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an artificial surface used instead of grass on many
verbal commands shouted by the quarterback to his
teammates at the line of scrimmage to change a play on short notice.
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 player gets past an opponent trying to block
or tackle him.
when a regional network TV affiliate is forbidden from
showing a local game because it is not sold out.
a play where the defensive team sends players rushing
towards the line of scrimmage as soon as the ball is snapped to
try to sack the quarterback.
the act of preventing a defensive player from getting to
the ball carrier; blockers use their arms and bodies but may not hold
a long pass thrown to a receiver sprinting down the
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.
Blocking an opponent below the waist from behind; this illegal
block is a personal foul, punishable by a 15-yard penalty.
a forward pass to a teammate who catches it in the
groups into which teams are divided in professional and
college football; the NFL is divided into National and American
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.
a ball becomes dead when a play is over and becomes live
as soon as it is snapped for the next play.
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.
when 2 defensive players cover one receiver.
one of 4 chances a team on offense has to gain 10 yards;
also, the state of a player who has just been tackled; also, a ball that
a player touches to the ground in the end zone to get a touchback.
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
when a quarterback, after taking the snap,
takes a few steps backward into an area called the pocket to get ready
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.
if a player (besides the center) is in the neutral zone
and contact occurs prior to the snap; a foul punishable by a 5-yard
the boundary line that runs the width of the field along
the area between the end line and goal line
bounded by the sidelines, which a team on offense tries to enter to
score a touchdown.
additional point(s) scored by a team after it has scored a
touchdown, either by a point-after-touchdown (1 point) or a 2-point
conversion (2 points).
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
a place kick that passes above the crossbar and
between the uprights of the goalpost, earning the team that kicked it 3
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.
a pass thrown by a team closer to the opponent’s goal
line; a team is allowed to throw only one forward pass per play, and it
must be thrown from behind the team’s line of scrimmage.
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
a type of kick taken to start or restart play after a team
has scored, with no defenders nearer than 10 yards away; includes a kickoff
and a kick after a safety.
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 line drawn across the width of the field, 10 yards
inside each end line, which a team must cross with the ball to score a touchdown.
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
going for it:
when a team facing a fourth down decides to try for a new first
down instead of punting; if it fails, it loses possession of
a running play where the quarterback hands the ball
to a back.
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.
the region of the field inside the sidelines and end
a forward pass that touches the ground before being
a foul called against a quarterback who
purposely throws an incomplete forward pass solely to avoid a sack;
cannot be called if the pass lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage.
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:
an imaginary line which no player may cross before the snap;
each team has its own line of scrimmage, separated by the neutral zone.
a player who starts each play within 1 yard of his line
a ball becomes live as soon as it is snapped or free
kicked (as in a kickoff); opposite of a dead ball.
a ball that is not in possession of either team,
such as after a fumble or a kickoff; it can be recovered by
a single player on the offense who is permitted to move
prior to the snap; he may only run parallel to the line of scrimmage
or away from it.
the 50-yard line, which divides the length of the field in
the imaginary line the offense must cross to achieve a new
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.
when any part of a player’s body is beyond his line of
scrimmage when the ball is snapped; a foul punishable by a
the term used to describe a team’s loss of possession
if it fails to reach the necessary line on a fourth down play.
a player who has no defender closely covering him.
out of bounds:
the region of the field touching or outside the sidelines
and end lines; as soon as a ball carrier or the ball itself
touches out of bounds, the play is over.
a defensive player who covers an opposing receiver.
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.
blocking by offensive players to keep defenders away from the quarterback
on passing plays.
a surge by defenders to get past blockers and sack
a foul that might cause injury; punishable by a
a lateral tossed from a quarterback to a
a kick towards the goalpost for a field goal
or extra point; held between the ground and another player’s finger.
a spurt of action that begins with a snap and ends
with a dead . ball
a clock displayed above each end zone that limits
the time teams may take between plays to 40 seconds (30 in college); the ball
must be snapped before the clock runs down to 0.
a passing play after the quarterback has faked a hand-off.
the post-season tournament that determines the NFL
the area behind the offensive line, where the quarterback
is protected by his blockers.
a place kick taken from the opponent’s 2-yard line
(3-yard line in college); awarded to a team that has scored a touchdown,
it is worth 1 point if it goes through the goalpost.
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 e nd zone’s 4
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:
recognition by the quarterback of the defensive
formation; he may then call an audible to adjust the offense.
an offensive player who catches or attempts to catch a forward
to gain or regain possession of a fumble.
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.
an attempt by a player who has just caught an interception,
punt, or kickoff to advance the ball the other way.
when a quarterback runs parallel to the line,
looking for a receiver.
a first-year player in the NFL.
a running play; also, a pass rush.
a tackle of the quarterback behind his line
when a ball carrier is tackled in his own end
zone after bringing the ball there under his own power; the defense earns 2
points and receives a free kick from the offense’s own 20-yard line.
evasive movements by a quarterback to avoid being sacked.
the group of 4 downs a team has to advance 10
the boundary line that runs the length of the field along
each side; a ball carrier or ball that touches or crosses the sideline
is out of bounds.
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
a ball passed or kicked with a spin which propels it
further with more accuracy; the ball points the same direction throughout its
a location on the field, determined by an official, to
mark forward progress or the place of a foul.
stiff arm (or straight arm):
a push by a ball carrier to ward off a tackler.
where the next play would start if no penalty was called.
the championship game of the NFL, played between
the champions of the AFC and NFC at a neutral site each January; it is the
culmination of the NFL playoffs.
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
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
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
when a team crosses the opponent’s goal line with
the ball, catches a pass in the opponent’s end zone, or recovers a loose
ball in the opponent’s end zone; earns a team 6 points .
the involuntary loss of possession of the ball
during a play, either by a fumble or by throwing an interception.
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.
a team that makes the NFL playoffs by having
one of the 2 best records among non- division winners in its conference.
the percentage of its games a team has won during a period
of time, given by the following formula:
Winning Percentage = (#wins + #ties/2)/(#games played)