Back to continue our Football 101 for newbie fans! If you missed yesterday’s post, that starts with Part 1, which you can read here. Whew, there’s so much to cover and trying to distill this down to the basics is tougher than I expected! Yesterday, we touched the very tip of the football iceberg and really, that’s all we’re going to do in this Football 101 series! My “goal” for this is to provide just a little help to new fans, and those that don’t follow the game, to prepare for Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, I know that was a sad, really bad pun, but it was low hanging fruit just there for the taking! On to Football 101, Part 2.
Let’s talk a little about the defense. It’s the job of the defensive team to stop the opposing team’s offense from scoring. The defense tries to stop both the “run” and stop the offense from making a “completed pass.” A completed pass means the quarterback throws the ball to another offensive player and the ball is caught in the field of play or in the end zone, for a touchdown. You’d THINK a completed pass would be pretty a standard thing, but it’s not. Will try to cover this a little on “Glossary” Day.
Some of the things defensive players do is tackle, “rush the passer,” which means go after the quarterback, try to “ intercept” the quarterback’s pass, try to “strip” the ball from an offensive player to create a “fumble,” which means the offensive player loses control of the ball. If the ball is fumbled, a defensive player can “recover” the ball. Defense can “sack” the quarterback. A sack is when a defensive player or players tackles the quarterback before he can make a forward pass of the ball behind the “line of scrimmage.” The line of scrimmage is the imaginary line between the offense and defense; the ball is on the line of scrimmage at the start of every play.
While defense is primarily responsible for stopping the opposing team’s offense from scoring, defense can and does score points. This happens when the defense recovers a fumble or intercepts a pass and runs the ball back to the opposing team’s end zone for a touchdown.
Defense is constantly working to keep the offense from getting the yards it needs for a 1st down. When an offense drives into the “red zone,” the defense is trying to stop the opposing team from scoring, create a “turnover” or “hold them to a field goal.” The “red zone” is the area between the 20 yard line and the goal line. The red zone isn’t marked on the field in any way, though broadcasters sometimes indicate it onscreen. When an opposing team is in the “red zone,” the probability of scoring is high. Creating a “turnover” means that the defense either intercepts the ball or causes the offense to fumble the ball and the defense recovers the ball. Holding them to a field goal means that the offense was not successful in scoring a touchdown in its four tries to do so or getting a 1st down (remember, four tries for a 1st down) and they are forced to kick a field goal.
This is probably a good time to talk about the ways a team can score points. They can score a touchdown, by either running or passing the ball into the end zone, which is 6 points. After a touchdown, a team has a chance to kick the ball through the “uprights” or goalposts for an extra point. If a team successfully kicks a “field goal” through the uprights, they score 3 points. After a touchdown, a team sometimes will try for a “2 point conversion.” This means that instead of kicking the ball through the uprights for an extra point, the quarterback will either pass the ball or an offensive player will run the ball into the end zone for 2 extra points. The 2-point conversion attempt starts at the 2-yard line. The defensive team can also score 2 points with a “safety.” This gets a little complicated to explain, but just so you’re familiar with the term, an example is when the offensive player with the ball gets tackled in his own end zone or on certain offensive penalties.
After a team scores a touchdown, a 2-point conversion or a field goal, the team that just scored again kicks off the ball to the opposing team. If a field goal is missed, the opposing team gets the ball at the spot of the attempted kick, if the kick was attempted beyond the 25-yard line. If the attempted field goal kick is missed inside of the 25-yard line, the offense gets the ball at the 25-yard line.
You’ll hear a lot about managing the clock, running down the clock and similar phrases. This is especially important in games where the score is very close in the fourth quarter. A team that is leading will try to use all of its allotted time for every play in an effort to take as much time as possible off the clock before the opposing team gets the ball back. The score can literally change in a matter of seconds!
One last thing to share is about overtime. If a game ends in a tie, the game goes into overtime. Game announcers typically always share the overtime rules, though here’s a quick overview. There’s another coin toss to determine which team gets the ball first on offense. If the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown, the game is over. If the team who has the ball first scores a field goal, the game continues; the opposing team gets the ball and a chance to score a touchdown. If the opposing team scores a touchdown, they win and the game is over. If they score a field goal, the game remains tied and continues. If neither team scores on its first possession in overtime, the first team to score, either a touchdown, field goal or safety, wins and the game is over. Overtime continues in 15-minute quarters until there is a winner. That’s why sometimes you’ll hear a game was won in “double-overtime.”
Tomorrow is “Glossary Day,” where we’ll cover a some penalties and other terms you’ll probably hear during Sunday’s game. I would love to hear if this has been helpful! As always, thank you SO much for stopping by!
5 days until Super Bowl Sunday!