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Can you pass the ball backwards in the NFL? What famous examples are there?

Philip Marsh
Can you pass the ball backwards in the NFL? What famous examples are there?Getty
Some of the best plays in NFL history have included a backwards pass.

When the ball is thrown in an NFL game, more often than not it is thrown foward by the team in possession's quarterback.

However, teams in the NFL are able to throw the ball backwards, often referred to as a lateral pass, and the rules which apply to forwards passes are not the same.

DAZN takes a look at the backwards pass, the rules surrounding it and some famous examples.

What is a backwards pass?

Put simply, a backwards pass in the NFL is one which is thrown exactly sideways or behind the quarterback at the point of release.

These types of thrown are most commonly seen when a quarterback opts to throw to a running back or if a team attempts a flea flicker, whereby an running back takes a hand off before throwing the ball back to the quarterback.

Any player on the field can attempt a backwards pass.

What rules apply to a backwards pass?

Balls thrown backwards in the NFL are less common because they carry a greater risk.

If a backwards pass is incomplete the ball is still live and can be recovered by either team, making the catch of a backwards pass vitally important.

There is also no limit on the number of backwards passes which can be made in any one play, unlike forward passes which are limited to one per play.

A direct snap from to a player in the backfield, a muffed hand-to-hand snap or a snap that is untouched by any player are deemed to be backward passes and as a result the ball remains live.

If a backwards pass misses its receiver and goes out of bounds, the next play will be marked from where the ball left the field of play - unlike a forwards pass which would just be ruled incomplete.

Which famous backwards passes have there been?

Backwards passes, or plays which contain more than one, more often occur on the final play of a game when the team in possession is trailing by one score and needing a touchdown.

Usually these types of plays are broken up quickly, but sometimes they can lead to memorable game-winning plays.

One of the most famous recent examples has since been nicknamed 'The Miracle in Miami' as the Miami Dolphins made two backwards passes on the final play of the game to stun division rivals New England Patriots.

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The legendary wide receiver Randy Moss pulled off one of the greatest backwards passes of all time back in 2003.

Unlike the 'Mircale in Miami' this improvised play came to end the first half as the Minnesota Vikings scored against the Denver Broncos.

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And not all backwards passes have to come at the end of a half for a score.

Here is current Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce making a play which, as the commentators describe it, is "sick".

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