You’ve made it from pre-season through the Pro Bowl without
a care in the world, but now that Super Bowl XLVI is ready for kick-off, you’ve
gotta get in the know, fast! Before you grab your team tee, take a peek at GL’s Football 101 Playbook.
A football game is divided into two halves of two quarters
apiece. Each quarter is 15 minutes of playtime, but there’s about three minutes
of real time for every minute of actual play. You’re looking at a three-hour
game, longer depending on the half-time show.
Only 11 players are allowed to be on the field at one time,
but you’ll see several dozen big burly men on the sidelines waiting for their
chance to get into the game. Players are divided up onto three different teams
depending on their specialized rolls: offense, defense and special teams, which
punts the ball, kicks field goals and executes other specialized plays.
A regulation football field is 360 feet by 160 feet—massive,
right? Teams line in on opposing sidelines, and the field is bookended by two
endzones. To score points, a team has to make it into the endzone, whether a
player runs the ball in, catches the ball within the box or kicks the ball
through the upright goalpost.
Starting the game
The game starts with a coin toss to determine which team
will “kick off” to begin the game. The team that wins the toss will either go
onto offense, and receive the ball, or go onto defense, and kick the ball off.
Basics of play
A team on offense gets four “downs”—or chances—to move the
ball ten yards down the field. They can do this by running the ball, known as
“rushing,” or by throwing or “passing” the ball. The quarterback calls the
A play ends when the player with the ball is tackled by the
defense, runs out of bounds, scores, or the ball flies out of bounds or touches
the ground before being caught.
If the offensive team progresses 10 yards down the field,
they are given another set of four downs and the action begins again. If they
don’t, they will usually punt the ball to the team on defense. What’s the
point? To score, of course!
A touchdown occurs
when a player runs the ball into the endzone or catches the ball in the
endzone. It is worth 6 points, with another point being rewarded if the team’s
place kicker successfully kicks the ball through the uprights. The team can
score two extra points—a two-point conversion—if they successfully run or pass the ball into the
endzone again, rather than kicking for the extra point.
A field goal occurs
when a team’s kicker kicks the ball through the uprights. It is worth 3 points.
A safety occurs when
a defensive player tackles an offensive player in the offense’s endzone. This
is rare and worth two points.
Terms you need to know
Line of scrimmage –
The position on the field where the play begins. Teams line up opposite each
Snap – The ball is
put into play when a center on the offensive team “snaps” or passes the ball
backward to the quarterback.
Interception – When
a player on the defense catches a pass thrown by the offense, this is an
interception. The team on defense receives the ball and goes onto offense.
Fumble – A fumble
happens when a player on the offense drops the ball.
False start – This
occurs when a member of the offensive team moves before the ball has been
snapped, and results in a five-yard penalty.
Pass interference –
In American football, you’re not allowed to hinder a receiver’s ability to
catch the ball. That means no tripping, tackling, blocking or pushing, no
matter if the player is on the offense or the defense.
Sack – A triumph of
a good defense is sacking the quarterback, or tackling him behind the line of
scrimmage, before he is able to bring his arm forward to pass the ball.
BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 2/5/2012 12:00:00 AM
POSTED IN Super Bowl, party ideas, winter parties, football