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Play-action pass

A play-action pass (also known as the play fake or simply play-action) is a type of American football play. The play action appears to be a running play, but is actually a pass play; in this way, it can be considered the opposite of a draw play. Play-action passes are often used against defenses that are focused on stopping the run. By initially simulating a running play, the offense attempts to deceive the defense into acting on the fake run and being out of position in their pass coverage, giving receivers more time and room to be free to receive passes behind the linebackers.[1]

Offensive action during a play-action pass

  • The quarterback takes the snap and drops back to hand off to the running back.
  • The running back gets ready to take the handoff.
  • The quarterback quickly pulls the ball back from the handoff position, trying to hide it from the defense. He then looks down-field for an open receiver.
  • The running back continues to move up field as if he has the ball in his hands.
  • The offensive line comes off the ball to run block, but goes into pass protection soon afterward.
  • The receivers "sell" the running play by appearing to block at first, then break off into their routes.


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