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.
the act of preventing a defensive player from getting
to the ball carrier; blockers use their arms and
bodies but may not hold an opponent.
a long pass thrown to a receiver sprinting down
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 sudden change in direction taken by a to make
it more difficult for defenders to follow and tackle
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.
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
when a quarterback, after taking the snap, takes
a few steps backward into an area called the pocket
to get ready to pass.
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 penalty.
the boundary line that runs the width of the field
along each end.
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 points.
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
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
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 point.
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 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 ball that is not in possession of either team,
such as after a fumble or a kickoff; it can be recovered
by either team.
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 half.
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
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
when any part of a player’s body is beyond
his line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped;
a foul punishable by a 5-yard penalty.
a defensive player who covers an opposing receiver.
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 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
the post-season tournament that determines the NFL
to be holding or in control of the football.
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.
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
an offensive player who catches or attempts to catch
a forward pass.
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.
a running play; also, a pass rush.
a tackle of the quarterback behind his line of scrimmage.
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
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
when a player throws the ball at the ground to celebrate
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
contacting a ball carrier to cause him to touch
the ground with any part of his body except his
hands, thereby ending the play.
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.
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