a receiver who’s leaping for the ball. Instead of aiming for the body, the defensive back goes for the feet, flipping the receiver headfirst into the ground.

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