In this text, I explain the terms you need to know to understand American football rules better, comparing them to amusing everyday situations. Yes, it’s an incredibly complex sport with a lot of rules, tactics, and strategies that can be quite confusing. You’ll see, once you’ve read this text, you’ll finally grasp the game, and most importantly, you’ll have fun watching an American football game!
Here are the key terms to remember:
Yard: 1 yard = 0.91 meters. On the field, the space between each white line represents 5 yards, with each number marking 10 yards. The total field length is 120 yards, including the two 10-yard end zones.
Let’s make it simpler. 1 yard is precisely equivalent to the length of three 12-inch submarines. So, the total field length is 360 submarines of 12 inches each.
Punt: A punt is a kick used mainly on fourth down to send the ball as far as possible into the opponent’s area. This strategy is often employed when the team with the ball hasn’t advanced the required 10 yards to get a new set of downs and proceed toward the opponent’s end zone. After the punt, they’ll have to wait for their next possession to try to score a touchdown.
It’s like procrastinating tasks because you’re tired or too full to muster the energy to get things done. For instance, cleaning the garage and mowing the lawn. Eventually, it needs to be done! But it’s already noon, you can’t find your extension cord for the lawnmower, the sun is shining brightly outside, and your buddies just invited you to join them on a patio… Let’s do it tomorrow!
Quarterback sack : A quarterback sack happens when the quarterback is tackled behind the offensive line without having time to run or pass the ball.
I liken this to a Monday morning after a long three-day weekend. It hurts.
Fumble: A fumble is when a player loses control of the ball, causing it to fall to the ground. After a fumble, both teams can attempt to recover possession. If the defensive team recovers the ball first, they switch to offensive mode.
Setting the scene: You’re with friends, watching a game on TV, feeling a bit peckish, and you notice there’s just one chicken wing left on the plate. You slowly raise your eyes and make eye contact with your buddies – they’ve all spotted the single remaining chicken wing. That’s a fumble!
Huddle: The huddle is the players’ gathering before a play, during which the quarterback announces the next tactic to outsmart the opponent.
It’s like when your significant other is extra nice, cuddly, and complimentary just to convince you to go apple picking.
Blitz: A blitz is a technique that involves putting intense pressure on the opposing team’s offensive line to outnumber them and sack the quarterback.
I compare this to when your mother-in-law seizes every opportunity to pressure you into proposing to her daughter, with the ultimate goal of having a grandchild.
Interception: As the name suggests, an interception occurs when a defensive player catches the ball after a pass from the quarterback. The team that intercepts the ball switches from defense to offense.
I draw a parallel here when you’re driving absentmindedly and take a wrong exit. You blink, suddenly find yourself in traffic heading in the wrong direction, and you have to take a massive detour to finally arrive (late) at your destination.
Touchdown: A touchdown is when a team gains possession of the ball in the opponent’s end zone. This scores a hefty 6 points.
It’s that feeling you get when you step into your home on a Friday night after a long, tough work week and pop open a beer or a nice bottle of wine… Touchdown!
Extra point: The extra point is a kick attempted from the 15-yard line after a touchdown, worth 1 point.
It’s like when you order 6 chicken nuggets and end up with 7. Are they advance servings from the waitress or just a mistake? We’ll never know! But it’s still quite enjoyable!
Two-point conversion: A two-point conversion is when the team that scored a touchdown decides not to attempt the standard extra point kick and instead tries to cross the goal line again for an additional point through a run or pass. However, if the team fails to reach the end zone, they score no points.
It’s somewhat similar to the free nugget example, but with a bolder twist. You become the master of your own fate. You choose whether to get yourself into a predicament! Should you have another beer or head home? Ah, that infamous moral dilemma that every man on Earth has faced. If you leave now, you might miss a highlight of the evening, but if you stay, you risk arriving late at your mother-in-law’s birthday dinner and disappointing your partner once again. She’s still not over you forgetting the gifts and turkey at last year’s Christmas party.
Field goal: A field goal is an attempt to kick the ball between the opposing team’s goalposts when the team doesn’t believe it can make it to the end zone for a touchdown. This scores 3 points.
I see it as a shortcut, an easier task to accomplish. The best example that comes to mind is when you use duct tape to fix something instead of going to the hardware store to buy the necessary screws.
Safety: A safety occurs when an offensive player is tackled in their own end zone. In this case, the attacking team concedes 2 points and must then punt the ball.
Everyone has said, “I have time, my appointment is in 30 minutes,” even when your partner reminded you multiple times to leave a bit early in case of unexpected delays. And as fate would have it, you can’t find your keys, there’s an accident on the freeway, and there’s no parking available. That’s a safety.
So there you have it! I hope this brief explanatory text has helped you better understand the rules of American football! Enjoy the game!