ITP Glossary: Fire Call

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From scramble drill to sugaring the A gap, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Fire Call

A fire call is made by the holder on field goals or extra points in the event of a bad – or bobbled – snap that makes a successful kick impossible. The holder pulls the ball off the turf, generally yelling “Fire!” or a variation thereof. On this call, the outermost players on the offensive line run routes into the flats on each side to give the holder an opportunity to complete a forward pass.

The fire call is, at its core, an attempt to salvage a broken play. While NFL long-snappers and holders are nearly flawless in their execution, there will occasionally be off-target or bobbled snaps. If the holder judges that he cannot get a competent hold down for his kicker, his responsibility is to pull the ball in and make a fire call.

One such example occurred in 2014 in a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens on a botched extra point attempt:Pittsburgh-Steelers-Brad-Wing-Fumble-Baltimore-Ravens-watermarked


Brad Wing, the Steelers holder, bobbles the snap and traps it against the ground. Wing immediately recognizes his mistake and makes the fire call:Pittsburgh-Steelers-Brad-Wing-Pass-Baltimore-Ravens-4-WM

Wing tucks the ball, likely yelling “Fire!” in the process. This immediately triggers the play for the two outermost members of the offensive line, Matt Spaeth (#89) and Jason Worilds (#93):Pittsburgh-Steelers-Brad-Wing-Pass-Baltimore-Ravens-5-WM

Wing rolls out to his right, with Spaeth making his run into the flat as anticipated. Worilds unfortunately abandons his responsibilities on the other side of the line, but with Wing rolling right, it does not make a difference in the outcome. The Baltimore safety on the play, Albert McClellan (#50), is still staring into the backfield at the moment, rather than covering Spaeth.

Spaeth continue his move into the flat, with McClellan finally reacting:Pittsburgh-Steelers-Brad-Wing-Pass-Baltimore-Ravens-6-WM

However, it is too late, as Spaeth is able to sneak in to complete the unexpected two-point conversion.

Chuck Zodda contributed to this entry.

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Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking down matchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

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