There’s nothing more annoying than trying to get an avid sports fan to answer your questions about a sport while they’re wrapped up in a game, because let’s face it — not all of us are football gurus. Here are some explanations for those who feel a little lost when they walk into the stadium.
1. The QB
Arguably the most important guy on the team; the quarterback is the one who calls the shots. He lets the team know which play to execute and when it starts. When the quarterback is tackled before he gets rid of the ball, it’s called a sack — and it will probably cause plenty of screaming from both sides as well as a loss of a down. The QB is also the guy who throws the ball downfield to receivers or hands the ball off to the running back on run plays.
2. The snap
The snap is the action that starts the play. The center squats in front of the quarterback and either hands or throws the QB the ball, “snap- ping” it at the right time, depending on the play. He has to pay attention because if he snaps it at the wrong time, the quarterback may not control the ball and the team could be penalized with a false start or fumble the ball and lose possesion. Or, If the snap is too late and the play clock runs out, the team could be penalized with a delay of game charge and loss of a down.
3. The down
A down is a team’s attempt to get down the field. If it can’t gain 10 yards within four tries (or four downs), the ball is turned over to the other team. You’ll hear a lot of phrases like “first-and-10,” which means that the team is on its first attempt of that series (each set of four downs is a series) and has 10 yards to go. So, if the offense runs the ball and gains four yards, the next play would be referred to as second- and-6. As long as a team advances past the first down marker (an orange pole with a box that displays what down it is), it can keep the ball until it scores a touchdown, elects to kick a field goal, punts or turns the ball over.
4. The scoring
Touchdowns are the name of the game — when a team gets into the opposing team’s end zone, either by running or throwing, it scores six points. After that, the team may either kick for an extra point (one point), or it can try to get the ball into the end zone again for a two-point conversion. A safety is when a team earns two points after the team with possession of the ball is tackled
In their own end zone. If the team gets close to the endzone but can’t seem to get the ball in there, it can also kick a field goal, which is worth three points.