A goal-line stand refers to a series of plays in which the defense is able to stop the opponent from scoring a touchdown after they run multiple plays near the endzone. A goa line stand will result in the opponent kicking a field goal or giving up possession of the ball.
Goal-line stands tend to occur when the line of scrimmage is within the ten yard line. This means the opponent cannot advance the ball for a first down. At this point, they will have three or four attempts at scoring the touchdown depending if they want to kick a field goal or not.
When a team attempts several plays from the area and walk away without a touchdown this is considered a goal-line stand.
Where Does The Term Goal Line Stand Come From?
The goal line refers to the line which designates the start of the endzone. When a team makes a stand it refers to the military use of the term “last stand”.
A last stand refers to a situation in the military in which a body of troops attempts to hold a defensive position against insurmountable odds.
The goal-line stand is of course a little different as the offensive team only scores touchdowns about sixty per cent of the time when in the red zone. Though remember a goal-line stand refers to not just the red zone but when the defenders are backed up near their own goal line.
Why Do They Seem So Common?
If you often watch football on television you may have noticed those long drives that always seem to come up short in the endzone.
These drives often make it look like the offense has no problem moving the ball across the field. Then all of a sudden once they are near the endzone they stall out. There is actually some reasoning behind this and it centers around the defensive strategy.
Often times teams use zone coverage on defense in order to stop the opponents passing game. This means instead of covering a specific player you cover an area on the field.
As you are pushed closer and closer towards your end zone the amount of field you have to cover grows smaller.
By the time the defense is on their own goal line the amount of field they have to cover is quite small. This gives each player an even smaller zone to cover on each play. This ultimately makes it much more difficult for the offense to find holes in the zone coverage.
For this reason, you will often see defenses fail to stop a team outside of their redzone. And then suddenly shut them down once they are close to their goal line. This is especially common with bend but don’t break defenses.
What Plays Will The Offense Use?
When it comes to running an offense this close to the goal line there are a few plays that are often utilized. Below we will break down some of the most common offensive plays run near the goal line and what a defense can do to stop them.
The fade route is a receiving pattern this is almost exclusively used when lined up close to the goal line.
On this route a team is going to take their best jump ball receiver and line him up out wide.
Being so close to the goal line the defense is going to have a large number of players close to the formation in order to stop the run. This usually leaves the outside receiver in a one on one matchup against the cornerback.
The receiver will then try and receive a small amount of seperation at the line and then run towards the closest corner of the endzone. The quarterback will then throw up a jumpball ideally towards the receivers outside shoulder.
At this point the receiver turn towards the quarterback and jump up for the pass.
The goal line fade is a popular play but its success is largely dependent on the quality of the receiver and the cornerback. This play truly creates a one on one matchup and allows for them to fight for the ball.
On the defensive side you want to make sure your best corner is covering the receiver that may get the fade pass. This way you can be sure that the defense will be prepared if the fade route is thrown.
Another common play used when close to the goal line is the qb sneak. This play tends to only be used when a team is within a yard or two of the goal line.
The quarterback sneak is a play in which the quarterback will get the ball via the snap then immediately attempt to progress the ball with a run up the gut.
The quarterback on this play is going to rely on his offensive line pushing back the defensive line. If this is the case the QB will simply push the back of his o-line until he finds himself in the endzone.
Alternatively quarterbacks may also jump overtop of the pile and reach out the ball on plays like this. A goal line defense is going to need a lot of strength and awareness in order to stop a play like this.
The key to stopping a qb sneak is by getting a good push from the defensive line. If they are able to push the offensive line backwards it will be very difficult for the quarterback to gian yards.
If the quarterback atttempts to reach the ball over top of the pile a defender needs to be ready to swat the ball away. This can potentially cause a fumble, and with the ball being this close to the defenses foal line this can be a massive play for the defense.
Crossing routes are another play you are going to see used by the offense near the goal line. These routes involve playes running receiving patterns horizontally across the field.
Since the defense is backed up into their endzone this is going to result in a lot of traffic for the defense to sort through.
These crossing routes can somtimes create natural picks in the endzone resulting in an open receiver. In order to stop this from happening the defense needs to have clear communication and awareness to be sure no player ends up wide open in the endzone.