What Is A Busted Play In Football – 2 Main Causes

A busted play in football occurs when the offense is unable to complete the plan they had put in place for that offensive play. There can be multiple reasons which cause a play to be busted.

The only criteria involved for a play to be considered busted is that the offense is not able to execute the play in the manner they want.

Busted Play Example

An example of a busted play could occur with a bubble screen to a receiver. On these plays, the quarterback should only take one step and then quickly throw the ball out to the wide receiver for a short pass.

If the quarterback fumbles the snap it would be considered a busted play. Even if the quarterback is able to pick it up he will no longer be able to make his throw at the proper time.

This means the quarterback no longer has his intended receiver and must find a way to advance the ball without a game plan.

What Causes Them

There are many different factors that can cause a busted play but the biggest causes are miscommunications and disruptive defenders.


Misscominications are a major cause of busted plays and usually occur when the intended receiver makes a mistake. Passing plays require a receiver to be in a specific location on the field at a specific time.

When the intended receiver runs the wrong route it throws off the play entirely. As the quarterback looks to the location on the field he will find there is no receiver there.

At this point the quarterback is forced to find his way out of the situation by carrying the ball or finding another receiver.

Disruptive Defenders

Disruptive defenders are another common cause of broken plays. If you play is focused on a specific player all it takes is one defender to foil your plan.

Let’s use the bubble screen as an example. A cornerback could simply run in between the quarterback and the receiver right off the snap. This happens from time to time if the cornerback reads the play.

If the cornerback takes this position then the quarterback can no longer make the pass. Since the intention of the play has been disrupted it is now considered broken. As quick passes like this often do not have second or third receivers to throw to.

What To Do

Broken plays are a part of football. No matter how much you prepare they will happen some time or another. This means a quarterback and receivers should know what to do when a broken play occurs.

These situations are never ideal but when a play breaks down you still have a few options at your disposal.

Tuck It And Run

If your team has a mobile quarterback oftenties the best option on a broken play is to run with the ball. Running with the ball presents a relatively low risk option that will in most cases pick up a couple yards.

Sometimes through the confusion, these quarterback runs can result in huge gains and even touchdowns.

Work Receivers Back To The Quarterback

If the intended route is busted for one reason or another. It is best to find a new option for the quarterback. Oftentimes the best way to do this is to have the receivers work back towards the quarterback.

This will allow the quarterback to know the direction his receivers plan on heading and also present opportunities for shorter lower risk passes.

Though this isn’t a great solution to broken play it can often gain you back a few yards.

Throw It Away

Throwing the ball away on a broken play is likely the smartest and most commonly used option. When your receiver fails to run his route in one way or another quarterbacks are often left with little to no options.

Throwing the ball away allows the team to mitigate their losses on the play. Though you will lose a down the team will not have to worry about losing yards or potentially turning the ball over.

That’s all on busted plays in football learn about trick plays or how to get free plays in American football.

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