Football 4th And Inches

Football 4th and Inches

When a football team reaches fourth down, it is typical for the offensive team to punt or, if close enough, attempt to make a field goal. However, a situation of fourth and inches can often call for the offense to try for a first down since there is less than a foot between the line of scrimmage and the first down line.

What is 4th and Inches in Football?

In football, fourth and inches is when the offense is on fourth down and has less than a foot to the line to gain. Fourth and inches is similar to other fourth-down situations in that it is the offense’s last down in the cycle of downs. However, the short distance to the first down line makes for some special strategy considerations on fourth and inches. Let’s look at the three options the offense has to choose from on fourth and inches:

Punting the Ball on 4th and Inches

On fourth and inches, the offense can elect to punt the ball, just as they would on fourth and 10. This is the safest play option and is typical of a team far into their half of the field. If a team does not want to take a risk in the game, or does not need to take a risk, this would be the best option for them.

Kicking a Field Goal on 4th and Inches

Football Field Goal

If the offense is within field goal range on fourth and inches, they may elect to kick a field goal and obtain three points. This is a good option for teams not looking to take much of a risk on their play call, especially if they are in field goal range. However, if the offense misses the kick, the opposing team will get the ball from their line of scrimmage on first down.

Going for It on 4th and Inches

If a team elects to go for it on fourth and inches, they are attempting to get a first down and continue with their offensive drive. Teams who choose to go for it typically run a short run play or have the quarterback attempt to run the ball over the first down line on his own. Running plays are less risky and more successful than throwing plays in this situation. Offenses in the NFL convert fourth and inches at a success rate of as much as 75 percent!

Teams will most often go for it on fourth and inches in a close game or toward the end of the game, as it is the riskiest of the options available to them with the highest possible reward. If the team does not achieve the first down, the opposing team will get the ball from wherever the play ends up stopping.

4th and Inches Defense

If the offense elects to go for it on fourth and inches, the defense has to be prepared to stop them from reaching a first down. Most defenses will prepare for a run play, especially down the middle of the field, but will be prepared for any of the quarterback’s audibles. More often than not, the offense will convert on 4th and inches, but a well-prepared defense can stop a large yardage gain from happening.