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Football 101 South Whidbey Youth Football Association (SWFA), ( www.eteamz.com/mvdawgs,) is one of currently 16 non profit teams and associations. All are Member’s of the North Cascade Youth Football League (NCYFL), (www.eteamz.com/ncyfl.) Which sets the Rules, Regulations and Standards for these football teams and their organizations. The NCYFL uses the National Federation of High School (NFHS) (www.nfhs.org) Rules with several Additions and Exceptions. See the NCYFL Coach And Director Handbook and the NFHS rules for up to date Game Rules. The following, which commonly refers to the NFL (The National Football League) is to gain a better understanding of the basics and terminology of the game of Football. Field and players The numbers on the field indicate the number of yards to the nearest end zone. Football is played on a field 360 by 160 feet (109.7 m × 48.8 m). The longer boundary lines are sidelines, while the shorter boundary lines are end lines. Sidelines and end lines are out of bounds. Near each end of the field is a goal line; they are 100 yards (91.4 m) apart. A scoring area called an end zone extends 10 yards (9.1 m) beyond each goal line to each end line. The end zone includes the goal line but not the end line. While the playing field is effectively flat, it is common for a field to be built with a slight crown—with the middle of the field higher than the sides—to allow water to drain from the field. Yard lines cross the field every 5 yards (4.6 m), and are numbered every 10 yards from each goal line to the 50-yard line, or midfield (similar to a typical rugby league field). Two rows of short lines, known as inbounds lines or hash marks, run at 1-yard (91.4 cm) intervals perpendicular to the sidelines near the middle of the field. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. Because of the arrangement of the lines, the field is occasionally referred to as a gridiron. At the back of each end zone are two goalposts (also called uprights) connected by a crossbar 10 feet (3.05 m) from the ground. For high skill levels, the posts are 222 inches (5.64 m) apart. For lower skill levels, these are widened to 280 inches (7.11 m). Each team has 11 players on the field at a time. However, teams may substitute for any or all of their players, if time allows, during the break between plays. As a result, players have very specialized roles, and, sometimes (although rarely) almost all of the (at least) 46 active players on an NFL team will play in any given game. Thus, teams are divided into three separate units: the offense, the defense and the special teams. Offense The offensive team or offense in football is the team that begins a play from scrimmage in possession of the ball. A play usually begins when the quarterback takes a snap from the center and then either hands off to a back, passes to a receiver or a back, runs the ball himself, spikes the ball, or takes a knee. The purpose of spiking the ball is to stop the play clock if the offense is running out of time. The purpose of taking a knee is to waste time. If a player runs the ball and stays in bounds, or if a player receives a pass and stays in bounds (this has the same effect as taking a knee), then the clock keeps ticking. But if a player runs out of bounds, or there is an incomplete pass (which also counts as spiking the ball), then the clock stops. Usually the sign that their goal is accomplished for the offensive team is the touchdown. The offensive team, however, can also help the team score by getting good field position for an attempt at a field goal. The offensive unit in football consists of a quarterback, linemen, backs, tight ends and receivers. The function of most of the linemen is to block. The offensive line consists of a center, two guards, two tackles and one or two tight ends. Backs include running backs (or tailbacks) who frequently carry the ball, and a fullback, who usually blocks, and occasionally carries the ball or receives a pass. The primary function of the wide receivers is to catch passes. The ultimate makeup of the offense and how it operates is governed by the head coach or offensive coordinator's offensive philosophy. Basic Positions on Offense Quarterback The player who receives the ball from the center at the start of each play before either handing it to the running back, throwing it to a receiver, or running with it himself. The quarterback is usually the player in charge of running the offense on the field. He is also the guy that usually informs the offense of the play while in the huddle. Halfback An offensive player who lines up in the backfield and generally is responsible for carrying the ball on run plays. A running back's primary role is to run with the football, he is also used as a receiver at times. Fullback An offensive player who lines up in the offensive backfield and generally is responsible for run-blocking for the halfback and pass-blocking for the quarterback. Fullbacks are usually bigger than halfbacks, and also serve as short-yardage runners. Wide Receiver An offensive player who lines up on or near the line of scrimmage, but split to the outside. His primary job is to catch passes from the quarterback. Tight End An offensive player who serves as a receiver and also a blocker. The tight end lines up beside the offensive tackle either to the right or to the left of the quarterback. Offensive Tackle A member of the offensive line. There are two tackles on every play, and they line up on the outside of the offensive guards. Offensive Guard A member of the offensive line. There are two guards on every play, and they line up on either side of the offensive center. Center The offensive lineman who hikes (or snaps) the ball to the quarterback at the start of each play. The center lines up in the middle of the offensive line, between the offensive guards. Defense The defensive team or defense is the team that begins a play from scrimmage not in possession of the ball. The object of the defensive team is to prevent the other team from scoring. The sign that the defensive goal has been accomplished is recovering possession of the football before the offensive team scores, which usually involves the offensive team punting the ball on fourth down. Other possibilities include having the ball turned over on downs, getting an interception or recovering a fumble. Unlike the offensive team, there are no formally defined defensive positions. A defensive player may line up anywhere on his side of the line of scrimmage and perform any legal action. Most sets used in football, however, include a line composed of defensive ends and defensive tackles and (behind the line) linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. Defensive ends and tackles are collectively called defensive line, while the cornerbacks and safeties are collectively called the secondary, or defensive backs. Basic Positions on Defense Defensive End A defensive player who lines up at the end of the defensive line. The job of the defensive end is to contain the running back on running plays to the outside, and rush the quarterback on passing plays. Defensive Tackle A defensive player who lines up on the interior of the defensive line. The duties of a defensive tackle include stopping the running back on running plays, getting pressure up the middle on passing plays, and occupying blockers so the linebackers can roam free. Nose Tackle The defensive player who lines up directly across from the center. Also known as: the nose guard, the primary responsibilities of the nose tackle are to stop the run and occupy the offensive lineman to keep them from blocking the linebackers. Linebacker A defensive player who lines up behind the defensive linemen and in front of the defensive backfield. The linebackers are a team's second line of defense. Each team has two outside linebackers. In a 4-3 defense, teams have one inside linebacker, usually referred to as a middle linebacker. In a 3-4 defense teams have two inside linebackers. Cornerback A defensive back who generally lines up on the outside of the formation and is usually assigned to cover a wide receiver. Safety A defensive back who lines up in the secondary between, but generally deeper than the cornerbacks. His primary duties include helping the cornerbacks in pass coverage Special teams Special teams are units that are on the field during kickoffs, free kicks, punts, field goal and extra point attempts. Most special teams players are second- and third-string players from other positions. Special teams are unique in that they can serve as offensive or defensive units and that they are only seen sporadically throughout a game. Special teams include a kickoff team, a kick return team, a punting team, a punt blocking/return team, a field goal team and a field goal block team. Positions on Special Teams Gunner The members of the special teams who specialize in racing downfield to tackle the kick or punt returner. The gunners usually line up on the outside of the offensive line and are often double teamed by blockers. Holder The player who catches the snap from the center and places it down for the placekicker to attempt to kick it through the uprights of the goalpost. On an attempted field goal, the holder must catch the ball and put it into a good kicking position, ideally with the laces facing away from the kicker. Kick Returner A kick returner is the player that catches kickoffs and attempts to return them in the opposite direction. He is usually one of the faster players on the team, often a reserve wide receiver. Long Snapper The center position as it would be played on offense, but this player specializes in making longer snaps for punts and field goal attempts. A long-snapper generally has to snap the ball seven-to-eight yards behind him for field goal attempts and 13 to 15 yards for punts with the accuracy that allows the holder or punter to handle the ball cleanly. Placekicker The player who kicks the ball on kickoffs, extra point attempts, and field goal attempts. A placekicker either kicks the ball while it's being held by a teammate or kicks it off a tee. Punter The player who stands behind the line of scrimmage, catches the long snap from the center, and then kicks the ball after dropping it toward his foot. The punter generally comes in on fourth down to punt the ball to the other team with the idea of driving the other team as far back as possible before they take possession of the ball. Punt Returner The job of a punt returner is to catch the ball after it has been punted and run it back toward the punting team's end zone. Start of halves Similarly to association football, the game begins with a coin toss to determine which team will kick off to begin the game and which goal each team will defend. The options are presented again to start the second half; the choices for the first half do not automatically determine the start of the second half. The referee conducts the coin toss with the captains (or sometimes coaches) of the opposing teams. The team that wins the coin toss has three options: 1. They may choose whether to kick or receive the opening kickoff. 2. They may choose which goal to defend. 3. They may choose to defer the first choice to the other team and have first choice to start the second half. Whatever the first team chooses, the second team has the option on the other choice (for example, if the first team elects to receive at the start of the game, the second team can decide which goal to defend). At the start of the second half, the options to kick, receive, or choose a goal to defend are presented to the captains again. The team which did not choose first to start the first half (or which deferred its privilege to choose first) now gets first choice of options. Game duration A standard football game consists of four 15-minute quarters (12-minute quarters in high-school football and often shorter at lower levels), with a 12 minute half-time intermission after the second quarter. The clock stops after certain plays; therefore, a game can last considerably longer (often more than three hours in real time), and if a game is broadcast on television, TV timeouts are taken at certain intervals of the game to broadcast commercials outside of game action. If an NFL game is tied after four quarters, the teams play an additional period lasting up to 15 minutes. In an NFL overtime game, the first team that scores wins, even if the other team does not get a possession; this is referred to as sudden death. In a regular-season NFL game, if neither team scores in overtime, the game is a tie. In an NFL playoff game, additional overtime periods are played, as needed, to determine a winner. College overtime rules are more complicated and are described in Overtime (sport). Advancing the ball Advancing the ball in American football resembles the six-tackle rule and the play-the-ball in rugby league. The team that takes possession of the ball (the offense) has four attempts, called downs, in which to advance the ball 10 yards (9.1 m) toward their opponent's (the defense's) end zone. When the offense succeeds in gaining at least 10 yards, it gets a first down, meaning the team has another set of four downs to gain yet another 10 yards or to score. If the offense fails to gain a first down (10 yards) after 4 downs, the other team gets possession of the ball at the point where the fourth down ended, beginning with their first down to advance the ball in the opposite direction. Except at the beginning of halves and after scores, the ball is always put into play by a snap. Offensive players line up facing defensive players at the line of scrimmage (the position on the field where the play begins). One offensive player, the center, then passes (or "snaps") the ball backwards between his legs to a teammate behind him, usually the quarterback. Players can then advance the ball in two ways: 1. By running with the ball, also known as rushing. 2. By throwing the ball to a teammate, known as a forward pass or as passing the football. The forward pass is a key factor distinguishing American and Canadian football from other football sports. The offense can throw the ball forward only once during a down and only from behind the line of scrimmage. The ball can be thrown, pitched, handed-off, or tossed sideways or backwards at any time. A down ends, and the ball becomes dead, after any of the following: The player with the ball is forced to the ground (a tackle) or has his forward progress halted by members of the other team (as determined by an official). A forward pass flies beyond the dimensions of the field (out of bounds) or touches the ground before it is caught. This is known as an incomplete pass. The ball is returned to the most recent line of scrimmage for the next down. The ball or the player with the ball goes out of bounds. A team scores. Officials blow a whistle to notify players that the down is over. Before each down, each team chooses a play, or coordinated movements and actions, that the players should follow on a down. Sometimes, downs themselves are referred to as "plays." Change of possession The offense maintains possession of the ball unless one of the following things occurs: The team fails to get a first down— i.e., in four downs they fail to move the ball past a line 10 yards ahead of where they got their last first down (it is possible to be downed behind the current line of scrimmage, losing "yardage"). The defensive team takes over the ball at the spot where the 4th-down play ends. A change of possession in this manner is commonly called a turnover on downs, but is not credited as a defensive "turnover" in official statistics. Instead, it goes against the offense's 4th down efficiency percentage. The offense scores a touchdown or field goal. The team that scored then kicks the ball to the other team in a special play called a kickoff. The offense punts the ball to the defense. A punt is a kick in which a player drops the ball and kicks it before it hits the ground. Punts are nearly always made on fourth down (though see quick kick), when the offensive team does not want to risk giving up the ball to the other team at its current spot on the field (through a failed attempt to make a first down) and feels it is too far from the other team's goal posts to attempt a field goal. A defensive player catches a forward pass. This is called an interception, and the player who makes the interception can run with the ball until he is tackled, forced out of bounds, or scores. An offensive player drops the ball (a fumble) and a defensive player picks it up. As with interceptions, a player recovering a fumble can run with the ball until tackled, forced out of bounds, or scores. Backward passes that are not caught do not cause the down to end like incomplete forward passes do; instead the ball is still live as if it had been fumbled. Lost fumbles and interceptions are together known as turnovers. The offensive team misses a field goal attempt. The defensive team gets the ball at the spot where the previous play began (or, in the NFL, at the spot of the kick). If the unsuccessful kick was attempted from within 20 yards (18.3 m) of the end zone, the other team gets the ball at its own 20 yard line (that is, 20 yards from the end zone). If a field goal is missed or blocked and the ball remains in the field of play, a defensive player may pick up the ball and attempt to advance it. While in his own end zone, an offensive ball carrier is tackled, forced out of bounds, loses the ball out of bounds, or the offense commits certain fouls. This fairly rare occurrence is called a safety. An offensive ball carrier fumbles the ball forward into the opposing end zone, and then the ball goes out of bounds. This extremely rare occurrence leads to a touchback, with the ball going over to the opposing team at their 20 yard line (Note that touchbacks during non-offensive special teams plays, such as punts and kickoffs, are quite common). Scoring A team scores points by the following plays: A touchdown (TD) is worth 6 points. It is scored when a player runs the ball into or catches a pass in his opponent's end zone. A touchdown is analogous to a try in rugby. Unlike rugby, a player does not have to touch the ball to the ground to score; a touchdown is scored any time a player has possession of the ball while the ball is on or beyond the opponents' goal line (or the plane above it). o After a touchdown, the scoring team attempts a try (which is also analogous to the conversion in rugby). The ball is placed at the other team's 3-yard (2.7 m) line (the 2-yard (1.8 m) line in the NFL). The team can attempt to kick it over the crossbar and through the goal posts in the manner of a field goal for 1 point (an extra point or point-after touchdown (PAT), or run or pass it into the end zone in the manner of a touchdown for 2 points (a two-point conversion). In college football, if the defense intercepts or recovers a fumble during a one or two point conversion attempt and returns it to the opposing end zone, the defensive team is awarded the two points. A field goal (FG) is worth 3 points, and it is scored by kicking the ball over the crossbar and through the goal posts (uprights). Field goals may be placekicked (kicked when the ball is held vertically against the ground by a teammate) or drop-kicked (extremely uncommon in the modern game, with only two successes in sixty-plus years in the NFL). A field goal is usually attempted on fourth down instead of a punt when the ball is close to the opponent's goal line, or, when there is little or no time left to otherwise score. A safety, worth 2 points, is scored by the opposing team when the team in possession at the end of a down is responsible for the ball becoming dead behind its own goal line. For instance, a safety is scored by the defense if an offensive player is tackled, goes out of bounds, or fumbles the ball out of bounds in his own end zone. Safeties are relatively rare. Note that, though even more rare, the team initially on offense during a down can score a safety if a player of the original defense gains possession of the ball in front of his own goal line and then carries the ball or fumbles it into his own end zone where it becomes dead. However, if the ball becomes dead behind the goal line of the team in possession and its opponent is responsible for the ball being there (for instance, if the defense intercepts a forward pass in its own end zone and the ball becomes dead before the ball is advanced out of the end zone) it is a touchback: no points are scored and the team last in possession keeps possession with a first down at its own 20 yard line. In amateur football, in the extremely rare instance that a safety is scored on a try, it is worth only 1 point. Kickoffs and free kicks Each half begins with a kickoff. Teams also kick off after scoring touchdowns and field goals. The ball is kicked using a kicking tee from the team's own 30-yard (27 m) line in the NFL and college football (as of the 2007 season). The other team's kick returner tries to catch the ball and advance it as far as possible. Where he is stopped is the point where the offense will begin its drive, or series of offensive plays. If the kick returner catches the ball in his own end zone, he can either run with the ball, or elect for a touchback by kneeling in the end zone, in which case the receiving team then starts its offensive drive from its own 20 yard line. A touchback also occurs when the kick goes out-of-bounds in the end zone. A kickoff that goes out-of-bounds anywhere other than the end zone before being touched by the receiving team is a foul, and the ball will be placed where it went out of bounds or 30 yards (27 m) from the kickoff spot, depending on which is more advantageous to the opposite team. Unlike with punts, once a kickoff goes 10 yards and the ball has hit the ground, it can be recovered by the kicking team. A team, especially one who is losing, can try to take advantage of this by attempting an onside kick. Punts and turnovers in the end zone can also end in a touchback. After safeties, the team that gave up the points must free kick the ball to the other team from its own 20 yard line. Penalties Fouls (a type of rule violation) are punished with penalties against the offending team. Most penalties result in moving the football towards the offending team's end zone. If the penalty would move the ball more than half the distance towards the offender's end zone, the penalty becomes half the distance to the goal instead of its normal value. Most penalties result in replaying the down. Some defensive penalties give the offense an automatic first down. Conversely, some offensive penalties result in loss of a down (loss of the right to repeat the down). If a penalty gives the offensive team enough yardage to gain a first down, they get a first down, as usual. If a foul occurs during a down, an official throws a yellow penalty flag near the spot of the foul. When the down ends, the team that did not commit the foul has the option of accepting the penalty, or declining the penalty and accepting the result of the down. Downs A down begins with a snap or free kick (such as a kickoff), and ends when the ball or the player in possession of it is declared down by an official, a team scores, or the ball or player in possession of it leaves the field of play. Down is also an adjective to describe the condition of the player with possession of the ball after he has been tackled or is otherwise unable to advance the ball further on account of the play having ended (e.g., "He is down at the 34 yard line"). It may also refer to the ball after it is made dead in one manner or another. The line of scrimmage for the next play will be determined by the position of the ball when it is downed. Each possession begins with first down. The line to gain is marked 10 yards downfield from the start of this possession, and the situation is described as "1st and 10" (if the goal line is less than 10 yards downfield, then the goal line is the line to gain and the situation is "1st and goal"). If the offensive team moves the ball past the line to gain, they make a new first down. If they fail to do this after 4 downs, the team is said to turn the ball over on downs, and possession of the ball reverts to the opposing team at the spot where the ball was downed at the end of the last down. When the offensive team has not yet made a first down before reaching the final down, the team faces a last down situation or fourth down situation, where the team is forced to decide whether to either scrimmage the ball in an attempt to pick up the first down (this is called going for it [on fourth down]), or alternatively to kick the ball (either by punting or making a field goal attempt). Kicking the ball is typically the safer solution, while scrimmaging may lead to a turnover on downs, potentially giving the ball over to the other team with good field position. Downing the player with possession of the ball is one way to end a play (other ways include the player with the ball going out of bounds, an incomplete pass, or a score). Usually a player is made down when he is tackled by the defense. In the NFL, if the offensive player is touching the ground with some part of his body other than his hands or feet, then he is down if any defensive player touches him. In the NCAA, the play is dead in such a situation. If recovering the ball in one's opponent's end zone following a kick-off , and following any kick into the end zone, a player may down the ball by dropping to one knee. A player in possession of the ball will down the ball if he fumbles it out of bounds. If a quarterback is running with the ball during his initial possession of the same play following the snap, he may down the ball by voluntarily sliding from his feet to a sitting or recumbent position - this is to protect the quarterback from injury. In the NFL, the quarterback is the only player for whom falling down in this way automatically stops play. Football 101 Terminology 1st and 10: First down with 10 yards to go for a new first down. This is the usual starting point for a possession. On occasion the yards to go may be a number other than 10, due to a penalty calling for both moving the ball backwards or forwards (depending on whether the penalty is against the offense or the defense respectively) and replaying the down. 2nd and 5: Second down with 5 yards to go. Similarly, 2nd and 10, 3rd and 2, etc. 3rd and long: third down with an unspecified but significant distance to go (usually over 15 or 20 yards). Often used as a metaphor for a desperate situation that demands risky actions be taken 4th and inches.: Fourth down with less than one yard to go. This is often used in tense situations where the offense is tempted to scrimmage the ball rather than kick for a chance to get another first down. 1st and goal: First down, where the goal line is the line to gain, for example, 1st and goal on the 8 yard line. A team cannot make another first down (barring a defensive penalty) without actually scoring. Similarly, "2nd and goal", etc. down by contact: Describes when a player with possession of the ball is made to touch the ground (other than hands or feet) by a defensive player; for example, if the ball-carrier slips and falls, he can get up and continue, but if he was pushed by a defensive player, he is said to be down by contact and the play is dead. This term is only applicable to professional football; in college and high-school football, the play ends when the player with possession goes down for any reason. 3-3-5 defense A variation of the Nickel formation with 3 linemen (2 De & 1 DT), 3 linebackers (2 OLB & 1 MLB), and 5 defensive backs (3 CB, 1 SS & 1 FS). Often called a 3-3 stack. Also called the "Rule Breaker" due to the fact that it often changes blocking schemes for the offensive line. 3-4 defense a defensive formation with 3 linemen and 4 linebackers. A professional derivative in the 1970s of the earlier Oklahoma or "50" defense, which had 5 linemen and 2 linebackers. The 3-4 outside linebackers resemble "stand-up ends" in the older defense. 4-3 defense a defensive formation with 4 linemen and 3 linebackers. Several variations are employed. First used by coach Joe Kuharich and Tom Landry. 4-4-4 Defense Illegal participation (name so derived from the fact that 4+4+4=12 men on the field; each team is limited to 11). Coined by coach and color commentator John Madden. (However, this formation is legal in Canadian football, as there are 12 players on the Field) 46 defense (pronounced forty-six defense) a formation of the 4-3 defense (four linemen and three linebackers) in which three defensive backs (the two cornerbacks and the strong safety) crowd the line of scrimmage. The remaining safety, which is the free safety, stays in the backfield. It was invented by Buddy Ryan while with the Chicago Bears and popularized by the Super Bowl XX Champion 1985 Chicago Bears. 50 defense a once popular college defense with 5 defensive linemen and 2 linebackers. Also known as the "Oklahoma Defense," it is structurally very similar to the 3-4. In the 50-defense, the team uses a nose tackle (NT), 2 defensive tackles(DTs) lined up over or slightly inside the offensive tackles(OTs), and 2 defensive ends (DEs) lineup over or outside the tight end (TE). It maximizes size along the line of scrimmage and is mostly used only in high school against teams that run the ball a lot. A-11 offense an offensive philosophy designed to appear as if all 11 players are eligible receivers. The offense exploits a loophole in the American football rulebook to technically make the formation a scrimmage kick, and the offensive line is spread across the field, all wearing numbers of eligible receivers, in an effort to confuse and deceive the defense. It was banned in 2009. Air Raid an offensive philosophy derived from the West Coast Offense but adapted to the shotgun formation. In this offense the running game is heavily de-emphasized while the quick pass, medium pass, and screen game are highly developed. Air Yards the yards gained by a pass through the air. It is the distance gained by a pass forward of the line of scrimmage to the spot of the reception. Alternatively, it is the total passing yards minus the yards run after catch (RAC). all-purpose yardage the sum of all yards gained by a player who is in possession of the ball during a play. This includes rushing and receiving yards gained on offense, yards gained on returns of interceptions and fumbles, and yards gained on kickoff and punt returns. audible a play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage to make a change from the play that was called in the huddle. automatic first down for several of the most severe fouls against the defensive team, a first down is awarded to the offensive team even if the result of the penalty does not advance the ball beyond the line to gain. In the NFL and NCAA, the fouls include pass interference and all personal fouls. Under NFHS (High School) rules only roughing the snapper, holder, kicker, or passer and forward pass interference by the defense are penalized with an automatic first down. back A position behind the offensive and defensive linemen. Offensively, mostly used for running plays: Running back, Tailback, Quarterbacks, Halfback, Fullbacks and Wingback. Defensively, generally faster players with some or all responsibility to cover receivers: Linebackers, Cornerbacks and Safeties. backup A second string player who does not start the game, but comes in later in relief of a starter. backward pass a pass thrown to the side or backward. Also called "onside pass" in Canadian football. There is no limit to the number of backward passes or where they may be thrown from. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as a "lateral". ballcarrier Any player who attempts to advance the ball during a rushing play, or any player in possession of the ball and attempting to advance it on the ground. ball security The ability of a player to maintain control over the football during play and thus avoid a fumble. blitz a defensive maneuver in which one or more linebackers or defensive backs, who normally remain behind the line of scrimmage, instead charge into the opponents' backfield. However, in the 3-4 defense, one linebacker typically rushes the passer with the three down linemen. This is not considered a blitz. If an additional linebacker is sent, bringing the total number of rushers to five, it is a blitz. blocking when a player obstructs another player's path with his body. Examples: Cut block, Zone block, Trap block, Pull block, Screen block, Pass block, Double-team block. blocking back Early name for quarterback blocking sled a heavy piece of practice equipment, usually a padded angular frame on metal skids, used for developing strength and blocking techniques blowout A game in which one team dominates another in scoring from an early point in the contest. bomb a long pass bootleg an offensive play predicated upon misdirection in which the quarterback pretends to hand the ball to another player, and then carries the ball in the opposite direction of the supposed ballcarrier with the intent of either passing or running (sometimes the quarterback has the option of doing either). A naked bootleg is a risky variation of this play when the quarterback has no blockers pulling out with him. Contrast with scramble, sneak, and draw. the box an area on the defensive side of the ball, directly opposite the offensive linemen and about 5 yards deep; having 8 players in the box means bringing in a defensive back, normally the strong safety, to help stop the offensive team's running game bust term often used to refer to a player, usually one drafted in the first day of the NFL Draft, who failed to meet the expectations of the drafting team. (Ex : Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tim Couch ) busted play A term used to describe play which, due to unforeseen circumstances, deteriorates to the point that it no longer conforms with coach's playbook and leads to confusion or chaos on the field. buttonhook (hook,dig) The buttonhook route is when a receiver runs straight upfield a certain distance and then plants hard and runs straight back towards the quarterback. Often simply called a hook route or a dig route. In some cases, a dig route is considered a very long buttonhook, such as 15+ yards downfield. Hence the receiver must dig his cleats in hard to stop and come back at the quarterback after running so far and fast. Carry or carries is a statistic referring to the number of times a rushing player attempts to advance the ball. A ballcarrier can be any player that attempts to advance the ball during an offensive play, regardless of position. chain the 10-yard long chain that is used by the chain crew (aka "chain gang") to measure for a new series of downs. chop block Similar to a cut block in which one offensive player blocks a defensive player below the knees and another blocks him above the waist. It is illegal to block low if a team mate is already engaged with the defensive player blocking high to prevent knee and ankle injuries. clipping an illegal block in which the victim is blocked from the back and at or below the waist; the penalty is 15 yards. Originally, clipping was defined as any block from the back, but is now restricted to blocks at or below the waist. Other blocks from the back are now punished with 10-yard penalties. completion percentage percentage of passing accuracy. Passes Attempted divided by passes completed. contain a defensive assignment. On outside runs such as the sweep, one defensive player (usually a cornerback or outside linebacker) is assigned to keep the rusher from getting to the edge of the play and turning upfield. If executed properly, the rusher will have to turn upfield before the play calls for it, giving the linebackers a better chance of stopping the play for little or no gain. Cover There are two general schemes for defending against the pass: 1. Man-to-man, where each eligible receiver is covered by a defensive back or a linebacker. 2. Zone, where certain players (usually defensive backs and/or linebackers, though occasionally linemen as well) are assigned an area on the field (Flat, Hook, Curl and Deep) that they are to cover. counter a running play in which the running back will take a step in the apparent direction of the play (i.e., the direction the line is moving), only to get the handoff in the other direction. Weak side linemen will sometimes pull and lead the back downfield (sometimes called a counter trap), but not necessarily. The play is designed to get the defense to flow away from the action for a few steps as they follow the linemen, allowing more room for the running back. crackback block an illegal block delivered below the opponent's waist by an offensive player who had left the area of close line play and then returned to it, or was not within it at the snap. The term is also used to describe a legal block (delivered from the front, or from the side with the offensive player's helmet in front of the blocked player) by a wide receiver on a player who lined up inside of him. cut a sharp change of direction by a running player. Also called a cutback. cut blocking a blocking technique in which offensive linemen, and sometimes other blockers, block legally below the waist (i.e., from the front of the defensive player) in an attempt to bring the defenders to ground, making them unable to pursue a running back for the short time needed for the back to find a gap in the defense. The technique is somewhat controversial, as it carries a risk of serious leg injuries to the blocked defenders. dead ball a ball which is no longer in play. delay of game a foul which occurs when the offensive team does not put the ball in play before the play clock runs out. There are also less common occurrences which result in a delay of game foul. Penalty: 5 yards. dime back the second extra, or sixth total, defensive back. Named because a dime has the same value as two nickels. See nickel back. direct snap a play in which the ball is passed directly to the presumed ball carrier by the center. Contrast with an indirect snap play in which the ball is first handed to the quarterback, who will then pass or hand it to the eventual ball carrier. Also used to refer to formations that use a direct snap, such as the single wing. dive a play in which the ball hand off to the running back and attacks the middle of the offensive formation (between the OG).This play is part of the Triple option strategy. double reverse a play in which the ball reverses direction twice behind the line of scrimmage. This is usually accomplished by means of two or three hand-offs, each hand-off going in an opposite direction as the previous one. Such a play is extremely infrequent in football. Some people confuse the double reverse with a reverse, which is a play with two hand-offs instead of three. double wing a formation with 2 tight ends & 2 wingbacks in which the snap is tossed by the center between his legs to the quarterback or halfback moderately deep in the backfield. double wing(ed)-T a formation with 2 tight ends & 2 wingbacks in which the center hands the ball to the quarterback, who holds his hands between the legs of the center. down a unit of the game that starts with a legal snap or legal free kick after the ball is ready for play and ends when the ball next becomes dead. First down is the first of the plays; fourth is the last down in American, and third in Canadian, football. A first down occurs after a change of possession of the ball, after advancing the ball 10 yards following a previous first down or after certain penalties. drive A continuous set of offensive plays gaining substantial yardage and several first downs, usually leading to a scoring opportunity. A blocking technique - "drive block" - in which an offensive player through an advantaged angle or with assistance drive a defensive player out of position creating a hole for the ball carrier. drop kick a kick in which the ball is dropped and kicked once it hits the ground and before it hits it again; a half-volley kick. A drop kick is one of the types of kick which can score a field goal. dual threat quarterback a quarterback who is skilled at both passing and rushing the ball. These quarterbacks may be difficult to defend against since the defensive team cannot focus on one threat to the exclusion of the other. eligible receivers players who may legally touch a forward pass. On the passer's team, these are: the ends (see below), the backs, and (except in the NFL) one player in position to take a hand-to-hand snap, i.e. a T quarterback; provided the player's shirt displays a number in the ranges allowed for eligible receivers. All players of the opposing team are eligible receivers, and once the ball is touched by a player of the opposing team (anywhere in American, or beyond the lines of scrimmage in Canadian football), all players become eligible. encroachment an illegal action by a player: to cross the line of scrimmage and make contact with an opponent before the ball is snapped. end around a play, often confused with a reverse, where the quarterback hands the ball off to a wide receiver. The receiver motions/moves into the backfield as the ball is snapped to take the handoff and runs around the opposite end from where he lined up. end zone the area between the end line (or deadline in Canadian amateur football) and the goal line, bounded by the sidelines. extra point a single point scored in a conversion attempt by making what would be a field goal during general play. See "try" below. face mask The protective grill that forms part of the football helmet. face mask, grasping A foul in which a player grabs the face mask or helmet opening of another player's helmet, usually in the process of making a tackle. It results in a 15 yard penalty. A 5-yard penalty was once enforced, but was eliminated in the 2008 NFL's Owners Meeting. false start The sudden movement of the offense in an effort to draw the defense offsides. fair catch An unhindered catch of an opponent's kick. The player wanting to make one must signal for a fair catch by waving an arm overhead while the ball is in the air. After that signal, if he gains possession of the ball it is dead immediately and opponents will receive a fifteen yard penalty for hitting him. field judge the official traditionally in charge of timekeeping field of play the area between both the goal lines and the sidelines, and in some contexts the space vertically above it. field goal score of 3 points made by place- or drop-kicking the ball through the opponent's goal other than via a kickoff or free kick following a safety; formerly, "goal from the field". A missed field goal can be returned as a punt, if recovered in-bounds by the defending team. In some leagues, four-point field goals can be scored under special circumstances. field position a relative measure of how many yards a team must travel in order to score: "good field position" would mean the offense has less distance to cover. first down The first of a set of four downs. Usually, a team which has a first down needs to advance the ball 10 yards to receive another first down, but penalties or field position (i.e. less than 10 yards from the opposing end zone) can affect this. flanker a player position on offense. A wide receiver who lines up in the backfield outside of another receiver. The term is used infrequently in American Football, having been long since replaced by the "Z" wide receiver. flat an area on the field between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards into the defensive backfield, and within 15 yards of the sideline. Running backs often run pass routes to the flat when they are the safety valve receiver. Flea flicker a trick play in which a running back throws a backward pass back to the quarterback, who then throws a pass to a wide receiver or tight end. flexbone a formation involving three running backs where a fullback is lined up behind the quarterback and two slotbacks are lined up behind the line of scrimmage at both ends of the offensive line. formation An arrangement of the offensive skill players. A formation usually is described in terms of how the running backs line up (e.g. I formation, which refers to the half back is lined up about 7 yard deep, and the fullback is lined up about 5 yards deep, both directly behind the quarterback) or how the wide receivers line up (e.g. Trips left, in which three wide receivers line up to the left of the linemen). Frequently, the formation will allude to both, such as with Strong I Slot Right, in which the halfback is lined up 7 yards deep behind the quarterback, the fullback is 5 yards deep behind the guard or tackle on the strong side, and both wide receivers are lined up on the right side of the offensive line. There are rules limiting what is legal in a formation. All five offensive linemen must be on the line of scrimmage (a small amount of leeway is given to tackles when lined up for pass protection). Also, there must be one receiver (usually one tight end and one wide receiver) lined up on the line on either side of the offensive linemen (it doesn't matter how close they are to the tackles, as long as they are on the line), with a total of no fewer than seven players on the line, 5 of which must be numbered between 50-79. A numbering exception exists if the offense is in a scrimmage kick formation which allows a player whose number is 1-49 or 80-99 to take the place of a lineman numbered 50-79. A receiver who is on the line may not go in motion. forward pass a pass that touches a person, object, or the ground closer to the opponent's end line than where it was released from, or is accidentally lost during a forward throwing motion. fourth down The final of a set of four downs. Unless a first down is achieved or a penalty forces a replay of the down, the team will lose control of the ball after this play. If a team does not think they can get a first down, they often punt on fourth down or kick a field goal if they are close enough to do so. fourth down conversion The act of using a fourth down play to make a first down. These are comparatively uncommon. If a team is close enough, they will generally attempt a field goal on fourth down. Otherwise, they will usually punt. However, the coach may elect to try to get a new first down. This is more likely if the amount of yardage needed for the conversion is small, or if the team is trailing by a significant amount (likelihood of such a try increasing as it gets later in the game). four-point stance a down lineman's stance with four points on the ground, in other words, his two feet and his two hands often a technique used in short yardage or goal line situations. free kick a kick made to put the ball in play as a kickoff or following a safety (the score; "safety touch" in Canadian football) or fair catch. free safety (FS) a player position on defense. Free safeties typically play deep, or "center field", and often have the pass defense responsibility of assisting other defensive backs in deep coverage (compared to strong safeties, who usually have an assigned receiver and run support responsibilities). fullback (FB) a player position on offense. Originally, lined up deep behind the quarterback in the T formation. In modern formations this position may be varied, and this player has more blocking responsibilities in comparison to the halfback or tailback. fumble a ball that a player accidentally lost possession of; in Canadian football the term includes muffs goal a surface in space marked by a structure of two upright posts 18 feet 6 inches apart extending above a horizontal crossbar whose top edge is 10 feet off the ground. The goal is the surface above the bar and between the lines of the inner edges of the posts, extending infinitely upward, centered above each end line. goal line the front of the end zone. gunner The widest player on the line in a punting formation. Hail Mary a long pass play, thrown towards a group of receivers near the end zone in hope of a touchdown. Used by a team as a last resort as time is running out in either of two halves (usually by a team trailing in the second half). Refers to the Catholic prayer. halfback (HB) a player position on offense. Also known as a tailback. halfback option play a trick play in which the halfback has the option to throw a pass or run hand-off (also known as backward pass) a player's handing of a live ball to another player. The hand-off goes either backwards or laterally, as opposed to a forward pass. Sometimes called a "switch" in touch football. (Note different usage of term from its rugby meaning.) hands team A group of players, mostly wide receivers, that are responsible for recovering an onside kick. They line up as close as possible to the ten-yard neutral zone and their goal is to recover the ball immediately after, but only if, the ball crosses out of the neutral zone. hard count a strategy used by offenses to convert on fourth down and less than five yards to go. An offense will take the full time on the play clock with the quarterback utilizing an irregular, accented (thus, the term "hard") cadence for the snap count in the hope that the defense will jump offside, giving the offense the five yards needed to convert the first down. However, if the defense does not go offside, the offense will take a five-yard penalty for delay of game and punt the ball away hash marks lines between which the ball begins each play. The lines are parallel to and a distance in from the side lines and marked as broken lines. If a play is blown dead while the ball is between the hash marks, the ball is spotted where it is blown dead for the following play. If the play ends outside the hash marks, the ball is spotted at the nearer hash mark. hike synonym of "snap" - the handoff or pass from the center that begins a play from scrimmage. holder a player who holds the ball upright for a place kick. Often backup quarterbacks are used for their superior ball-handling ability and in the event of a bad snap requiring a pass play, or punters for their ability to catch long snaps. holding there are two kinds of holding: offensive holding, illegally blocking a player from the opposing team by grabbing and holding his uniform or body; and defensive holding, called against defensive players who hold offensive players, but who are not actively making an attempt to catch the ball (if the defensive player were to impede an offensive player in the act of catching the ball, that would be the more severe foul of pass interference) Home and away a method of scheduling opponents, such that the two teams play one game at each team's home stadium. In college football, conferences such as the Big12, where a team does not play all the other teams each year, use a "home and away" schedule to play an opponent two years in a row and then rotate to another opponent. Teams also use this method to schedule non- conference opponents of roughly equal skill so that ticket revenue is split evenly. When scheduling teams of a lower calibre, the higher-rated team usually plays at home and provides a cash payout to the other team. hook and lateral (hook and ladder) a trick play in which a receiver (usually a wide receiver) runs a hook pattern (i.e., moving toward the line of scrimmage to make a catch), and then laterals the ball to a second player (generally another receiver or a running back) going in a different direction. One of the most famous uses of this play was by Boise State in its epic 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma. huddle an on-field gathering of members of a team in order to secretly communicate instructions for the upcoming play. Hurry-Up Offense An offensive strategy designed to gain as much yardage as possible while running as little time off the clock as possible. Often involves making plays without a huddle. This technique can also be used to keep the defensive team off-balance. I formation A formation that includes a fullback and tailback lined up with the fullback directly in front of the tailback. If a third back is in line, this is referred to as a “full house I” or “Maryland I.” If the third back is lined up alongside the fullback, it is referred to as a “Power I.” illegal formation On offense, there must be exactly seven players lined up on the line of scrimmage for at least one count before the ball is snapped. If not, then it is an illegal formation. illegal motion On offense, a player may be in motion but cannot be going forward at the time of the snap (except in Arena football where one player is allowed to do so), and a lineman must be set for one second before the snap. Otherwise it is an illegal motion. illegal shift On offense, only one person is allowed to be in motion at the snap. If not, it is an illegal shift. incomplete pass a forward pass of the ball which no player legally caught. inbounds lines the hash marks. indirect snap a play in which the ball is handed to the quarterback rather than thrown directly to the ballcarrier by the center as in a direct snap play. So named because the quarterback acts as an intermediary in relaying the ball to the ballcarrier. Also used to refer to formations that use such a snap, as most modern formations do. Indirect snap formations exploded in popularity after World War II. ineligible receiver Certain players on the offense are not allowed to catch passes. For example, in most situations offensive linemen cannot be receivers and they may cause their team to be penalized if they catch the ball. An exception is if the ball has already been tipped by a different player. In six-man football all players are eligible receivers. inside 1. of a player's path: relatively close (in reference to the sides of the field) to where the ball was snapped from. Thus, a ballcarrier's path in crossing the neutral zone may be said to be "inside" of an opponent, or an "inside run" in general, and a rushing defensive player may be said to put on an "inside move" or "inside rush". 2. of the movement of the ball between players: directed toward a player who cuts between a player in the backfield who throws or hands the ball and the place from which it was snapped. Thus, an "inside pass" or "inside handoff". An "inside reverse" (sometimes called a scissors play) is a reverse play via an inside handoff. intentional grounding A type of illegal forward pass; thrown without an intended receiver and no chance of completion to any offensive player, for the sole purpose of conserving time or loss of yardage. This foul costs the offense a loss of down and 10 yards. If it occurs 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, then the 10 yards is taken from the spot of the foul. If the foul is committed in the end zone the penalty is a safety. Intentional grounding is not called in the case of a spike after a hand to hand snap or if under NFL or NCAA rules, the quarterback was outside the tackle box, (the imaginary area between each tackle) at the time of the pass, provided that the ball travels at least to the line of scrimmage. The Tackle Box is also known as the Pocket. nfl rules interception the legal catching of a forward pass thrown by an opposing player. kick as a verb, to strike the ball deliberately with the foot; as a noun, such an action producing a punt, place kick, or drop kick kicker (K) player who specializes in placekicking (i.e. field goals and kick offs). kickoff a free kick which starts each half, or restarts the game following a touchdown or field goal. The kickoff may be a place kick in American or Canadian football, or a drop kick in American football. kick returner a player on the receiving team who specializes in fielding kicks and running them back. kneel a low risk play in which the player in possession of the ball kneels down after receiving the snap, ending the play. Used to run out the clock. (Also called "take a knee".) Most commonly, the quarterback will down the ball immediately after the snap in the time after the two-minute warning. Another notable situation is for a player to give up a touchdown run, take a knee to run down the clock because the opposition has no timeouts left, then they can keep the ball, run down the ball and preserve the lead. lateral see backward pass line of scrimmage/scrimmage line one of two vertical planes parallel to the goal line when the ball is to be put in play by scrimmage. For each team in American football, the line of scrimmage is through the point of the ball closest to their end line. The two lines of scrimmage are called offensive line of scrimmage and defensive line of scrimmage. Often shortened to "line". In Canadian football, the line of scrimmage of the defensive team is one yard their side of the ball. line to gain a line parallel to the goal lines, such that having the ball dead beyond it entitles the offense to a new series of downs, i.e. a new "first down". The line is 10 yards in advance of where the ball was to be snapped for the previous first down (or is the goal line, if it is not farther than 10 yards away). lineman a defensive or offensive position on the line of scrimmage. On offense, the player snapping the ball is the center. The players on either side of him are the guards, and the players to the outside of him are the tackles. The players on the end of the line are the ends. This may be varied in an unbalanced line. On defense, the outside linemen are ends, and those inside are tackles. If there are 5 or 6 linemen, the inner most linemen are known as guards. This is rare in professional football except for goal-line defense, but is sometimes seen in high school or college. live ball any ball that is in play, whether it is a player's possession or not. The ball is live during plays from scrimmage and free kicks, including kickoffs. live ball foul a foul given for various infractions such as changing numbers during a game long snapper a center who specializes in the long, accurate snaps required for punts and field goal attempts. Most teams employ a specialist long snapper instead of requiring the normal center to perform this duty. loose ball any ball that is in play and not in a player's possession. This includes a ball in flight during a backward or forward pass. man coverage same as man-to-man coverage man-in-motion a player on offense who is moving backwards or parallel to the line of scrimmage just before the snap. In American football, only one offensive player can be in motion at a time, cannot be moving toward the line of scrimmage at the snap, and may not be a player who is on the line of scrimmage. In Canadian football, more than one back can be in motion, and may move in any direction as long as they are behind the line of scrimmage at the snap. man-to-man coverage a defense in which all players in pass coverage, typically linebackers and defensive backs, cover a specific player. Pure man coverage is very rare; defenses typically mix man and zone coverage. motion The movement of offensive players prior to the snap. muff loose ball that is dropped or mishandled while the player is attempting to gain possession. muffed punt occurs when there is an "uncontrolled touch" of the football after it is punted. May be recovered but not advanced by the kicking team. neutral zone the region between the lines of scrimmage or between the free kick restraining lines nickel back an extra, or fifth, defensive back. Named after the coin, worth five cents. Popularized by the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s, now common. no good unsuccessful. Often said of an unsuccessful field goal attempt. no-huddle offense a tactic wherein the offense quickly forms near the line of scrimmage without huddling before the next play. nose tackle a tackle in a 3-man defensive line who lines up "opposite the center's nose". offensive team the team with possession of the ball offside an infraction of the rule that requires both teams to be on their own side of their restraining line as or before the ball is put play. Offside is normally called on the defensive team during a scrimmage down and on the kicking team during free kick downs. in Canadian football, at the time a ball is kicked by a teammate, being ahead of the ball, or being the person who held the ball for the place kick one back formation a formation where the offensive team has one running back in the backfield with the quarterback. Other eligible receivers are near the line of scrimmage. onside kick a play in which the kicking team tries to recover the kicked ball. Option run or Option Usually, a type of play in which the quarterback has the option of handing off, keeping, or laterally passing to one or more backs. Often described by a type of formation or play action, such as triple option, veer option, or counter option. Teams running option plays often specialize in them. Less often, a play in which a back may either pass or run Option offense an offense heavily relying upon the option run and variations thereof. outside opposite of inside package the group of players on the field for a given play. For example, the Nickel Package substitutes a cornerback for either a linebacker or a defensive lineman (the latter is referred to as a 3-3-5 Nickel), or the Jumbo package substitutes a wide receiver with a tight end. pancake a particularly hard block that leaves the blocked player lying flat on the field. This statistic is not recorded in NFL, but in NFL video games, they are the statistics used to determine who is a good blocker. pass interference when a player illegally hinders an eligible receiver's opportunity to catch forward pass. passing play a play in which a forward pass is made. pass protection the use of blocking by the offensive line and backs to allow the quarterback time and space to throw the ball. pick use of one player to block a second player. Also used to describe an interception of a pass, e.g. a pass by the offense can be "picked off" by the defense. A "pick 6" is a nickname for an interception returned for a touchdown. pistol formation a hybrid version of the shotgun in which the quarterback lines up about 3 yards behind the center and the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback. place kick kicking the ball from where it has been placed stationary on the ground or, where legal, on a tee. play see down. the plan of action the offensive team has for each snap, for example a running play or pass play play action a tactic in which the quarterback fakes either a handoff or a throw in order to draw the defense away from the intended offensive method lay clock a timer used to increase the pace of the game between plays. The offensive team must snap the ball before the time expires, or receive a 5 yard delay of game foul. Currently, the NFL uses 40 seconds (60 seconds after a time out). playing field see field of play pocket an area on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage, where the offensive linemen attempt to prevent the defensive players from reaching the quarterback during passing plays pooch kick a punt or kickoff that is deliberately kicked with less than full force. It is often used in an attempt to limit the ability of the return team to return the ball. post pattern A passing route in which the receiver sprints 8 to 10 yards, fake, look back at QB, then sprint deep at 45 degrees, the opposite pattern is the flag route. It is called a post pattern because the middle of the field is where the goal posts are found. position a place where a player plays relative to teammates, and/or a role filled by that player possession (a) having the ball on offense for a number of downs, ultimately resulting in either a score, a turn-over, or the end of the half. (b) physical control of the ball after a pass or fumble. prevent defense a defensive strategy that utilizes deep zone coverage in order to prevent a big pass play from happening down field, usually at the expense of giving up yards at shorter distances. Often used against Hail Mary plays, or at the end of the game when the defending team is protecting a lead. Disparaged by many fans. John Madden, legendary player, coach, and commentator, has been quoted as saying, "The only thing a prevent defense prevents is a win." pro set offensive formation using two backs, lined up side-by-side 2-3 yards behind the quarterback, with one on either side of the quarterback pulling a term used to describe an offensive lineman who, instead of blocking the player in front of him, steps back and moves down the line("pulls") to block another player, usually in a "trap" or "sweep." pump fake when the quarterback fakes a pass and keeps the ball in his hand in an attempt to fool the defensive team. punt a kick in which the ball is dropped and kicked before it reaches the ground. Used to give up the ball to the opposition after offensive downs have been used, as far down the field as possible. punt return when a punt is fielded by the receiving team and advanced for better field position. The punt returner generally attempts to move the ball as far up the field as possible. Alternatively, they can signal for a fair catch or allow the ball to go into the end zone for a touchback. punter (P) a kicker who specializes in punting as opposed to place kicking. Quarter one of four periods of play in a standard American football game. A quarter lasts for fifteen game clock minutes in most adaptations of American football but may take longer in elapsed time, since the clock does not run continuously. A tie at the end of four quarters may result in overtime. Quarterback scramble see Scramble. quarterback sneak a play most commonly used in very short yardage or goal line situations. The Quarterback quickly snaps the ball and runs right behind or beside the center. quarter defense defensive formation with seven defensive backs, three down linemen and one linebacker. quick kick an unexpected punt. reception when a player catches (receives) the ball. red flag a weighted red marker thrown onto the field by a coach to tell the officials that he wants a certain play reviewed. Sometimes referred to as "challenge flag." red zone the area between the 20 yard line and the goal of the defensive team. referee (R) the official who directs the other officials on the field, He is one of seven officials. restraining line a team's respective line of scrimmage at a free kick, the line the ball is to be kicked from (for the kicking team), or a line 10 yards in advance of that (for the receiving team) Return the act of progressing the ball down the field after a change of possession, such as a kick or interception. (E.g. "He returned the interception for a touchdown".) return yards are those yards gained advancing the ball during play after a change of possession such as a punt or a kickoff or a turnover such as a fumble or an interception. reverse an offensive play in which a running back carries the ball toward one side of the field but hands or tosses the ball to a teammate (almost exclusively a Wide Receiver) who is running in the opposite direction. Contrast to an End Around, in which the ball is handed off directly to a Wide Receiver (usually the man in motion), so the direction of the play never reverses. run and shoot an offensive philosophy designed to force the defense to show its hand prior to the snap of the ball by splitting up receivers and sending them in motion. Receivers run patterns based on the play of the defenders, rather than a predetermined plan. Also known as 'Run & Gun'. Running out the clock A game strategy that involves repeatedly executing simple plays that allow the game clock to continue running in an effort to bring the game to a quicker end. This strategy is almost always employed by the leading team at the end of the game, and may involve one or more quarterback kneels. running play a play where the offense attempts to advance the ball without a forward pass. running up the score a generally discouraged practice in which a team, despite leading by several touchdowns (to the point that it is obvious that the team is going to win), continues to score as many points as possible in an effort to create as wide of a margin of victory as possible. run out of the gun running the ball out of the shotgun formation, which is primarily a pass formation. rush 1. an attempt to tackle or hurry a player before he can throw a pass or make a kick. 2. a running play. rushing average (also yards per carry average) the quotient of a player's total rushing yards divided by the number of rushing attempts. sack tackling a ball carrier who intends to throw a forward pass. A sack is also awarded if a player forces a fumble of the ball, or the ball carrier to go out of bounds, behind the line of scrimmage on an apparent intended forward pass play. The term gained currency ca. 1970. In Madden NFL series, a sack also mean, for an offensive lineman, being flattened by the defensive lineman, therefore unable to hold off his defensive tackle or defensive end, the worst that could happen is to contributing to conceding an interception or a quarterback sack. safety 1. a player position on defense — see free safety and strong safety. 2. a method of scoring (worth two points) by downing an opposing ballcarrier in his own end zone, forcing the opposing ballcarrier out of his own end zone AND out of bounds, or forcing the offensive team to fumble the ball so that it exits the end zone. A safety is also awarded if the offensive team commits a foul within its own end zone. After a safety, the team that was scored upon must kick the ball to the scoring team from its own 20-yard line.A safety scored during a try scores 2 points (1 point in the NFL) and is followed by a kickoff as for any other try. safety valve a receiver whose job it is to get open for a short pass in case all other receivers are covered. sam the strong side outside linebacker scatback A Running Back that is generally very fast, and good at juking and making defenders miss as opposed to running them over on purpose like a 'power' back. scramble or quarterback scramble on a called passing play, when the quarterback runs from the pocket in an attempt to avoid being sacked, giving the receivers more time to get open or attempting to gain positive yards by running himself. screen pass a short forward pass to a receiver who has blockers in front of him. The receiver in this play is usually a running back, although wide receiver and tight end screens are also used. Although they are both called screen passes, the wide receiver screen and the running back screen are used for very different reasons. In the case of a running back screen, the play is designed to allow the pass rushers by the offensive linemen, leaving the defender out of position to make a play. The play is usually employed to defuse the pass rush in the case of a running back screen. The Wide Receiver screen is a much faster developing play, designed to catch the defense off guard. scrimmage 1. See also play from scrimmage and line of scrimmage 2. An informal practice matchup, either between two teams or between different units of the same team. Usually score is not kept; often, each team will get 10 plays from the same yard line. Sometimes played "7 on 7," with a full backfield and an abbreviated offensive line. secondary refers to the defensive "backfield", specifically the safeties and cornerbacks. Primarily responsible for pass coverage/defense. shield punt when 7 men line up on the line of scrimmage and immediately start to cover the punt while 3 offensive players stay to guard the punter. shift when two or more offensive players move at the same time before the snap. All players who move in a shift must come to a complete stop prior to the snap. shooting the action of a linebacker or defensive back to blitz shotgun formation formation in which offensive team may line up at the start of a play. In this formation, the quarterback receives the snap 5-8 yards behind the center. sideline 1. one of the lines marking each side of the field 2. as adjective: on the field near a sideline side zone the area between a hash mark and a sideline single wing a term used to describe a diverse set of formations, now out of fashion but highly popular between 1906 and World War II, that typically used an unbalanced line, direct snap, and one wingback. single wing(ed)-T a formation with 1 wingback & an adjoining tight end in which the center hands the ball to the quarterback, who holds his hands between the legs of the center. slant a receiver route. In the slant route, a receiver runs straight up field a few yards, plants his outside foot hard while in full stride, and turns 45 degrees towards the quarterback. A staple of the West Coast Offense(WCO) and the player may go as little as 2 yards or as many as 6 yards before moving inside for the pass. Variations include the quick slant in which the player plants and turns at the snap instead of running ahead first and the Slow or Zone route, in which the receiver runs 10 to 15 yards downfield to get behind the linebackers before turning. slobber-knocker a particularly gruesome tackle or hit. slot The area between a split end and the offensive line. A pass receiver lined up in the slot at the snap of the ball may be called a slotback or slot receiver. snap the handoff or pass from the center that begins a play from scrimmage. snap count the "hut" sound the quarterback will use to signal for the snap to be made. sneak an offensive play in which the quarterback, immediately on receiving the snap dives forward with the ball. The play is used when a team needs a very short gain to reach either the goal line or the line to gain. special teams the units that handle kickoffs, punts, free kicks and field goal attempts. Often manned by second and third team players. spike a play in which the quarterback throws the ball at the ground immediately after the snap. Technically an incomplete pass, it stops the clock. Note that a spike is not considered intentional grounding if it is done with the quarterback under center and immediately after the snap; the only "penalty" is that one down is sacrificed. Running a spike play presumes there will be at least one play by the same team immediately afterward; occasionally there is so little time left in the half or game that a quarterback whose first choice was to spike the ball may have to run a regular play instead, because the spike would run the clock out. There is at least one case of a quarterback in the NFL doing just that, although that quarterback's regular play failed. (In the January 1998 Rose Bowl, Ryan Leaf spiked the ball and inadvertently ran the clock out on that play.) split-T T formation in which the gaps between offensive guards & tackles are nearly twice as large as the gaps between the center & the guards. splits the distance between the feet of adjacent offensive linemen. Said to be wide, if there is a large gap between players, or narrow, if the gap is small. split end a player position on offense. A receiver who lines up on the line of scrimmage, several yards outside the offensive linemen. The term is now rarely used in American Football, having been long since replaced by the wide receiver or wideout, with no distinction between whether the receiver is on the line or not. squib kick a type of kickoff in which the ball is intentionally kicked low to the ground, typically bouncing on the ground a few times before being picked up. This is done in the hopes of preventing a long return, as the ball is often picked up by one of the upmen as opposed to the designated kickoff returner. starter a player who is the first to play his position within a given game or season. Depending on the position and the game situation, this player may be replaced or share time with one or more players later in the game. As an example, a quarterback may start the game but be replaced by a backup quarterback if the game becomes one-sided. A running-back may start the game but share time with another running back in specific situations or to provide the opportunity for rest during the game. sticks the pole attached to the end of the 10-yard chain that is used by the chain crew to measure for a new series of downs — i.e. the line to gain a new "first down". stiff-arm or straight-arm a ballcarrier warding off a would-be tackler by pushing them away with a straight arm. strong i a formation wherein the tailback is lined up deep directly behind the quarterback, and the fullback is lined up offset to the strong side of the formation. strong safety (SS) a kind of safety on defense, as opposed to a free safety. This is a central defensive back; originally, the term indicated that he lined up on the strong side of the field and covered the tight end. However, the modern usage of the term now indicates a central defensive back with responsibility for run and pass support, slightly favoring run support. strong side simplistically speaking, the side of the field (left or right) that has the most players, but it depends on the formations of the teams. When a team uses one tight end, the strong side is the side of the field where the tight end lines up. If the offensive package uses no tight end, or more than one tight end, the strong side is the side of the field with the most offensive players on or just behind the line of scrimmage. stuff A tackle of a ball carrier on a running play, behind the line of scrimmage. Compare to sack. stunt a tactic used by defensive linemen in which they switch roles in an attempt to get past the blockers. Both defenders will start with power rushes, with the stunting defender getting more of a push. The other lineman will then go around him, ideally using him as a pick to get free from his blocker. sweep a running play in which several blockers lead a running back on a designed play to the outside. Depending on the number of blockers and the design of the play this is sometimes referred to as a "power sweep" or "student-body-right" (or left). T formation a classic offensive formation with the quarterback directly behind the center and three running backs behind the quarterback, forming a 'T'. Numerous variations have been developed including the split-T, wing-T, and wishbone-T tackle the act of forcing a ball carrier to the ground take a knee see kneel. tackle box the area between where the two offensive tackles line up prior to the snap. tackle eligible a lineman that lines himself up in the position of an eligible receiver. three-and-out when an offensive team fails to gain a first down on the first three plays of a drive, and thus is forced to punt on fourth down. three-point stance a down lineman's stance with three points on the ground, in other words, his two feet and one of his hands three-point conversion A novelty play, in leagues such as the XFL and the proposed New USFL, that is nearly identical to the two-point conversion. A play that advances the ball into the end zone from the 10-yard line (as opposed to the 2 or 3 yard line in a two-point conversion) earns 3 points. time of possession the amount of time one team has the ball in its possession relative to the other team. Since there are 60 minutes in a non- overtime game, and one team or another always has possession of the ball, the two teams divide up the time with which they have the ball out of the 60 minutes. If one team has it 40 minutes the other will have it 20 and so forth. A time of possession advantage is seen as a positive thing and is highly correlative with a win or loss. Teams that dominate time of possession usually have good defenses (that can keep the opposing team's offense from mounting many long drives) and solid offenses (usually with good running games as running plays keep the clock running more often than passing plays). total offense is a statistic that combines yards rushing and yards passing. touchback the act of downing the ball behind one's own goal line on a kickoff or punt after the ball had been propelled over the goal by the opposing team. This can be accomplished by one of several ways: the receiving team player catching the ball in the endzone and dropping down to one knee; by the ball touching any part of the endzone; the ball carrying out of the endzone in any way without being possessed by either team. After a touchback, the team that downed it gets the ball at their own 20-yard line. touchdown a play worth six points, accomplished by gaining legal possession of the ball in the opponent's end zone or by the ball crossing the plane of the opponent's goal line with legal possession by a player. It also allows the team a chance for one extra point by kicking the ball or a two point conversion; see "try" below. trap a basic blocking pattern in which a defensive lineman is allowed past the line of scrimmage, only to be blocked at an angle by a "pulling" lineman. Designed to gain a preferred blocking angle and larger hole in the line. trick play Any of a variety of plays that use deception to catch the other team offguard. Famous trick plays include the fake punt (kick), "Statue of Liberty", flea-flicker, center-eligible, surprise on-side kick and halfback pass plays. These plays are often dangerous, as most upper level teams have too much skill and experience to be fooled for long. try A try is a scrimmage down which is neither timed nor numbered, awarded to a team who has just scored a 6 point touchdown, from close to their opponent's goal line (2-yard line in the NFL, 3 yard line NCAA & NFHS). The try allows the offense (and in some codes, the defense) to score an additional 1 or 2 points. Also called "try-for-point", "conversion", "convert" (Canadian), "extra point(s)", "point(s) after (touchdown)" or PAT. turn the ball over on downs When a team uses all four of their downs without either scoring or making a first down, they must relinquish the ball to the other team turnover The loss of the ball by one team to the other team. This is usually the result of a fumble or an interception. two-level defense a defense with only two, as opposed to the usual three, levels of defensive organization. Generally a much more aggressive defense than normal. two-minute warning a free time out given to both teams when there is two minutes left on the game clock in each half. Certain leagues may use different times for this warning. two-point conversion a play worth two points accomplished by gaining legal possession of the ball in the opponent's end zone, either via a run or pass, after a touchdown has been made; see "try" above unbalanced line usually refers to an offensive formation which does not have an equal number of linemen on each side of the ball. Done to gain a blocking advantage on one side of the formation; typically one tackle or guard lines up on the other side of the ball. For example a common alignment would be E-G-C-G-T-T-E. under center refers to the quarterback lining up directly behind the center to take the snap. Contrast with shotgun formation. upback a player, in a scrimmage kick (punts and field goals) or kneel formations, who lines up behind the offensive line. An upback's primary duty is to block oncoming defensive players in a kick formation and to recover any fumbles in a kneel formation. They can receive direct snaps, and upbacks are eligible receivers. upman during a kickoff, every player on the return team is called an "upman" with the exception of the one or two designated kickoff returners, who stand furthest away from the starting point of the kicking team. Veer a type of option offense using 2 backs in the backfield, one behind each guard or tackle (referred to as split backs), allowing a triple option play (give to either back or quarterback keep). weak i a formation wherein the tailback is lined up deep directly behind the quarterback, and the fullback is lined up offset to the weak side of the formation. weak side when one tight end is used, the side of the field opposite the tight end. In other offensive packages, the side of the field with the fewest offensive players on or just behind the line of scrimmage. wheel route a pass route in which the receiver, often a running back, travels parallel along the line of scrimmage and then takes off up the field. wide adjective meaning towards the sidelines. Example: A kick that is "wide right" has missed to the right side of the field from the perspective of the offense. wildcat offense An offensive philosophy that dictates that either a quarterback or a running back can receive a direct snap from the snapper; it is often compared to the single wing. win-loss The ratio of wins to loses, usually expressed as a pair of numbers. For example, 6-1 means 6 wins and 1 loss. wishbone a formation involving three running backs lined up behind the quarterback in the shape of a Y, similar to the shape of a wishbone. X-receiver Term used in play calling that usually refers to the split end, or the wide receiver that lines up on the line of scrimmage. For example, "Split Right Jet 529 X Post" tells the X-receiver to run a post route. Y-receiver Term usually used in offensive play calling to refer to the tight end. For example, "Buffalo Right 534 Boot Y Corner" tells the Y-receiver to run a corner route. Yard one yard of linear distance in the direction of one of the two goals. A field is 100 yards (120 when both end zones are included). Typically, a team is required to advance at least 10 yards in order to get a new set of downs. Identical in length to the standard unit of measurement (3 feet or 36 inches). yard line a marking on the field that indicates the distance (in yards) to the nearest goal line. Yardage The amount of yards gained or lost during a play, game, season, or career. Yards gained (see yardage) Yards from scrimmage The amount of yards gained by the offensive team advancing the ball from the line of scrimmage. Yellow flag a weighted yellow marker thrown onto the field by the officials to signify that a foul has been committed by either the offensive or defensive team (or sometimes both). Commonly referred to only as "flag."
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