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Trick Plays in American Football: Game-Winning Gambits
They might not happen in most games, but trick plays are some of the most exciting moments in football. Learn about some celebrated trick plays with Groupon’s examination.
Sometimes in life, being lucky is better than being good. And sometimes in football, being deceptive is better than both. Trick plays capitalize on this logic, using unconventional strategies and formations to catch the opposition off guard. It’s a high-risk, high-reward approach: if a trick play works, it really works, resulting in huge yardage gains or even a touchdown, but if it doesn’t, the consequence can be a devastating loss of yards or an offensive turnover. Because of such uncertainty, trick plays are rarely used, but when they do happen, it makes for some of the most exciting—and memorable—moments in sports.
On the final play of their 2007 bowl game, the Boise State Broncos deployed the Statue of Liberty, a ruse in which the quarterback drops back to pass and fakes a throw, sliding the ball behind his back to a teammate sprinting behind him. If all goes as planned—as it did for the Broncos, who scored the game-winning touchdown on the play—the defense gets caught out of position, leaving nothing but open space in front of the ball carrier. Similar smoke and mirrors were used during the 1984 college championship game, when the Nebraska Cornhuskers ran what’s known as the fumblerooski. Quarterback Turner Gill received the snap, but immediately—and unbeknownst to the Miami defense—placed the ball on the ground. Nebraska lineman Dean Steinkuhler inconspicuously snatched up the ball and ran into the end zone, celebrating the subterfuge. The play has since been banned in college football, though it had already been outlawed at the professional level since the 1960s.