A trick play in football in which the quarterback drops back for a pass gripping the ball with both hands, fakes a throw with one hand to one side of the field, and as his hands come back down, secretly hands the ball off to a running back crossing behind him, who then runs to the opposite side of the field.
The “Statue of Liberty Play” is so named due to the position of the quarterback’s hands during the fake. If done correctly, the quarterback’s pump-faking hand should be in the air, while the other is positioned at his side.
Being a trick play that requires a good amount of coordination and patience, the Statue of Liberty is risky and seldom succeeds. In order for the play to work, the quarterback has to be skilled enough at both the pump-fake and concealing the football during the handoff, while the running back has to be equally skilled at deception and speed. The play primarily banks on surprise, betting that the defense will bite on the fake and take too long in recovering to react to the ball. When it succeeds, the Statue of Liberty can gain significant chunk yardage, but the strict timing and chance for miscues or fumbles makes it incredibly risky and rarely seen in the game.
Arguably the most famous modern use of this play came in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, when the Boise St. Broncos made a game-changing two-point conversion using the “Statue Left” against the Oklahoma Sooners.