Madden 21 Guide: How to Get Interceptions and Play Pass Defense

If you want to improve your ability to intercept the ball and play better pass defense, we've got your guide. Here's how to get interceptions in Madden NFL 20.

If you want to improve your ability to intercept the ball and play better pass defense, we've got your guide. Here's how to get interceptions in Madden NFL 20.
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Another year of Madden is here, and with that comes all new ways to take advantage of every on-field mechanic available to you in order to win. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to intercept the ball in Madden 21, so you can spend more time on offense looking to score  or maybe even bringing back a pick-six. We’ll also talk go over some pass defense tips, which is essential in the current pass-heavy climate of the game. 

Here’s how to pick off your opponents and ruin their drive, regardless of which mode you’re playing. These tips work in everything from Face of the Franchise to The Yard.

How to Intercept the Ball in Madden 21

If you’re only looking for the button input needed to perform an interception, let’s start there.

To intercept the ball when playing as a defender, you have to time your press of the “Y” button on Xbox or the “Triangle” button on PS4

You’ll want to be in good position to do this, and that will usually mean getting in front of the receiver.

Trying to reach over the wideout and snag the ball before they do can happen in Madden, but it’s about as uncommon as it is in the NFL. You’re much better off reading the route and jumping in front of it.

As you’ll read below, if you can’t get in such good position, there are other ways you should disrupt a play instead. Interceptions are exciting, but they aren’t always the right play to make.

Don’t forget that just like everywhere else on the field with any position, “RT/R2″ act as your sprint buttons, so if you’re getting burned, it might be because you’re just going too slow.

Advanced Pass Defense Controls

If you want to put a bit more strategy into it, you can also try using advanced defense controls like the Ball Hawk ability, though your mileage may vary with it.

Ball Hawk allows defensive backs to track the ball in the air and go for the big-time interception. The problem is, like the aggressive catchability for wideouts and other receivers, it’s a high risk/high reward tactic.

You could find yourself out of position and get burned for the big play, or a physically freakish athlete like Julio Jones could simply out leap you. In those situations, it’s better to improve your situational awareness and go for the swat instead. You can swat the ball with “X” on Xbox or “Square” on PS4.

If neither the ball-hawking pick nor the swat feels right, you may want to play the receiver himself. This means as soon as the ball is caught, you stifle the wideout to impede his ability to get any run-after-catch (RAC) yards, and you may even cause a dropped pass. To play the receiver, you press “A” on Xbox or “X” on PS4.

If you’re not controlling the defender playing the ball, they will act on their own like any other AI player on the field, and if you consistently struggle with pass coverage, it may be best to stick to playing as a linebacker or lineman. But, if you insist on playing a corner or safety and need a little help, there is hope.

By holding “LB” on Xbox or “L1” on PS4, you can activate Defensive Assist, which tells the game to course correct for you. If you’re slow off the snap or find yourself out of position, Defensive Assist hands control back to the AI and gets you back into position to make a play.

That’s all you need to know about getting more interceptions and playing lights-out pass defense in Madden 21. Many of the tips and tricks that pertained to Madden 20 also pertain to this year’s edition, so be sure to head over to our updated Madden 21 guides page for more!

About the author

Mark Delaney

Mark is a dad, husband, bicyclist, animal rights activist, and a gamer, of course. You can find him on all platforms covering co-op, indies, horror, battle royale, or whatever else he's obsessing over right now. In addition to GameSkinny, he's been published on GameSpot, IGN, GamesRadar, EGM, Escapist, Official Xbox Magazine, and a bunch of other great outlets.