Welcome to Football for Dummies and Mommies

There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than watching football from the sidelines and not understanding what is happening. You feel left out when everyone else around you seems to know what is going on. The information that follows is to help all spectators (moms, grandparents, friends, cheerleaders, some dads and even a person with “blonde” colored hair) understand the basic game of football. The game of football can be extremely complicated, but I have attempted to translate the concept of the game for you in the simplest manner. Please be patient as this is a work in progress. ONCE UPON A TIME… Football as we know it, is a modified version of the game Rugby, which was invented in 1823 in England. Different versions of football have been played in the United States since the 1850’s, but it was not until 1873 that the Intercollegiate Football Association was formed to consolidate the many different rules of the game. By 1882, rules were further revised to a format that closely resembles those used in today’s game. The first professional football game was played in 1892. A little bit of trivia… present day football has more rules than any other team sport. (It’s no wonder you don’t understand what’s happening.) WHAT'S NEEDED? A football (an oval or elliptical ball streamlined for forward passing), football jersey and pants, cleats, certified helmet with chin strap and face mask, protective pads for shoulders, hips, tailbone, thighs, and knees and a mouth guard. Some players opt for an athletic supporter with cup. Unlike other forms of football played around the world, the very distinctive aspect of American football is that the players are oddly attired in helmets and padding that gives their shoulders the appearance of supermen. THE BARE BASICS! Football teams move a ball along a field using passing, catching, running, and kicking skills in an effort to score points. Points are earned by scoring a touchdown (six points), an extra point (worth one or two points), a field goal (three points), or a safety (two points). A touchdown is scored when a player carries the ball or catches the ball over the opponent’s goal line in the end zone. The team scoring the greater number of points in the allotted time wins the game. HOW LONG IS A GAME? A game is generally divided into four quarters (some youth leagues play two halves). Depending upon league rules, each quarter ranges from ten to fifteen minutes. There is a break at halftime. Usually during halftime, a team’s cheerleading squad will showcase their skills and talents (which is not as easy as it looks, but that’s another story for another time). To start a game, a coin is tossed to determine which team “kicks off” first. Teams switch sides after every quarter and each side is permitted three time-outs per half. If the game ends in a tie at the end of regulation play, teams may play a 15-minute sudden death overtime period; the team to score first wins. THE FIELD The field is a rectangle measuring a total of 120 yards long (playing field is 100 yards long) and 53 yards wide. There are stripes running across the field at five-yard intervals. The short white markings (referred to as yard markers or hash marks) are marked at one-yard intervals and help the players, officials, and the fans keep track of the ball. More trivia… all these markings form a grid pattern, hence the term "Gridiron". The numbers on the field indicate the number of yards to the nearest end zone. On each end of the playing field is the end zone which extends ten yards. Located on the very back line of each end zone is a goal post. The spot where the end zone meets the playing field is called the goal line. The yardage from the goal line is marked at ten-yard intervals, up to the 50-yard line, which is in the center of the field. After reaching the 50-yard line, the yard markers start to descend (40, 30, 20, 10) every ten yards until they reach the opposite goal line.

Each time the offense gets the ball. is called a “down”. To advance the ball. the quarterback can either throw the ball or hand it off to a teammate. PLAYERS/POSITIONS/TASKS . using the ball placed on the field or the foot of a side judge as a gauge. Substitution of players may take place any time the ball is not in play. the game of football can be extremely complicated. If a measurement is needed to determine whether the football has been brought far enough forward to warrant a first down. from the line of scrimmage. Each team has its own line of scrimmage. Every offensive play. Both teams line up over the “line of scrimmage”. GET SET… GO! Two teams of eleven players each are on the field at one time. Today.). (The term “box man” refers to a cube that once sat atop the marker and was rotated after each play to reflect the down. it earns a “first down” and the offensive team gets four more tries to gain another ten yards. the chains will be brought out to where the football is. The chain gang can be seen constantly moving up and down the field wherever the ball is placed.) All progress in a football game is measured in yards. The line of scrimmage is the imaginary line along the field where the play begins. the offensive team can either run or pass. the ball under his legs to the quarterback. separated by the neutral zone. the offense. just as they have been for more than 100 years. the other stretched 10 yards upfield. and kickoffs) and special defenses (short yardage. From there.) On first downs. Determining whether a team has moved the football the required 10 yards for a first down takes speed. However. One of the refs will pick up the chain at an exact yard line (five yard increments) on the sideline and then place it on that corresponding yard marker out on the field and then the other end of the chain will be stretched taut. To determine a first down. Unlimited substitution has caused the game to revolve around specialized units. If the offensive team successfully moves the ball ten or more yards. Each play begins with the snap and ends when the ball is dead. it seems. One end of the chains is placed on the same spot.ON YOUR MARK. The “chain gang” consists of three people: two people hold the chains and the third person (sometimes referred to as the “box man”) marks the approximate spot of the ball after each play with a down marker. the offense does not think it will reach the first down marker. long yardage. or “snaps”. If the offensive team succeeds and scores a touch down or if the offensive team fails to gain ten yards. the defense. The team in possession of the ball plays offense while the other team plays defense. 1 through 4. etc. No player is allowed to cross this line before the snap. special teams for kicking situations (punts. the box man estimates the spot. choreography and precision (and two sticks with a chain between them). it may choose to “punt” the ball. field goals. (Again. the offensive team must switch roles and possession of the football is then turned over to the defensive team. or run with it himself. after three downs. the quarterback loudly calls out a play (which is always in code) and the player in front of him (the center) passes. it has four downs (or chances) to try to advance the ball at least ten yards. At the line of scrimmage. the football will need to be located at the end of the stretched chain or beyond. The chains. a dial flips the numbers. if. The offensive team must have at least seven players on or within a foot of the line of scrimmage. are viewed as accurate arbiters of distance.

They line up wide of the offensive line toward the sidelines. Ends try to stop ball carriers from moving to the outside and also rush the quarterback on pass plays. As the teams’ primary ball carriers. Field goals are used on fourth down (when the offensive team is close to the end zone) or on any other down when time is running out. and Cornerbacks): Part of the defensive secondary. he calls the plays. . His primary job is to prevent runners from advancing through the middle of the defensive line. He “snaps” the football between his legs to the quarterback and then “blocks” the defensive line. Guards: Line up on either side of the center. and then runs. The offense consists of an offensive line. The defense consists of a defensive line and a “secondary. and run patterns to catch passes from the quarterback. Point-After-Touchdown (PAT): One point is awarded for a place kick taken from the opponent’s two-yard line (three-yard line in college). They are the last line of defense before the end zone and thus cover long running and pass plays. passes.THE OFFENSE The offensive team tries to advance the ball down the field-by running with the ball or throwing it. THE DEFENSE The defensive team tries to prevent the offensive team from advancing the football toward their end zone by employing the tackle (bringing the ball carrier to the ground). Defensive Tackles: Line up on either side of the nose guard. HE SHOOTS. They block on passing plays and try to push back the defensive line to open holes for the running backs. The offense works together to advance the ball toward the end zone. Quarterback: Stands directly behind the center.” Nose Guard: Plays directly opposite the offensive center. HE SCORES… NO WAIT. Tackles: Positioned outside of the guards on the offensive line. Defensive Ends: Positioned on either side of the defensive tackles. Tight Ends: Fill out the end of the offensive line. As the offensive leader on the field. Their main objective is to block on running plays. a backfield. takes the snap. This is awarded to a team that has just scored a touchdown if it goes through the goal posts. Linebackers: Play in the secondary behind the defensive line. or hands off the football to a running back. Field Goal: Three points are awarded for a place kick from the line of scrimmage that goes over the crossbar between the uprights of the opponent’s goal post. Safeties. Defensive Backs (Deep Backs. THAT’S NOT RIGHT! Point(s) are scored by a team in the following manner: Extra Point: A point-after-touchdown for one point is awarded for a “place kick” through the goal posts. They try to pressure and tackle the quarterback on pass plays and stop running plays up the middle. Wide Receivers (or Wide-Outs): Usually the fastest players on the team. Linebackers fill any holes that an advancing ball carrier might slip through and will also “blitz” (see glossary) the quarterback on some passing plays. They act as blockers and also as pass receivers. Center: Lines up in the middle of the offensive line. and ultimately score points by crossing the goal line and getting into the end zone. and protect the quarterback on passing plays. and wide receivers. Running Backs (Halfbacks and Fullbacks): Positioned behind the quarterback in the offensive backfield. they use speed and strength to “rush” the ball downfield.

The idea for the penalty flag came from Coach Dwight Deede of Youngstown State. or calling a time out after having already used all they were allotted by rule. but it is actually Delay of Game. starts a play at the opponent’s two-yard line (three-yard line in college) and runs or passes the ball over the goal line. What follows is a few illustrations of football gestures or signals you may see a referee do. A little trivia… this was first introduced to the NFL in 1994. Touchdown: A touchdown is worth six points when a player carries the ball across the opposing goal line. Did you know?. Two-Point Conversion: Two points are awarded when a team. .Safety: When a player carrying the ball is tackled in his own end zone after bringing the ball there under his own power. To signal that a penalty has occurred. the defense is awarded two points and receives a free kick from the offense’s own 20-yard line. such as sand or beans so it can be thrown with some distance and accuracy.. Delay of Game This may look like “I Dream of Jeannie”. This is a penalty called on a team for either letting the play clock expire before snapping the ball. PENALTIES Any violation of the rules results in a penalty and/or a loss of a down. When successful. Clipping Clipping is when a player blocks an opponent below the waist from behind. The penalty flag is a yellow cloth used to identify and sometimes mark the location of penalties or infractions that occur during regular play. having too many players on the field. The NFL first used flags on September 17. 1948 when the Green Bay Packers played the Boston Yanks. A delay of game infraction results in a five-yard penalty against the offending team. it looks just like a touchdown. the referee tosses a yellow flag on the field. It is usually wrapped around a weight. catches a pass in the opponent’s end zone or recovers a loose ball in the opponent’s end zone. Official adoption of the use of the flag occurred at the 1948 American Football Coaches rules session.. that just scored a touchdown. Prior to the use of flags. This illegal block is a personal foul and is punishable by a 15-yard penalty. officials used horns and whistles to signal a penalty.

the offense is penalized five yards. First Down First Down is the first play of every series. the offensive linemen must assume a set position. . This violation costs the defense five yards. Face Mask (No illustration Available at Time of Posting) A Face Mask occurs when a player grabs an opponent’s face mask. False Start Before the ball is snapped.Encroachment (or Offside) Not to be confused with the Macarena… Encroachment or Offside is when a player goes past the line of scrimmage and hits someone before the ball is snapped or if a player (besides the center) is in the neutral zone and crosses the neutral zone prior to the ball being snapped. If a lineman jerks his body in any way or when a player goes past the line of scrimmage without touching someone before the ball is snapped. The offense must gain ten yards or more in four downs to be awarded another first down. then it is only five yards. unless it is deemed unintentional. The resulting penalty is fifteen yards.

the penalty is five yards (10 yards in college) plus an automatic first down. It is a five-yard penalty. Illegal Use of Hands “Stop”… Illegal Use of Hands is when a player uses his hands or feet in unnecessary ways. the referee’s wrist is not injured… Holding is when a player uses his hands to impede the movement of an opponent by grabbing onto any part of his body or uniform. Illegal Motion Illegal Motion is an illegal movement when two or more offensive players are in motion at the same time before the ball is snapped. If the penalty is against the offense. It is punishable by a 15-yard penalty to the offending team. If the penalty is against the defense.Holding No. Illegal Cut Block When one player is engaged with another blocker. . it is a ten yard penalty. It is a ten-yard penalty to the offending team. a second player cannot block the first opponent below the waist.

This results in a ten-yard penalty and loss of down for the offense.Ineligible Receiver Downfield Ineligible Receiver Downfield is when an ineligible receiver catches the ball. or hinder the progress of another player attempting to catch a pass. Interference (No illustration Available at Time of Posting) A player may not bump. not to be confused with the Macarena… A penalty usually consists of some sort of loss of yardage by the offending team. grab. Intentional Grounding Intentional Grounding is when the quarterback still in the area between the tackles (in the “pocket”) and he purposely throws the ball out of bounds or into the ground to avoid taking a sack (or being tackled). It is punishable by a ten-yard penalty. It yields a yardage penalty or the ball is placed at the spot where the penalty occurred. . This violation may be called against an offensive or defensive player. Loss of Downs Again. but it can also include losing a down on certain penalties.

a Safety is when a defensive player tackles an opponent in possession of the ball in his own end zone. It is a personal foul and results in a 15-yard penalty against the offending team. Roughing the Kicker Roughing the Kicker is when a player flagrantly runs into or hits the kicker after the ball has been kicked. . The defensive team is awarded two points.Pass Interference Pass Interference is when a defensive player interferes with an offensive player who is trying to catch the ball. it is punishable by a 15-yard penalty. Safety Walk like an Egyptian?? No. Offensive pass interference results in a 10-yard penalty against the offense. A safety is one of the rarest ways to score. When a player intentionally commits a serious penalty. Personal Foul A personal foul is a foul that might cause injury to another player. Defensive pass interference awards the offensive team to place the ball at the spot of the foul and an automatic first down.

After a touchback. the ball is spotted on the offense's 20-yard line. crosses the plane of the opponent's goal line. while legally in the possession of a player who is inbounds.Time In When time has elapsed during a time out and play commences. Time Out A Time Out is when there is a break in the action requested by either team or one of the officials. Touchdown A Touchdown is a scoring play in which any part of the ball. A touchdown is worth six points. This generally occurs after a kickoff. Touchback A Touchback occurs when the ball is ruled dead on or behind a team's own goal line. or fumble. interception. punt. . and the scoring team is given the option of attempting to add one or two bonus points on the next play.

Blocking: The act of preventing a defensive player from getting to the ball carrier. WHAT’S THE WORD?? Astroturf: An artificial surface used instead of grass on many football fields. and then follow him to prevent him from catching a pass. Tripping results in a 10-yard penalty against the offending team. Ball Carrier: Any player who has possession of the ball. It is a personal foul and results in a 15-yard penalty against the offending team. Call a Play: To instruct players to execute a pre-planned play. Buttonhook: A pass pattern in which the receiver runs straight ahead several yards. Complete Pass: A forward pass to a teammate who catches the ball in the air. . after the regular season. Bump-and-Run: A technique used by pass defenders. Blitz: A play where the defensive team sends secondary players rushing towards the line of scrimmage into the backfield as soon as the ball is snapped to try to “sack” the quarterback. which often dictates its choice of plays. Backfield: The area behind the line of scrimmage. Offensive players use their arms and bodies (but may not hold an opponent) as a means to impede defenders from making tackles. taunts or otherwise acts in an unsportsmanlike manner. Controlling the Game Clock: Tactics used by an offensive team to either save or use up time on the game clock. moving them away from the path of the ball carrier.Tripping No. between two successful teams. Bomb: A very long forward pass thrown to a receiver sprinting down the field. the referee is not dancing an Irish Jig… Tripping is when a player uses his leg or foot to trip another player. Unsportsmanlike Conduct Unsportsmanlike Conduct is a dead-ball foul in which a player (in the judgment of an official). the halfback and the fullback. Bowl Game: A college football game played in late-December or early-January. where they hit a receiver once within five yards (1 yard in college games) of the line of scrimmage to slow him down. Blackout: When a regional network television affiliate is forbidden from showing a local game because it is not sold out. Beat: When a player gets past an opponent trying to block or tackle him. Audible: Verbal commands shouted by the quarterback to his teammates at the line of scrimmage to change a play on short notice. then quickly turns around to catch the pass. Backs: The running backs. Conferences: Professional and college teams are divided into groups. the National Football League (NFL) is divided into National and American Conferences.

it earns a new first down. punishable by a penalty. while bad field position is close to its own goal line. Goal Line: A line drawn across the width of the field.Cover or Coverage: To prevent a player from gaining yards. Free Kick: A type of kick taken to start or restart play after a team has scored. after taking the snap. In the National Football League (NFL) it is sub-groups within conferences. Foul: A violation of the rules of football by a team or player. Drive: Describes a series of plays an offensive team puts together to advance toward the goal in an attempt to score. which a team must cross with the ball to score a touchdown. Forward Progress: The location to which a ball carrier has advanced the ball. each team has one of four chances to gain 10 yards. . The first player to regain possession of the loose ball is said to make the recovery and his team now becomes the offensive team. Draft Choice: A player chosen by a professional sports team from a pool of college players in an annual draft. If a player wishes to become eligible. Fair Catch: When a kick returner decides to catch a punt or kickoff and not advance it. Drop Kick: A type of free kick where a player drops the ball and kicks it right after it hits the ground. Field goals are used on fourth down (when the offensive team is close to the end zone) or on any other down when time is running out. As soon as it gains those yards. a ball that a player touches to the ground in the end zone to get a touchback. If the defense recovers the fumble. it is considered a “turnover” by the team that was on offense. Down the Field: In the direction of the opponent’s goal line. Drop Back: When a quarterback. the legal arrangement that establishes ownership of a team. supported directly above the end line by a base. Extra Point: Additional point(s) can be scored by a team after it has scored a touchdown. Southern and Western Divisions. a defender follows a receiver to prevent him from catching a pass. Once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. First Down: The first chance out of four chances that a team on offense has to advance 10 yards down the field. a forward pass is not permitted. End Zone: The area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines. Good field position for a team is near its opponent’s goal line.). A ball becomes live as soon as it is snapped for the next play. Also. Division: In college football. in kick coverage. either by a point-aftertouchdown (one point) which is scored for a “place kick” through the goal posts or a two-point conversion (two points) which are scored for running or passing the ball over the goal line. In pass coverage. such as the Eastern. Teams try to kick the ball above the crossbar and between the uprights to score a field goal or extra point. Eligible Receiver: The rules allow all offensive players to be eligible to catch a forward pass except linemen and the quarterback. This includes a kickoff and a kick after a safety. Fumble: When a ball carrier loses possession by dropping the ball or having the ball knocked away before a play ends. It is worth three points. Field Goal: A place kick from the line of scrimmage that goes over the crossbar between the uprights of the opponent’s goal post. with no defenders closer than 10 yards away. even if he was pushed backwards after getting there. members of the kicking team try to prevent a long kick return. Cut Back: A sudden change in direction taken by a receiver to make it more difficult for defenders to follow and tackle him. which a team on offense tries to enter to score a touchdown. This prevents the player from being tackled by an opponent. End Line: The boundary line that runs the width of the field along each end. Forward Pass: A pass thrown by a team closer to the opponent’s goal line. it is considered an incomplete pass. he must notify the referee and stand at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage before the snap. Dead Ball: Declared by an official at the end of each down after a player has been tackled and the ball is no longer in play. Doug Flutie successfully completed a drop kick in 2005 for the New England Patriots. A team is allowed to throw only one forward pass per play and it must be thrown from behind the team’s line of scrimmage. allowing him to sign a new contract with any team that makes him an offer. Free Agent: A player whose contract with his most recent team has expired. Down: The offensive sequence of plays starting from the line of scrimmage that begins with the center’s snap and ends when the ball is dead. (When on offense. takes a few steps backward into an area called the pocket to get ready to throw a pass. If the ball is not caught. Franchise: A team. Also. Double Coverage: When two defensive players cover one receiver. Field Position: The location of a team on the field relative to the two goal lines. rarely used today. It consists of a crossbar and two uprights that extend upward from it. it is a grouping of teams where Division I contains the most competitive teams and Division III the least competitive. Northern. 10 yards inside each end line. he signals for a fair catch by raising one hand in the air and waving it. Goalpost: A tall metallic structure that stands at the back of each end zone. the state of a player who has just been tackled.

. Man-in-Motion: A single player on the offense who is permitted to move prior to the snap. Offending Team: The team that committed a foul. separated by the neutral zone. Lateral: When a player with the ball tosses a pass to a teammate backwards from the team’s line of scrimmage or parallel to it. If the team fails. Live Ball: A ball becomes live as soon as it is snapped or free kicked (as in a kickoff). Holding: A foul where a player impedes the movement of an opponent by grabbing or hooking any part of his body or uniform. Lineman: A player who starts each play within one yard of his line of scrimmage. Nickel Defense: When a team on defense brings in a fifth defensive back to replace a linebacker on the field to increase its pass coverage. Necessary Line: The imaginary line the offense must cross to achieve a new first down. Midfield: The 50-yard line. Huddle: Players gather in a circle before each down to hear instructions from the quarterback for the next play. Hang Time: The length of time a punt is in the air. or 5 yards (10 yards in college) plus a first down if against the defense. Loose Ball: A ball that is not in possession of either team. Onside Kick: On a kickoff. NFL Championship: The game held from 1933 through 1965 to decide the champion of professional football. the play is over. It occurs at the start of the game. The ball must travel at least ten yards before the kicking team can recover it.Going for It: When a team facing a fourth down decides to try for a new first down instead of punting. Incomplete Pass: A forward pass that is not caught and touches the ground. The offensive team must have at least seven players on or within a foot of this line. This foul cannot be called if the pass lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage. Kickoff: When a player kicks a ball from a tee at his own 30-yard line (35-yard line for college teams) to the opposing team. overtime. when a team makes an attempt to regain possession of the ball by kicking it only a short distance forward. Home Game: A game played in a team’s own stadium. On Downs: The term used to describe a team’s loss of possession if it fails to reach the necessary line on a fourth down play. such as after a fumble or a kickoff. He may only run parallel to the line of scrimmage or away from it. and to restart play after each score. Each team has its own line of scrimmage. It was renamed the Super Bowl in 1966. There are 32 teams in the league and it’s headquarters are in New York. Heisman Trophy: An award presented annually by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York to the best college football player in the country. the second half. which divides the length of the field in half. Intentional Grounding: A foul called against a quarterback who purposely throws an incomplete forward pass solely to avoid a sack. it is the one-yard area encompassing the line of scrimmage which separates the offense from the defense. Open Receiver: A player who has no defender closely covering him. Offside: When any part of a player’s body is beyond his line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Interception: When a forward pass is caught in the air (picked off) by a defender whose team immediately gains possession of the ball and now becomes the offensive team. Hand Off: A running offensive play where the quarterback hands the ball to a teammate. This allows its players a chance to recover the ball. field goals and extra points. Pass Patterns or Pass Routes: Pre-determined paths a receiver will follow which helps the quarterback quickly locate him so he can more easily throw him the ball. Pass Defender: A defensive player who covers an opposing receiver. Neutral Zone: The region that contains the ball as it sits on the ground before each play. players may lateral the ball as often as they want. familiarity with its surroundings and the lack of required travel a team receives by playing games in the area where it is based. No player may cross before the snap. As soon as a ball carrier or the ball itself touches out of bounds. Line of Scrimmage: It is the imaginary line along which both teams set up across on each down. Unlike a forward pass (which can be thrown only once per play). Out of Bounds: The region of the field touching or outside the sidelines and end lines. National Football League (NFL): The major professional football league in the United States. Kicker: The player who place kicks the ball on kickoffs. This foul is punishable by a penalty: 10 yards if against the offense. Home Field Advantage: The benefit of fan support. it loses possession of the ball. Pass Rush: When the defensive team rushes past the blockers in an attempt to sack the quarterback before he makes a pass. It is a foul punishable by a five-yard penalty. it can be recovered by either team. Pass Protection: When offensive players block to keep defenders away from the quarterback on passing plays. In Bounds: The region of the field inside the sidelines and end lines.

Pylon: A short orange marker located at each of the end zone’s four corners. Spot: Where the ball is placed after each play. while facing forward. Place Kick: A kick towards the goalpost for a field goal or extra point. Return: An attempt by a player who has just caught a kickoff. The defense earns two points and receives a free kick from the offense’s own 20-yard line. and on extra point attempts. Punt: When the kicker catches a snap from behind the line of scrimmage. quickly hands the ball between his legs to the quarterback. It is worth one point if it goes through the goalpost. He also communicates each play to his teammates. The time limit a team may take between plays is 40 seconds (30 seconds in college). Screen Pass: A short forward pass which is usually lofted over the heads of rushing defensemen. Single-Elimination: A tournament where a team is eliminated after one loss. It is used at the start of each half. the ball must be snapped before the clock runs down to 0. Scrambling: Evasive movements made by a quarterback to avoid being sacked. punter. The ball points in the same direction throughout its flight. He takes the snap from the center and either hands the ball to a running back to run with. drops the ball and kicks it before it touches the ground. When a ball carrier or ball touches or crosses the sideline. to mark forward progress or the place of a foul. Spike: When a player throws the ball at the ground to celebrate a touchdown or to stop the clock when there is less than two minutes to play. Safety: When a player carrying the ball is tackled in his own end zone after bringing the ball there under his own power. Pitch-Out: When the quarterback laterally tosses the ball to a running back. Play: A spurt of action that begins with a snap and ends with a dead ball. Play-Action Pass: A passing play after the quarterback has faked a hand-off. Sack: When a defensive player or players tackle the quarterback behind his line of scrimmage. after every score. Spiral: A ball that is passed or kicked with a spin on it which propels it further and with more accuracy.Personal Foul: A foul that might cause injury. Recovery: To gain or regain possession of a fumble. Rush: A running play. Succeeding Spot: Where the next play would start if no penalty was called. which is determined by an official. Point-After-Touchdown (PAT): A place kick taken from the opponent’s 2-yard line (3-yard line in college). Also called a pass rush. on field goals. Receiver: An offensive player who catches or attempts to catch a forward pass. Punting often occurs on fourth down after the first three downs have failed to result in a first down. Shotgun: To have more time to throw the ball on some pass plays. Possession: To be holding the football or in control of the football. Stiff Arm (or Straight Arm): A push in which a ball carrier uses his arm to ward off a tackler. Reading the Defense: Recognition by the quarterback of the defensive formation in which he may then call an audible to adjust the offense. Series: The group of 4 downs each team has to advance ten yards. Roll Out: When a quarterback runs parallel to the line looking for a receiver. This will result in a loss of yards for the offense. Special Teams: The group of players who participate in kicking plays. It is punishable by a 15-yard penalty. Rookie: A first-year player. or place kick holder. The ball is placed on the ground and held between the ground and a teammate’s finger or a kicking tee. punt or an interception to advance the ball the other way. the quarterback will stand several yards behind the center to catch the snap. passes it to a receiver or runs with it himself. Snap: When the center. Rushing: The use of running plays by the offense to move the ball downfield. it is considered out of bounds. Playoffs: The post-season tournament that determines the champion. Sideline: The boundary line that runs the length of the field along each side. Quarterback: The leader of a team’s offense. . Red Zone: The imaginary area between the defense's 20-yard line and its goal line from which the offense is most likely to score points. Previous Spot: Where the ball was snapped to begin the last play. This is awarded to a team that has just scored a touchdown. Picked Off: When a forward pass is caught in the air (intercepted) by a defender whose team immediately gains possession of the ball and now becomes the offensive team. Play Clock: A clock displayed above each end zone. Pocket: The area behind the offensive line where the quarterback is protected by his blockers.

It is the culmination of the National Football League (NFL) playoffs. and a left and right defensive tackle. Sweep: A rushing play in which the player carrying the ball runs around one end. Tackle: A player position on both the offensive and defensive lines. Touchdown: When a player carries the ball across the opposing goal line. rather than through the middle of the offensive line. or recovers a loose ball in the opponent’s end zone. Wild Card: A team that makes the playoffs by having one of the two best records among non-division winners in its conference. or catches a pass in the opponent’s end zone. Touchback: On a kickoff. When successful. This was introduced to the National Football League (NFL) in 1994. Third-and-Long: When the offense faces a third down (usually five yards or more). the receiving player kneels on one knee in the end zone and the next offensive play automatically starts at his own 20-yard line. thereby ending the play. either by a fumble or by throwing an interception which results in the defense gaining possession of the ball. 2-Point Conversion: When a team that just scored a touchdown starts a play at the opponent’s 2-yard line (3-yard line in college) and crosses the goal line to earn 2 points. A touchdown is worth six points.Super Bowl: The championship game of the National Football League (NFL) that is played between the champions of the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC) at a neutral site every January or February. To signal a touchback. . Tackling: When a player carrying the ball is contacted by an opposing player causing him to touch the ground with any part of his body (except his hands). There is usually a left and right offensive tackle. when a player gains possession of a ball in his own end zone and does not run it out or the kick goes through the end zone. Turnover: The involuntary loss of possession of the ball during a play. Territory: The half of the field a team protects against its opponents. it looks just like a touchdown.

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