What are the pass interference rules on a quarterback throwing a pass to self?

Sports Asked by Coach-D on February 13, 2021

This may be a bit unanswerable but seeing if the community can come up with any historical conversations or rules.

We have a quarterback boot we put into the playbook. The wide receivers are trips right and clear out the defensive backs on that side – if they don’t one of them is wide open. That leaves at most the defensive end and an outside linebacker somewhat unaccounted. Based on running the play we feel that our tackle will block the end almost all of the time.

That leaves our quarterback one on one with an outside linebacker – literally the only receiver on that side of the field will be 25-30 yards deep. For fun during one of our scrimmages I had quarterback throw a 15 yard lob to himself. The play was very successful because once he rolled and felt the OLB come up hard he threw the ball and the OLB was well out of position.

But that beckons, can this be countered with the OLB just holding the QB after the throw? At what point could the OLB hit/hold the QB? Is there any rule to cite when talking to the refs before the game about the play (I am a ref too so it would be common to talk to the refs about a trick play before we run it) to get them to get their flags ready after my QB takes off for the ball that he threw?

One Answer

When you say "lob," are you saying that he throws the pass in a very very high vertical arc, so that the passer has plenty of time to get under it before it comes back down (as opposed to a tipped-ball situation)?

In that case, at least under NFL rules pass interference restrictions would apply as normal, once the passer-receiver gets at least one yard beyond the LoS (strictly speaking, it's the violator that has to be at least one yard beyond the LoS, regardless of where the fouled individual is located; but as a practical matter they're going to be really really close to one another):

From the NFL rulebook:

Section 5 - Pass Interference Article 1. Definition

It is pass interference by either team when any act by a player more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders an eligible player’s opportunity to catch the ball. Pass interference can only occur when a forward pass is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage, regardless of whether the pass is legal or illegal, or whether it crosses the line.

Defensive pass interference rules apply from the time the ball is thrown until the ball is touched.

Of course, for it to be a legal pass, he'd have to be behind the line, where there is no pass interference--though defensive holding, defenseless player, and roughing-the-passer rules would of course still apply.

Answered by Kurt Weber on February 13, 2021

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