A shutout in football refers to when a team is able to hold their opponents to zero points throughout an entire game.
Football is a high scoring sport which makes the act of shutting out your opponent a very impressive feat.
With the evolution of passing in the NFL it has become much harder for a defense to shut out their opponents.
Why shut outs are so impressive in the NFL
Garbage time personnel
One of the main reasons that it is so difficult to shut out an opposing team’s offense is due to the personnel that is put when a team holds a significant lead at the end of the game.
If you are about to shut a team out it is likely that your team is winning by a large margin.
When this happens this portion of the game is referred to as garbage time. In garbage time it is common for the team with the lead to sub out their starting layers.
Switching out your starters is going to give second-string players a chance to hit the field as the shutout occurs, as well as allow the starters to avoid risking injury.
Unfortunately for teams looking for a shutout the increase of backups on the field means the other team will likely be able to score.
Another reason it is so hard to shut out your opponents in football is due to field goals.
If teams were required to get a touchdown to score points in football it would make shutouts a lot more common.
This is because field goals can be attempted by teams that are only able to get close to the end zone.
At the professional level getting to your opponents, the 35-yard line is enough to allow them to kick a field goal.
Keeping the opposing team from reaching. Your thirty-five-yard line at any point during the game is quite a tough feat.
The ability to kick field goals from distance is one of the main reasons that shutouts are so difficult to pull off in football.
Another reason that shutouts are so difficult to achieve in football is due to the prevent defense.
Similar to switching personnel when a team is up by a large number of points a team will often change their scheme.
The common choice in these situations is to use a prevent defense.
A prevent defense ensures that the opposing team does not complete long plays. The idea behind this defensive scheme is to allow the offense short plays that will eat up the clock but not allow long touchdown plays.
The trouble is offense will often take what they can get and will attack this Defense with short passes allowing them to move down the field.
This strategy is not going to allow the opponents to win the game but it can easily get them into field goal range.
This sort of defensive scheme often results in the opposing offense scoring a few points late in the game.
This is yet another reason that shutouts are so rare in football.