Football Pass Rush

What is a Pass Rush in Football?

A pass rush in football is when defenders attempt to tackle or disrupt the quarterback before he can throw the ball on a passing play. The ultimate goal of a good pass rush is to sack the quarterback which usually leads to a large loss of yardage. However, putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback can also lead to poorly thrown balls, resulting in possible interceptions.


The pass rush on an average passing play will feature four defenders coming at the quarterback. These lineman use tactics such as bull rushing or outside speed runs to get past their offensive counterparts. The key to a good pass rush is limiting the amount of time the quarterback has. Not only does this make it harder for the offense, but easier for their defensive teammates in coverage.

If there is a long distance to go to reach a first down then it is common for defenses to only have three pass rushers so they can have an extra person in coverage.


Blitzing is the most effective form of pass rush, but also comes with the most risk. A blitz is any rush where more than four defenders are tasked with getting at the quarterback. Blitzes are designed to attack from all over the field, such as a linebacker down the middle or a cornerback out of coverage.

Blitzes lead to the most fumbles and interceptions as the QB has much less time to throw the ball, but since there are less defenders to cover the receiver it allows for bigger plays if a pass can be completed successfully.

Notable Players

Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor are two of the greatest pass rushers of all time, accumulating 198 and 132.5 sacks respectively. They had the unique ability to fluster the quarterback with their mere presence on the defensive line.