Two completely unrelated football questions.

  1. When a coach challenges a play, do they have to state why they are challenging? Do they have to pick one reason? You usually hear things like “challenging the play on the basis that the receiver stepped out of bounds” or “the runner was down by contact before the ball came loose.” Can they challenge a fumble on the grounds both that the runner was already down, and if it was a fumble that it was recovered by his team or it went out of bounds, etc.

  2. Can you throw a pass to yourself? One night while watching ridiculous college football plays, someone said they wouldn’t be surprised if the QB just threw the ball straight up in the air and let everyone else sort it out. Of course, that brought up the conversation of what would happen if the QB threw the ball up in the air and then caught it and ran it. Would it still be call a pass? Would it even be allowed?

  1. I think the challenge is to challenge any and all aspects of the play. It could be whether the fumbled occurred before contact with the ground, whether the ball was actually recovered by the defense, and where the ball should be spotted, what the clock should read, etc.

  2. Yes, it usually happens when the ball is thrown forward, deflected by a defensive line man back to the quarterback, who can then run with it where he likes. The quarterback doesn’t usually get too far though. I believe it is illegal for the QB to attempt a second forward pass, though.

  1. In pro football, a T-formation quarterback is an ineligible receiver, and so cannot pass to himself unless the ball is tipped first by an eligible receiver or a defender. From the shotgun, or at any time in college football, I don’t see anything to prevent a direct pass to one’s self. I’ve never seen one, and I can’t imagine why it would be a good idea, but I see no rule against it.

As a mindless piece of trivia, I believe that St. Brett of Favre’s first complete pass in the NFL was to himself.

I believe a coach does not have to challenge all aspects of a play unless he wants to. For example, if your defense makes an interception in which the LB is catching as he falls to the ground, then gets up untouched and runs to the end zone, extending the ball over the pylon, yet is marked at the 1, you can challenge the “break the plane” ruling without necessarily having the interception itself reviewed.

Earlier thread on whether the quarterback is an eligible receiver.

I believe you pick one aspect to challenge (to determine whether you lose a timeout) but the ref looks at the entire play and can rule on other parts of it.

I believe you are correct.

I think there was another QB a few years ago who caught a ball tipped back to him and ran it in for a TD. I can’t remember who though.

Brad Johnson, then of the Minnesota Vikings. It was a goal line play, his pass got batted back, he caught it, ran it in himself, and was officially credited as both the passer and the receiver on the play. I believe he is still the only player to ever officially throw a touchdown pass to himself.

That is it. He did it in 1997.

Well, stretching my imagination, I thought of a QB on a roll-out or scramble, with only one defender in the area. The defender is directly downfield of the QB and moving towards him, and will certainly make the tackle even though the QB has some momentum downfield.
In this case, the QB could lob the ball over the defender, in order to run around him, make the catch and continue downfield. The QB would be hoping that either the defender or the referee decide that tackling the QB while the ball is in the air is pass interference (if the defender decides it would be a penalty and does nothing, the QB gets to make the catch; if he does get tackled the referee then has a chance to decide that it’s PI). Worst case scenario, the defender just gets in the QBs way without tackling him, and the referee calls it a legal (within 5 yards of the LOS) checking the receiver.

Is there an element to the rules that I’m missing that makes this analysis incorrect?

Not to the rules, so much as plausibility. A thrown football moves a whole lot faster than a running quarterback (especially if he has to “run around” a defensive back, as you describe). Unless the QB’s “lob” has a pretty seriously high arc, there’s simply no way he’d be able to get to it before it hits the ground (and, thus, it’d give other defenders quite a bit of time to get to the place where it’s going to land, as well).

Unless he started out in the shotgun, the QB would still be an ineligible receiver, and I’m not sure if there’d be pass interference called in this situation.

The “five yards beyond the line of scrimmage” for legal contact only applies before a pass has been thrown; once the ball is in the air, it’d be a pass interference situation (or not).

Regardless, it’d be a foolish play for the QB. If he’s flushed from the pocket, and has no open receiver, he’ll throw it away – as long as he’s outside of the “tackle box”, and the pass makes it past the line of scrimmage, it won’t be called as intentional grounding.

Did anyone ever do this as a kid? Like you know if you didn’t have many friends so you were playing against just one other guy, so when you wanted to pass you’d throw it up and catch it yourself?

Imagining that during a serious game gives me the giggles. I’d like to see it just for grins.

One hell of a play for fantasy football.

Steve Young did it as well. I forget the year and opponent but I recall it being a very high profile game, maybe even playoffs.

To the OP:

  1. The coach doesn’t have to specify what he’s challenging. Plays are reviewed for all their merits when they are reviewed under all circumstances. There have been a few occasions where a coach challenged a play and the outcome was actually worse than the original ruling for the challenging coach. I recall one instance where a incomplete catch was reviewed and overturned to be ruled a catch but that the ball was fumbled and recovered by the other team before he was down. Coaches however often take the opportunity to plead their case to the official when they do challenge the play in order to try and bias the referee and make sure he’s looking at the thing he wants looked at especially closely. They are human after all.

  2. Yes, a QB can complete a pass to himself. It’s actually not that rare. Passes deflected at the line are caught sometimes (usually more wisely batted down) by the QB and offensive lineman.

This is incorrect. All reviews examine the entirety of the play. When the system was implemented they hammered this point home. As noted in the previous post there are occasionally unexpected outcomes when a coach challenges. In a Colts-Pats (IIRC) in the last few years Dungy disputed a call as to whether the player got his feet into the endzone, however upon review that was shown to be true but the replay also showed that the WR bobbled the ball when he hit the ground which originally no one noticed.

Coaches don’t get to pick and choose aspects to review. They will lobby their case, and refs tend to communicate the reasoning to the crowd, but they are mandated to consider all possible aspects of the ruling.

I have many times tossed a ball in the air as I was running and then caught it again (that’s why I specified ‘lob’). I wasn’t saying it was likely of course, just possible.
But in the situation I was talking about, I argue it does make sense to attempt. Obviously, the QB would have to be sure that no other defender is in position to intercept the ball, but one defender with a lot of open field behind isn’t that unusual on a scramble/roll-out. It’s a little harder to be sure the defender would tackle the QB, while also being sure that the defender wouldn’t be able to stop, turn around and get to the ball, but it’s not inconceivable that a QB could be sure enough of this to make a self-pass the best play (say, a good defender running upfield towards a QB running downfield who doesn’t have Vick-like moves).
Of course, if I were a coach, there are lots of things I’d rather my QB spend time doing instead of learning details of when a self-pass is legal, so I’m not saying this is a play we should ever expect a QB to make given finite mental capacity, but there is a plausible situation where it is the best play.

That would be one amazing play to see, for sure. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it seems highly highly unlikely to occur. Mr. Perfect was able to catch one of his own passes though, so why not a QB in a game? :wink: