A Crackback Block or a Peel-Back Block, as described by the NFL, is a block used in American Football. They are forceful blocks that are usually used by skill position players to allow the carrier space to continue moving forward with the ball.
This is a regulated block and blocks are only considered legal if they are done between the shoulder and the waist. A 15-yard penalty may be called if this block is done illegally.
It is often an explosive block that is sometimes delivered with as much force as a tackle. Often a crackback block will take a defender out of play entirely.
What is a Crackback Block?
A crackback block is a block delivered by a player that is usually positioned wide and near the sidelines. The blocker will run back to the center of the formation after the snap and block off a defender.
This gives the runners space and time to help them gain yardage.
Unlike a traditional block, crackback blocks do not usually happen at the line of scrimmage. They instead usually happen in the open field.
Most defenders won’t be aware that a crackback block is coming their way because their focus will be on catching up with the ball carrier.
Wide receivers are usually the ones doing crackback blocks because they have the most opportunity to do so.
Crackback blocks can also happen on kickoffs, punts, and interception returns.
These are classified as blindsided blocks.
Are Crackback Blocks Illegal?
Most football leagues consider blindsided blocks like the Crackback Block, illegal.
The NFL rulebook refers to the Crackback Block as a Peel Back Block.
The rule is listed as follows:
“An offensive player cannot initiate contact on the side and below the waist against an opponent if:
- The blocker is moving toward his end line; and
- He approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.”
Youth Football and College Football Ruling
Crackback Blocks are illegal in both Youth Football and College Football. They are categorized under blindsided blocks.
For both the NFHS and College Football bodies, a 15-yard penalty may be applied if this block is performed.
Crackback Blocks in the NFL
This block is legal in the NFL but it must be made between the waist and shoulders.
It is also only legal if the blocker is not moving towards parallel or his end-zone.