Skip to Content

What Is A Sack In Football? Explained

The sack in American football is one of the most exciting plays in the game. Not only does it set the offense back, but it also hypes the defense up. What is a sack on defense?

A sack in football is when a defensive player tackles the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage while he tries to pass the football.

In this article, we will show you more about the term sack and how it’s used in football.

Football ToolsLink
TemplatesGo To Templates
CoursesGo To Courses
BooksGo To Books

Sack In American Football

The sack in American football is one of the most exciting plays, especially when the game is nearing the end. The term comes from Hall Of Fame defensive lineman Deacon Jones.

Deacon coined the phrase sack, which led to a league-wide stat of tackling the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.

According to an interview with Deacon Jones, the term sack comes from how a city felt when it was sacked. He related this term to how an offense feels after an offense gets sacked.

Sacks are important because the defensive line (often three or four defenders) can pressure the quarterback. Frequent pressure on the quarterback is important because it affects the quarterback’s timing and rhythm.

Teams who can pressure the quarterback at a high rate are often the best defenses.

Sacks can happen at any point in time on the field. Although it’s common for a defensive lineman to sack the quarterback, any position at any point can sack the quarterback.

How To Get A Sack In Football

A sack in football occurs when the quarterback who drops back to pass is tackled behind the line of scrimmage.

This happens only on a pass play when the quarterback throws the ball to another receiver.

The sack often results in a loss of yards, which gives the defense an advantage. Once the offense absorbs a sack, it’s common for the team to throw the next play, which could very well end up in another sack.

It’s important to note that a sack and a tackle for loss are two different statistics.

A tackle for loss is when a running back, receiver or quarterback is tackled in the backfield during a running play. A sack is when the quarterback is tackled in the backfield on a passing play. It’s important to note the differences, as each result ends up in a loss of yards. However, they’re recorded differently on the stat sheet.

Sacks are instrumental in defending against the pass. The quarterback, offensive line, and coach feel immense pressure when the defense can get sacks on the quarterback.

Teams that can get to the quarterback and sack him are more likely to win the game. In fact, teams that can rush the passer with only 3 or 4 defenders have a better chance to cover with 7 and 8 defenders. This makes it harder for the quarterback to find open receivers.

Pass Rush Moves To Sack The Quarterback

To get a sack in football, players must use pass rush moves. As we detailed in this article, defensive players can use a wide variety of pass rush moves to beat the offensive line.

Pass rush moves are essentially body movements used to get past an offensive lineman. These moves must be hit with precise timing and precision.

NFL greats like Reggie White and Dwight Freeney all had signature moves to get past an offensive lineman and sack the quarterback.

If you’re looking to learn more about how to sack the quarterback, Craig Roh created this Pass Rush Bible, which walks you through, step by step, how to sack the quarterback properly.

What Is The Difference Between A Sack and Tackle In Football?

The difference between a sack and a tackle in football has to do with the player’s football positioning. If the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage with the football in his hands, it’s a sack.

Whenever the player holding the football is brought to the ground, it’s called a tackle. Players must get player to the ground by having one knee or their body touches the ground.

Once the referee tackles a player, the whistle will blow, and the play will end. This is the basis of football. Getting players to the ground is the key to winning football games.

What Is A 0.5 Sack?

A 0.5 sack, or a 1/2 of a sack, is awarded to two players. If two players converge on the quarterback simultaneously, it will be ruled a 0.5 sack.

This means that the two players who made the tackle will be awarded a sack, but it will not be a full sack. For the sake of stat keeping, it’s easier to give a 1/2 sack to two players than having to decide who got their hands on the quarterback first.

Sack Leader Examples

0.5 sacks are just as important as regular sacks. It means the pass rush was successful, and the defense could get more than one player to the quarterback to disrupt his decision.

In leagues like the NFL, it’s common to see a defensive player with 6.5 or 7.5 sacks. This is where the 0.5 comes into play.

If more than 2 players sack the quarterback, it’s common for the stat keeper only to award the first two players actually to touch the quarterback the sack.

This is all up to the discretion of the stat keeper, as they will determine who the first 2 players to touch the quarterback are.

Keep Learning

A sack in football is one of the most exciting plays. Not only does it pump energy into the defense, the crowd, and the coaches, it keeps the offense on its toes.

Sacking the quarterback requires a relentless effort from the defense and game planning from the coach.

One of the best pass rushers the football game has seen, Deacon Jones, coined the term sack. The sack relates to how cities were sacked, which Deacon related to how the offense felt after the big play.

Sacks are game-changing for both the defense and the offense and should be pursued every time the quarterback drops back to pass.

Let’s keep learning! Our learning center is packed with information regarding techniques, schemes, and more!

If you’re looking for more in-depth breakdowns & coaching resources, visit our coaching resource page here.