an artificial surface used instead of grass on many football fields.
the area behind the line of scrimmage.
the running backs; the halfback and the fullback.
any player who has possession of the ball.
when a regional network TV affiliate is forbidden from showing a local game because it is not sold out.
a college football game played in late-December or early-January, after the regular season, between two successful teams.
a technique used by pass defenders, where they hit a receiver once within 5 yards (1 yard in college) of the line of scrimmage to slow him down, and then follow him to prevent him from catching a pass.
Call a play:
instruct players to execute a pre-planned play.
a forward pass to a teammate who catches it in the air.
groups into which teams are divided in professional and college football; the NFL is divided into National and American Conferences.
Controlling the game clock:
the use of tactics by an offensive team to either save or use up time on the game clock, which often dictates its choice of plays.
Cover or coverage:
preventing a player from gaining yards; in pass coverage, a defender follows a receiver to prevent him from catching a pass; in kick coverage, members of the kicking team try to prevent a long kick return.
a sudden change in direction taken by a to make it more difficult for defenders to follow and tackle him.
in the NFL, sub-groups within conferences, such as the Eastern, Northern, Southern and Western Divisions; also, a grouping of teams in college football, where Division I contains the most competitive teams and Division III the least.
Down the field:
in the direction of the opponent’s goal line.
a player chosen by a professional sports team from a pool of college players in an annual draft.
the series of plays a team puts together in an attempt to score.
a type of free kick where a player drops the ball and kicks it right after it hits the ground; rarely used today.
a player allowed by the rules to catch a forward pass; all offensive players are eligible except linemen and the quarterback, who must notify the referee if they wish to become eligible and stand at least one yard behind the line of scrimmage before the snap.
the boundary line that runs the width of the field along each end.
when a kick returner decides only to catch a punt or kickoff and not advance it, protecting himself from being hit by an opponent; he signals for a fair catch by raising one hand in the air and waving it.
the location of a team on the field relative to the two goal lines; good field position for a team is near its opponent’s goal line, while bad field position is close to its own goal line.
the first chance out of 4 that a team on offense has to advance 10 yards down the field; as soon as it gains those yards, it earns a new first down.
the location to which a ball carrier has advanced the ball, even if he was pushed backwards after getting there.
a violation of football’s rules by a team or player, punishable by a penalty.
a team; the legal arrangement that establishes ownership of a team.
a player whose contract with his most recent team has expired, allowing him to sign a new contract with any team that makes him an offer.
when a ball carrier loses possession by dropping the ball or having it knocked away before a play ends; the first player to regain possession of the loose ball is said to make the recovery, and his team becomes the offense.
a tall metallic structure that stands at the back of each end zone; consists of a crossbar and two uprights that extend upward from it, supported directly above the end line by a base; teams try to kick the ball above the crossbar and between the uprights to score a field goal or extra point.
Going for it:
the length of time a punt is in the air.
an award presented annually by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York to the best college football player in the country.
a foul where a player impedes the movement of an opponent by grasping or hooking any part of his body or uniform; punishable by a penalty — 10 yards if against the offense, 5 yards (10 yards in college) plus a first down if against the defense.
Home field advantage:
the benefit a team gets by playing games in the area where it is based, due to fan support, familiarity with its surroundings and the lack of required travel.
a game played in a team’s own stadium.
a forward pass that touches the ground before being caught.
a pass caught in the air (picked off) by a defender whose team immediately gains possession of the ball and becomes the offense.
when a player kicks a ball from a tee at his own 30-yard line (35 in college) to the opposing team, whose player tries to advance it the other way; used to start the game, the second half and overtime, and to restart play after each score.
a pass thrown to a teammate backwards from the team’s line of scrimmage or parallel to it; unlike a forward pass (which can be thrown only once per play), players may lateral the ball as often as they want.
Line of scrimmage:
a player who starts each play within 1 yard of his line of scrimmage.
the 50-yard line, which divides the length of the field in half.
the imaginary line the offense must cross to achieve a new first down.
the region that contains the ball as it sits on the ground before each play; the area between the two lines of scrimmage.
NFL (National Football League):
the major professional football league in the U.S. with 32 teams; its headquarters are in New York.
the game held from 1933 through 1965 to decide the champion of professional football; renamed the Super Bowl in 1966.
when a defense brings in a 5th defensive back to replace a linebacker on the field, increasing its pass coverage.
the team that committed a foul.
a player who has no defender closely covering him.
Out of bounds:
Pass patterns or pass routes:
pre-determined paths receivers follow to help the passer quickly locate them so he can more easily get them the ball.
a foul that might cause injury; punishable by a 15-yard penalty.
the post-season tournament that determines the NFL champion.
to be holding or in control of the football.
where the ball was snapped to begin the last play.
when a player 10 yards behind the center catches a snap, drops it and kicks it before it hits the ground; an opponent tries to catch and advance it the other way.
a short orange marker at each of the end zone’s 4 corners.
the leader of a team’s offense, he takes the snap from the center and either hands the ball to a running back to run with, passes it to a receiver or runs with it himself; he also communicates each play to his teammates.
Reading the defense:
an offensive player who catches or attempts to catch a forward pass.
a designation given to a college player who did not play in any games during a particular year due to injury or coach’s choice; such a player is permitted to practice with the team during that season and is granted an additional year of eligibility; most often used to describe college freshmen who are held out of games their first year to mature, becoming “red shirt freshmen” in their second or sophomore year of college.
the imaginary area between the defense’s 20-yard line and its goal line from which the offense is most likely to score points.
a first-year player in the NFL.
a running play; also, a pass rush.
the group of 4 downs a team has to advance 10 yards.
a tournament where a team is eliminated after one loss.
when the center while facing forward quickly hands the ball between his legs to a player standing behind him (usually the quarterback) to start each play.
the group of players who participate in kicking plays.
when a player throws the ball at the ground to celebrate a touchdown.
a ball passed or kicked with a spin which propels it further with more accuracy; the ball points the same direction throughout its flight.
Stiff arm (or straight arm):
where the next play would start if no penalty was called.
a player position on both the offensive and defensive lines; there is usually a left and right offensive tackle, and a left and right defensive tackle; See also tackling.
contacting a ball carrier to cause him to touch the ground with any part of his body except his hands, thereby ending the play.
the half of the field a team protects against its opponents.
when the offense faces a third down and is more than a short running play away from a first down; usually third-and-5 or greater.
when a player who gains possession of a ball in his own end zone kneels to the ground and automatically starts the next play at his own 20-yard line; also awarded if his opponent kicks the ball across the end line.
when a team that just scored a touchdown starts a play at the opponent’s 2-yard line (3-yard line in college) and crosses the goal line to earn 2 points; when successful, it looks just like a touchdown; introduced to the NFL in 1994.
the percentage of its games a team has won during a period of time, given by the following formula:
Winning Percentage Formula= (#wins + #ties/2)/(#games played)