Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 May 2014

Are Certain Types of Passes More Likely to be Intercepted?

Bill Connelly looks at his college football charting data from 2014 to see what we can learn about interceptions going forward.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 22 May 2014

8 comments, Last at 29 May 2014, 11:16am by Travis


by ammek :: Sat, 05/24/2014 - 11:14am

Interceptions going backward must be rare. Like, pitch the ball toward the running back, and the defender swoops in and catches it.

by tuluse :: Mon, 05/26/2014 - 1:23pm

Sometimes you see a smoke route or wheel route get intercepted where the pass goes a yard or two backwards.

It's not entirely clear if that's an interception or fumble recovery.

by Travis :: Tue, 05/27/2014 - 3:32pm

By rule, that's a fumble, not an interception. Tony Romo threw one of those against the 49ers in 2008.


by zlionsfan :: Thu, 05/29/2014 - 11:00am

In college, it's an "interception" that counts as a fumble recovery. (Am I surprised that the NCAA took a simple concept and made it complicated? No.)

The rulebook says that a backward pass or fumble caught in the air is an interception (2-4-3-e), but the statisticians' manual says that such a play should be treated as a fumble return (B.I. 5 and Section 4, Article 4), which seems obvious because otherwise you get weird things like an interception without an attempt.

I don't think there's a legal difference between recovering a ball in the air and recovering a ball after it's touched the ground, so I'm not really sure why they went there. It's enough just to remember that everyone outside Indianapolis (uh, the headquarters, anyway) calls it a fumble recovery.

by Travis :: Thu, 05/29/2014 - 11:16am

I can't be certain, but I think 2-4-3-e is a remnant of the old rules that prevented fumbles that hit the ground from being advanced, and that the NCAA never bothered to remove it once they changed those rules. (The NCAA changed the rules on advancing fumbles every offseason between 1988 and 1992.)

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 05/27/2014 - 3:43pm

Paging Aaron Brooks...

by dougenglish :: Mon, 05/26/2014 - 2:55am

Passes by Matt Schaub?

by Rivers McCown :: Mon, 05/26/2014 - 2:33pm