The purpose of a pass is to gain yards and get closer to the end zone. A pass has to be thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, and the football is thrown to a receiver who starts on the line of scrimmage and runs downfield. Although passes are usually thrown by the quarterback, anyone could technically throw the ball. Certain uncommon trick plays allow a receiver or running back to complete a pass to another player. For the pass to count, the receiver has to maintain possession of the ball with 2 feet in play in the NFL.
REMINDER: College football has different rules for a completed pass. They only require a receiver to have 1 foot in play for the catch to count.
If the receiver drops the ball, then the pass is considered incomplete and the play is dead. If the player catches the ball, they can run towards the end zone until they are tackled.
A quarterback throws the ball to his or her receivers, who run in specific patterns called routes. Routes are ways that a quarterback and his or her receivers can be on the same page, and a way to shake a defender.
Types of Passing Routes
Penalties associated with passes can be very costly in football. Pass interference is the most common, which is not allowing the opposition to make a play on the ball. They can be against either the offense or the defense.
Defensive Pass Interference
Defensive PI is when a defensive player illegally disrupts a receiver before the ball arrives. If defensive pass interference is called, the ball will be placed at the spot of the foul and a first down will be given. This means that no matter where the line of scrimmage is, the ball will move to where the foul occurred. This can really hurt a defense in certain situations. For example, if pass interference is called 60 yards downfield, the ball will be moved 60 yards.
Offensive Pass Interference
Although less common than defensive PI, offensive PI is when an offensive player doesn't let the defender make a play on the ball. If an offensive PI is called, the ball is moved 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and the down is replayed.