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In American football, a counter run is a running play in which the running back will take a step in the opposite direction of the play, only to get the handoff in the other direction. Weak side linemen will sometimes pull and lead the back downfield (sometimes called a counter trap), but not necessarily. The play is designed to get the defense to flow away from the action for a few steps, allowing better blocking angles for the offensive line, and more room for the running back. The purpose of the counter run is to keep defenses honest and prevent them from easily being able to pursue the play aggressively. It is most effective against defenses that tend to overpursue and can be used on its own to potentially produce a big running play against defenses that get out of position and fail to stay home.
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