User:Strongbad/North American Football/Glossary

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This is a glossary explaining the jargon used in football.

  • away team

See "visiting team."

  • blitz

A blitz is a play where the defense brings up players away from the line of scrimmage in order to attack the quarterback. The idea behind blitzing is to force a bad pass or get a sack, where the quarterback is tackled before he lets go of the ball.

  • challenge

In some versions of football, including NFL football, a coach or an official from the booth can challenge the referee's call on the field, which is traditionally designated by the throwing of a red flag. During the challenge, the referee watches the replay for two minutes and either lets the call stand or overturns it. If a coach issues a challenge and the call stands, that coach's team loses a timeout, if one remains. A team gets a 15-yard penalty if its coach issues a challenge in the last two minutes of a half. A team can only call two challenges during one half. Although the referee's decision is up to him, he needs clear visual evidence to overturn a call. Nonetheless, the referee's call can make him seem biased, and he can lose credibility.

  • conference

A conference is a set of teams in the same league. In the NFL, there are two conferences:the American Football Conference(AFC) and the National Football Conference(NFC). In the NCAA, there are many more.

  • cornerback (CB)

Cornerbacks tend to start near the line of scrimmage and guard against passes to particular receivers, even though they can blitz the quarterback on particular plays.

  • defense

The meaning of defense is not clear cut. Some people may define it as the team that does not have possession of the ball, and others may define it as the team that does not start the play with possession of the ball. Still others may define it as the team with defensive players on the field. The first syllable is accented.

  • defensive back (DB)

A defensive back is a player whose main job is to block the pass. They tend to be smaller and faster than linebackers, and they are separated into cornerbacks and safeties.

  • defensive line

The defensive line normally consists of the biggest players on the defensive side of the ball. They start right in front of the offensive line, and their job is to stop running plays and put pressure on the quarterback.

  • down

Each down indicates how close a team is to losing the ball, and the offense has four downs to cross the first down marker and get a new first down. A down is lost after almost every play, but some penalties can cause the down to be repeated.

  • end zone

Each team has an end zone, which is the decorated 10-yard area on each end of the football field.

  • extra point

An extra point is like a field goal, but it is kicked right after a touchdown from a specified yard line near the opponents' end zone.

  • FD

"FD" is an abbreviation of "first down." See "down."

  • field goal (FG)

If a team attempts to kick the football through its opponents' crossbar, it is said to kick a field goal. The field goal is deemed to be "good" if the ball flies over the horizontal bar, and the kicking team receives three points and kicks off; otherwise, it is "no good."

  • forced fumble

If a defensive player pulls the ball from a player's hands, the fumble is said to be a forced fumble.

  • fullback (FB)

The fullback can run with the ball, but his primary job is to block for the halfback. He may get the ball if the team needs a few yards.

  • fumble

If a player has control of the ball and loses it before his knees hit the ground, the player is said to fumble and the ball can be claimed by any player on the field as long as it is in play.

  • halfback (HB)

The halfback is the running back who usually runs with the ball on running plays and tends to be smaller and faster than the fullback.

  • home field advantage

When a team hosts a game, it is said to have home field advantage.

  • home team

The team that hosts the game is called the home team.

  • interception (INT)

If a defensive player catches the ball before his knees touch the ground, the ball is intercepted and the defense gains possession.

  • kickoff

A kickoff occurs when a team must kick to another team. The kicking team generally must keep the ball from crossing the sidelines.

  • linebacker (LB)

The linebackers are behind the defensive line in defensive plays, and they tend to be smaller and faster than defensive linemen, but bigger and slower than defensive backs. They defend the run and the pass.

  • National Football League(NFL)

The NFL is the major professional football league in North America and arbiter of professional football as it is mainly known.

  • offense

Like "defense," the meaning of "offense" is not quite clear. The offense is either the team with possession of the ball, the team that starts off with the ball, or the team with offensive players on the field.

  • offensive line

The offensive line starts out at the line of scrimmage, with the center in the middle snapping the ball to the quarterback. It blocks defenders to keep them from tackling the running back and give the quarterback enough time to find an open receiver and throw an accurate pass.

  • onside kick

If a team kicks the football to the side in order to get the ball back, the kick is known as an onside kick. It is possible for the receiving team to tell when an onside kick is being performed because the kicking team will line up mostly on one side of the field.

  • playoffs

The playoffs are a tournament designed to have the teams with the best seasons compete(for more details, check out the football season chapter).Although it is a single elimination tournament, it is not a pure bracket system in the NFL because twelve teams compete.

  • point after touchdown(PAT)

See "extra point."

  • possession

The team that has control of the ball is said to have possession of the ball. This team, outside a safety, is the only team able to score.

  • punt

If the offense kicks the ball to the defense in a situation where the offense has the option to go for it, the kick is known as a punt.

  • quarterback (QB)

The quarterback is the leader of the offense and normally starts behind the center. For more information about offensive positions, go to the appropriate chapter.

  • referee

The referee is one of the officials. He is the highest arbiter of calls on the field.

  • running back (RB)

A running back is a person who normally carries the ball for yardage on running plays. This is either a halfback or fullback.

  • squib kick

A squib kick is a kick where the ball flies lower than usual. It is likely to be a compromise between the onside and standard kicks.

  • Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the championship game in the NFL playoffs. In the Super Bowl, one team is the AFC champion and one team is the NFC champion.

  • tailback

See "halfback."

  • tight end

Tight ends are players that begin plays on either side of the defensive line. They can block or catch passes.

  • touchback

If the ball falls into a team's end zone and bounces without being caught, a member of that team touches the end zone with the ball without first being outside the end zone, or an intercepting player is tackled before being outside his end zone, it is said to be a touchback and that team starts from its own 20 yard line. In college football, if a pylon (the short red sticks at the corners of the end zone) is touched with the football, that end zone's team gets a touchback.

  • touchdown (TD)

If a member of one team catches or carries the ball in the opponents' end zone without being called out of bounds, the team with the ball scores a touchdown, which is worth six points, and an opportunity to score more points in an extra point or two point conversion.

  • two point conversion

After a touchdown, the scoring team may attempt a two point conversion, where the offense gets one play to reach the opponents' end zone from a specified yard line, normally the 2 or 3 yard line. If the defense gains possession, what happens varies from game to game. In some games(including NFL games), the attempt is "no good" if a defensive player obtains possession of the ball. In others, the defense can return the ball to the far end zone for two points.

  • visiting team

The team that does not host the game is called the visiting or away team.

  • wide receiver (WR)

The wide receivers may be the most important players on the offense except for the quarterback. They usually catch the ball on passing plays, but they may also try to lure cornerbacks and safeties away from the line of scrimmage on run plays. Receivers are getting taller in pro football, so cornerbacks are having a harder time stopping the pass.

  • wild card team

A wild card team is one of the two teams in an NFL conference with the best standings that are not champions of their divisions.

  • Wild Card Weekend

In Wild Card Weekend, each wild card team plays against a division champion, and the champion hosts the game.

  • wingback

See "halfback."