Football 201: Increase your Football IQ

Dedicated to my dad, my baby sister and my beloved dudes who patiently answer all my questions and who were the inspiration (and fact-checkers) for this post. #blessed

As the 50th Super Bowl (aka awesome commercials that everyone talks about at work on Monday, featuring football) approaches, you probably know the bare essentials of the beautiful game of football.

  • Hot men in tight pants
  • The dude who throws the ball is the quarterback
  • He’s probably throwing the ball to a running back or a wide receiver (or Tight End. tehe)
  • Who is hoping to score a touchdown (6 points) before the defense tackles (the WR or RB) or
  • sacks (the QB) There are 4 downs in a series, then it’s the other teams turn (this is a little misleading, you
  • have 4 downs to move 10 yards, to get another 4 downs to move another 10 yards. If you don’t get the yards, then it’s the other teams turn)
  • The team with the most points at the end wins

Despite the fact that I was undefeated in my fantasy football league this year, there is still a LOT of football left to be learned.  But if you are looking to up your football IQ this year, you have found the right spot. Now the student becomes the teacher.

Football 201

False Start vs. Offsides: False start is when the offense moves before the play starts. Offsides is when the defense moves past the line of scrimmage (the imaginary line where the ball is placed) before the play start.

Fumble vs. Incomplete Pass  vs. Pass Interference: A fumble is any time someone possesses the ball and loses control. Without clear possession, a dropped, forward pass it is considered an incomplete pass. If the defense prevents the receivers from being able to catch the ball, it is considered an incomplete pass and a Pass Interference penalty is awarded. Pass Interference is the defense preventing the catch in an illegal manner (like touching the other player before the ball arrives mostly).

Touch Back: A touch back occurs when the ball is “dead” behind the team’s own goal line (end zone). This almost always occurs during kickoff or a punt. When this happens, the team gets the ball (first down) on their 20-yard line (this is what they want to happen). If you see the receiving team diving into the end zone to prevent this from happening, it is because they want the ball to start where it lands, on the 5 yard line, for example, versus the 20 yard line.

Fair Catch: If you see a receiver (dude catching the ball) wave his arm from side to side during a kickoff, he is signaling a “fair catch”. This would allow him to catch the ball without interference from the defense aka they can’t tackle him or interfere with his ability to field the punt. Once the ball is caught, the ball is dead and the offense commences the first down from there. Penalties are given out if the receiver runs with the ball or fakes the signal or if the defense makes a tackle.

Onside kick: After each touchdown and at the beginning of each quarter, the offense kicks off. In some instances, the kicking team will kick the ball short, in the hopes that their own team can recover the ball. Rather than kicking it as far as possible from their own goal. This kick must go at least 10 yards in a forward motion, at which point it can be recovered by either team.

2pt conversion: Usually after a touchdown is scored, the offensive team kicks a field goal to receive 1 point. But sometimes, the offense decides to “go for two”. In this instance, the offense sets up on the 2 yard line and tries to basically score another touchdown, that is worth…well…two points. This is harder than it looks and has a much lower conversion rate than kicking a field goal. The defense can score a defensive two-point conversion by returning a blocked extra point kick.

Real quick: Touchdown equals 6 points. 7 points with a successful field goal or 8 points with a successful 2 point conversion.

Safety: You can also score two points with a safety. A safety occurs when the ball carrier (offense) gets tackled in their own end zone. When this happens, the defense is awarded 2 points. A safety can also be rewarded if a foul is committed by the offense in their own end zone.

Coaches Challenge: Penalty flags are yellow and thrown when a referee witnesses a penalty committed by either team. A red flag can be thrown if the coach doesn’t agree with the call on the field at any point before the two-minute warning (last two minutes of each half, in which all questionable plays are automatically reviewed).  There are a few plays that aren’t reviewable, but all turnovers and scoring plays are automatically reviewed. The refs then reviews the play on instant replay and either confirm or deny the original call.

Each coach has 2 challenges available, unless he wins both challenges, in which he will receive a 3rd challenge flag. The challenge must be called before the next snap to be valid. If the challenge is unsuccessful, the team loses a timeout and the coach must have an available timeout remaining to call a challenge.

Decline Plenty: A coach can also decide to “decline” a penalty. This one is puzzling to me, but the short answer is that the offensive team can decline a penalty incurred by the defense if the play (with the foul) will leave them in a better place than re-doing the down and accepting the penalty down. Still confused? Me too.

Let’s say that the Broncos have the ball and the Panthers defense commits a penalty. But was still able to get Demaryius Thomas the ball 15 yards down the field. The Broncos have two options: Accept the penalty and restart the down from where the started (3rd down on the 35 yard line) or decline the penalty and start with a first down on the 50 yard line). In a nut shell, some times there are play outcomes that are more beneficial to the team than accepting the penalty.

Hair Pulling: Speaking of penalties, forget what your mamma told you, hair pulling is legal. But only when the player has the ball. This isn’t 5th grade recess.

Lateral Pass: A lateral pass is when the ball is passed backwards.A forward pass (the type a QB typically throws) can only occur behind the line of scrimmage, a lateral can happen anywhere on the field. A lateral is often executed when passing off the ball to a running back or to quickly change directions in a trick play. Like this miracle play:

All in favor of more trick plays, say “aye”.

Congrats! You have just up’d your football knowledge. Now go forth and impress your friends and family with your new found football knowledge!

Stay tuned for more Super Bowl 50 facts. Coming soon.

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