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The halfback option play is an unorthodox play in American and Canadian football. It resembles a normal running play, but the running back has the option to throw a pass to another eligible receiver before crossing the line of scrimmage.

The key to the play is fooling the defensive players, primarily the defensive backs. If the linebackers and/or the defensive are fooled and believe a the ball carrier is attempting a run, they will pursue the runner, abandoning their passing situation responsibilities thereby leaving pass receivers uncovered. Of course, if the defensive backs are not fooled, the running back carrying the ball does have the option to run instead of risking an incomplete pass or an interception. This play is not as popular as it once was as defensive players are expected to cover receivers until the football crosses the line of scrimmage on running plays.

The running play that halfback options usually resemble is a sweep play. Sometimes the quarterback will run out of the backfield and become a receiving option for the running back. This can be effective because the quarterback usually does very little after handing off or pitching the ball to the running back on most plays, and the defense might not be expecting him to be used as an active receiver. In the National Football League, if the quarterback starts the play under center, then he is ineligible as a receiver; the quarterback must start from the shotgun to receive a pass. (However, in other leagues, the person under the snapper is an eligible receiver, and this restriction does not apply.)[citation needed]

The halfback option play usually has limited success and is not commonly used, especially in the NFL. The play almost completely relies on the element of surprise and better coaching has resulted in defensive back being instructed to stay in coverage until the running back with the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. Another reason is that the passing ability of most running backs is usually poor in relation to the passing ability of a quarterback. However, certain teams and players do successfully run the option one to a few times a season; used sparingly it can be effective to make a gamebreaking play. Only once in modern professional football history has a halfback thrown more than one touchdown in a game: utility player Gene Mingo of the Denver Broncos threw two touchdowns as a halfback in an American Football League game against the Buffalo Bills in 1961.

The halfback option play is an integral part of the wildcat offense, which involves the halfback receiving a direct snap.

Notable instances[edit]

There have been many notable cases where the halfback option pass has been used with great success.

In Super Bowl XII, Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Richards, versus the Denver Broncos, becoming the first running back to throw a touchdown pass in Super Bowl History. QB Roger Staubach took the snap and pitched the ball to Newhouse who ran left, faking a sweep, before pulling up and throwing an absolutely perfect pass to an almost perfectly covered Richards.[2] This basically sealed the game for Dallas, and they went on to win 27-10.

  • In Super Bowl XL, Steelers wide receiver and former Indiana University quarterback Antwaan Randle El threw a 43 yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward, after taking the hand-off from tailback Willie Parker. He is the only wide receiver to throw a touchdown pass in Super Bowl history. The catch rounded-off a Super Bowl MVP performance for Hines Ward.

References[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halfback_option_play — Please support Wikipedia.
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43 news items

FOXSports.com

FOXSports.com
Wed, 29 Apr 2015 09:05:56 -0700

The following game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sayers turned a screen pass into an 80-yard score and threw for a touchdown on a halfback option play. Sayers continued to display his versatility the following week with one of his four touchdowns ...

FOXSports.com

FOXSports.com
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:15:57 -0800

The first, which came with the game tied 3-3 in the first quarter, saw Perry tackled for a loss of a yard on a halfback option play from the New England Patriots' 5-yard line. Perry would redeem himself in the third quarter, however, when he barreled ...

News & Observer

News & Observer
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:41:11 -0800

Senior receiver Raekwon Britton caught a 47-yard touchdown pass on the first Trojan possession and later threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jarvin Holder on a halfback option play at the end of the first half to push Garner's lead to 28-0. “It was ...

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report
Thu, 11 Dec 2014 22:09:50 -0800

There's nothing like an NFL game played in the snow. It can turn even a contest between two bad teams into an entertaining spectacle. With the Green Bay Packers heading to western New York to take on the Buffalo Bills this weekend, two of the league's ...

Post-Bulletin

Post-Bulletin
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 21:37:07 -0800

Schroeder was confident the halfback option play would work. "He (Schmitz) used to play quarterback," the coach said. "That was huge to get something off of that drive," Bauer said. Victory secured late. Caledonia held an eight-point lead in the fourth ...
 
ohiostate.247sports.com
Sat, 15 Nov 2014 17:16:10 -0800

Linebacker Raekwon McMillan and end Joey Bosa combined for a sack. Then, after Leidner hit Maxx Williams for a 36-yard gain, linebacker Darron Lee sacked K.J. Maye on a halfback option play. Finally, Leidner tried to go down the middle to Lincoln Plsek.
 
Buffalo News
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 09:09:59 -0700

Castronova was sensational Friday as he passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 68 yards and two scores and caught the game's first TD on a 5-yard halfback option play. The senior's efforts weren't enough to ward off the Bulldogs. “You have ...

SportsBlog.com (blog)

SportsBlog.com (blog)
Sun, 28 Dec 2014 07:40:54 -0800

But the Giants defense stiffened when linebacker Cliff Livingston's tackle of Ameche for a three yard loss on a halfback option play on 4th down caused the Colts to turn the ball over. The game began to turn in the Giants favor. From their own 5-yard ...
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