What Does Illegal Double Team Block Mean In The NFL? (All You Need To Know!)

Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Alex PT

An illegal double-team block in the NFL is a penalty that occurs when two or more players from the receiving team block a player from the kicking team on a kickoff or punt return. The penalty for an illegal double-team block is a loss of 15 yards from the spot of the foul.

What Does Illegal Double Team Block Mean In The NFL?

In the NFL, an “illegal double team block” refers to a situation in which two offensive players simultaneously block a single defensive player during a play. The key factor that makes this action illegal is when one of the blockers initiates contact with the defender below the waist.

The NFL has specific rules to promote player safety, and blocking a defender below the waist is considered dangerous because it can lead to serious injuries. To avoid the risk of injury and maintain a fair and competitive playing field, the NFL prohibits such blocks.

Players and coaches must be aware of these rules and ensure that their blocking techniques adhere to the league’s regulations to prevent penalties and protect the well-being of all participants on the field. Violations of these rules can result in penalties, including yardage deductions or even player ejections, depending on the severity of the infraction.

The Setup Zone

If you’re a new fan of football, you may be wondering what the setup zone means. Well, we’ll talk about it at the moment. The setup zone was established by the NFL when they made some rule modifications in 2018. The setup zone starts from the line of scrimmage where the kickoff begins, and it is normally fifteen yards in length. According to the new rule, not less than eight of the eleven kick return footballers must begin the play in the setup zone. The double-team block can only be performed by these eight players in the setup zone. If any other player except for the ones in the setup zone does a double-team block, it is illegal. 

Stopping The Wedge

The NFL made intensive rule modifications to eliminate the occurrence of the wedge on kick returns. Back in those days, players run hand in hand in front of the kick returner to make the older kick returns. The term “wedge” was coined to denote the several blockers that move hand in hand. Don’t forget that the NFL established the illegal double-team rule to stop the wedge. The number of players allowed in a wedge was reduced following the new rules by the NFL from two down to three in 2009. 

We all know that the NFL did this to ensure players’ maximum safety and protection. Besides, taking down the wedge has been an effective way to take out the returner by the kicking team on kick returns. Often times on kick returns, the best strategy used by the kicking team is sending out a single player to take out the wedge. The player sent by the kicking team makes a high-speed run into the wedge, trying to knock them apart. 

Oftentimes, the wedge or the player making the run is injured due to the high impact. More of a reason why the NFL curtailed the wedge. Forming a wedge is not ideal since there’s a new rule with illegal double-team block. This simply means that zone players are no longer permitted to form a wedge with the new regulations by the NFL regarding the setup. According to the new rules, only two will end up acting as blockers because there are only three players outside the setup zone. 

The two blockers are expected to work separately to avoid being called for an illegal double-team penalty. With this, you’ll notice wedges are no longer created on kick returners. Thanks to this set of new rules and the increased touchback distance, players’ safety and protection on kick returns have been maximized. 


We’ve made a list of the frequently asked questions and answers about illegal double-team blocks in the NFL. These FAQs will help you have a deeper understanding of this football terminology. Let’s go through them! 

What Is An Illegal Crackback Block?

When a football player commits a trackback block as he makes contact below the waist, it is known to be an illegal crackback block in football. The blocked player can be seriously injured by this kind of block. A crackback block is commonly used by offensive players trying to stop defenders in their tracks while getting away with the ball. 

Is Blocking Allowed In NFL?

Yes! Players can do cut blocking in football if an offensive player isn’t engaged by a defensive player. Generally, most people see it as an unsportsmanlike technique due to its injury-inflicting nature. However, it can be a very effective tactic if done correctly. 

Is It Legal To Block A Player In The Back In Football?

No! It is illegal to block a player in the back in football. The referee will call a penalty when a player on the kicking team blocks an opposing player without the ball by making any contact above the waist. A ten-yard penalty kick will be played by the opposing team. 

Is Excessive Blocking A Penalty In Football?

Yes! Excessive blocking isn’t allowed in football. If a player is found guilty of making excessive blocking, his team will be penalized and there will be a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.

Closing Thoughts 

As we said earlier, illegal double-team blocking happens when three or more players come together shoulder-to-shoulder to block the runner of the opposing team. It is illegal if the players making the blocks aren’t from the setup zone. However, it is legal if the players making the block are from the setup zone. We’ve reached the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know an illegal double-team block in the NFL. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks.



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