ITP Glossary: Pivot Route

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From spot concept to down block, 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.

Pivot Route

The pivot route is an underneath pass pattern typically run by a slot receiver or a running back. The receiver breaks sharply across the middle, as if running a slant route, then stops and cuts back toward the sideline, parallel to the line of scrimmage. Sometimes called a whip route, this is a very effective means of attacking man coverage.

Running Back


Here, Travaris Cadet of the New Orleans Saints shows his prowess at running whip, or pivot routes:

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The second play in particular shows off Cadet’s route-running chops. By sinking his hips to sell the in cut or mini-curl, Cadet forces the mismatched linebacker to commit. Off the plant, the running back then swiftly pivots back and accelerates through his break toward the pylon for the touchdown.

Wide Receiver

The New England Patriots used the pivot route in their victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. On 1st and goal  Tom Brady’s throw sails past Julian Edelman on a pivot route:

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Seattle blitzes Brady on this next example, leaving the secondary in man coverage. As he did on the earlier incompletion, Edelman wrangles free from reserve cornerback Tharold Simon by selling the defender on the slant route before cutting outside:

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Mark Schofield & Brian Filipiak wrote this entry. Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Filipiak. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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