What Does “TFL” Mean In American Football?

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What is a Tackle For Loss? 

A tackle for loss (TFL) occurs when a defensive player tackles an offensive player behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of yards. It does not necessarily mean that the ball carrier was tackled directly; if he was stopped from advancing further than he would have otherwise been able to, this is still considered a tackle for loss.

A “TFL” can also be referred to as a “sack,” though technically, this term applies only when the ball carrier is sacked. 

How Is The Statistic Calculated? 

The statistic itself is calculated by adding together all the tackles made by each defender minus any sacks they made throughout the game. The total number of tackles made by each defender determines their TFL rating; i.e., if they made five tackles and no sacks, they would have a rating of 5 TFLs.

Of course, this rating can fluctuate depending on sacks made and any other defensive plays that result in lost yards, such as interceptions or fumbles caused by defenders. 

Why Is It An Important Statistic? 

The importance of TFLs lies in their ability to measure how effective a particular defense has been in stopping opposing offenses from gaining yardage. Generally speaking, teams with higher TFL ratings are more successful at limiting their opponents’ offensive production than those with lower ratings. Therefore, they tend to fare better during games and throughout seasons.

Also, Individual defenders who are adept at making tackles behind the line of scrimmage are often more highly sought after. This is due to their ability to disrupt opposing offenses and limit their success rate on drives downfield. 


In conclusion, understanding what the acronym “TFL” means and how it is calculated can help casual fans and experienced analysts gain insight into how successful a team’s defense has been over time. By understanding TFLs, football fans can gain insight into which teams have successfully defended against opponents and which individuals have been most effective at disrupting offensive drives downfield.

Knowing this statistic can also help coaches identify which players should be given more opportunities based on their performance against opposing offenses throughout previous games or even entire seasons.