Flag on the Play: Intentional Grounding

Intentional grounding is a penalty against the offense. The penalty is created by the passer which is almost always the Quarterback. This penalty is designed to keep the Quarterback from throwing the ball just to avoid a negative play.

The space behind the offensive line that surrounds the Quarterback is called the pocket. The “pocket” is often defined as the space from one Offensive Tackle to the other Offensive Tackle. The Offensive Line creates this pocket of space for as long as possible to give the Quarterback time to figure out which person he’ll throw the ball to. When a Quarterback stands inside the pocket, behind the line of scrimmage and throws the ball in an area where there is not a receiver to catch the ball it is considered Intentional grounding.

The penalty for intentional grounding is pretty severe. The offense gets a 10 yard penalty plus they lose a down. Losing a down means the offense loses a chance to get the first down.

The penalty is worse if the passer is inside the end zone when the intentional grounding happens. In this case the penalty is a safety. The other team gets two points and receives the ball on the next possession.

Here’s an example of an intentional grounding penalty inside of the end zone:


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