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Football Loss Of Yards

Football Loss of Yards

A loss of yards in football is a phrase used to describe when the ball carrier on offense is tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Loss of yards can also occur when the quarterback is sacked before the ball is released or when the offense commits a penalty.


Types of Yard Loss

There are three main types of yard loss in football. Each type is outlined below:

Tackle Behind the Line of Scrimmage

The ball carrier is taken down behind the line of scrimmage (the invisible line that starts where the ball is snapped and extends across the field).

Quarterback Sack

The quarterback is taken to the ground behind the line of scrimmage before being able to throw a pass.

Loss Of Yard Penalties

  • False start: An offensive lineman or receiver moves/flinches before the ball is snapped (loss of 5 yards)
  • Holding: An offensive lineman is caught grabbing the jersey of a defender (loss of 10 yards) and impeding the opposing player's progress as a result
  • Illegal motion: An offensive player relocates to a new spot on the field and fails to get set prior to the ball being snapped (loss of 5 yards)
  • Intentional grounding: the quarterback attempts to avoid a sack by throwing the ball out of bounds (the ball does not make it back to the line of scrimmage where the play began) or throwing the ball away from the general vicinity of a receiver (loss of 10 yards)
  • 12 or more players are on the field or in the huddle before the play (loss of 5 yards)
  • Delay of game: The offense fails to snap the ball within 40 seconds of the previous play ending (loss of 5 yards)
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct: A player is caught performing inappropriate gestures, taunting the opposing team or hitting an opposing player after the referee signals that play has stopped (loss of 15 yards)

How Yard Loss Affects the Game

Losing lots of yards throughout the course of a football game makes it extremely difficult to win by increasing the number of yards the offense needs to move down the field in order to achieve first downs and keep possession of the ball. This forces the offense to throw the ball more frequently, preventing them from striking a balance between running plays and passing plays and making the offense easier to defend as a result.