Football Special Teams: How to Block Field Goals and PATs
Blocking either a PAT or a field goal attempt in a football game can change the momentum of that game and eventually decide its outcome. To block kicks, defensive players must be dedicated, athletic, and willing to physically sacrifice themselves for the good of the team. To have a successful block, each man must do his job.
Blocked kicks may appear easy, but a play such as the middle field goal block requires talented defensive linemen who can win the battle up front. These defensive linemen position themselves near the center snapping the ball because the quickest way to any field goal or extra point attempt is up the middle.
With the ball 7 yards off the line of scrimmage, teams place their best pass-rushers in the middle, believing that one of them can penetrate the blocking line a couple of yards and then raise his arms, hoping to tip the booted ball with his hands. If the kicker doesn’t get the proper trajectory, the kick can be blocked.
In the following figure, the three interior defensive linemen (LT, N, and RT) are over the two guards and the snapper:
RT must align on the inside shoulder of the guard opposite him.
N lines up directly across from the center.
LT aligns on the inside shoulder of the guard opposite him.
These linemen want to be able to gain an edge, an angle, on those blockers. Their attempts to block the kick won’t work if the two tackles align squarely on top of the guards. They must pick a particular shoulder of the guard and attack to that side.
The guards’ role in the play is crucial:
Both LG and RG (left and right guard) drive through the tackles’ outside shoulders.
Their objective is to apply enough individual pressure so as not to allow the tackle to slide down the line and help his buddies inside.
Both players attempt to block the kick if they break free.
If not, they contain the opponent’s linemen in case of a fake field goal attempt. Containing means to hold their ground and simply jostle with the players who are blocking them — all while keeping their eyes on the kicker and holder.
The only chance that the middle block has of succeeding is if the pass-rush moves that the three interior defensive linemen make on the offensive linemen work. It’s critical that all three players are isolated on one blocker. The defenders can decide to double-team a blocker, hoping one of them breaks free and penetrates the line.
On other kick-block plays, teams attempt to break through from the outside, using two men on one blocker and hoping the single blocker makes the wrong choice and allows the inside rusher to get free.