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Football 101: Terms, Positions & More to Stay on Your Game

Football 101: Terms, Positions & More to Stay on Your Game

Football season is an exciting time for sports fans, fantasy football players and gracious hosts alike. But for those who are less savvy, the rules. lexicon and lingo can be more than a little bit confusing – even overwhelming. From trick plays to announcer jargon, there’s a lot to take in every given Sunday (Saturday, Monday and Thursday, too), so let’s stick to the basics.  

Review the football term glossary (which applies to NFL and college football) and when you’re hosting your next big game party or trying to hang at the sports bar, you’ll revel your friends and foes with your football knowledge.

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Football Glossary

Audible – A play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage (rather than in the huddle).

Automatic First Down When the defense commits a foul, in some cases, the offense will be rewarded a first down. This means they have a fresh four downs to make a play.

Backward Pass – Also referred to as a lateral, this kind of pass is not forward, but instead to someone behind the line of scrimmage.

Blitz – A defensive play when the linebackers charge the opponent’s backfield.

Block – When a player blocks another player with their body.

Bootleg – An offensive play that uses misdirection to confuse the defense. The quarterback pretends to hand off the ball, but instead carries it himself.  

Down – How the game is measured. First down is the first play and fourth is the last. The goal is to advance 10 yard within those four downs to restart the count.

End Zone – The area between the end line and the goal line. Once crossed with the ball, a touchdown occurs.

Extra Point – The single point that is scored after a touchdown or field goal.

Fair Catch – A complete catch of a kick. The player must signal by waving arms to dead the play at catch location.

Field Goal – Three points scored when a kick goes through the goal (rather than via kickoff or free kick).

Flag – The yellow flag thrown by the official to mark a foul. The red flag is thrown by the head coach to challenge a call.

Fourth Down Conversion – When a play that constitutes a first down is made in the fourth down.

Fumble – Lost possession of the ball.

Hail Mary A long pass play thrown toward receivers near the end zone. This play is usually a last resort as time runs out.

Huddle – The meeting that occurs before the play.

Icing the Kicker – When the opposite team calls a time out just before the snap to a kicker.

Incomplete Pass – Or simply, incomplete, is a forward pass that is not caught.

Interception – The legal catching of a forward pass thrown by an opposing player

Kickoff – The free kick which starts each half of the game or restarts after a touchdown or field goal.

Line of Scrimmage – The line where the ball is put into play. This changes throughout the game dependent where the ball is located.

Pass – A throw to another player.

Pick – an interception of a pass.

Pocket – The area that is formed by the blockers to prevent a sack.

Punt – A drop kick that is used when transitioning to the other team.

Reception – When the ball is caught in a play.

Red Zone – The area between the 20-yard line and the goal on the defensive side. This is a figurative term, as the field isn’t red.

Sack – When the quarterback is tackled while attempting to throw a forward pass.

Snap – The handoff between the center that begins the play.

Scramble – When the quarterback runs outside of the pocket to try to avoid being sacked.

Tackle – Taking a ball carrier to the ground by force.

Touchdown – Carrying the ball across the goal line results in six points.

Turnover – When the ball is lost to the other team, usually through a fumble or interception.

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American Football Positions

Offensive Positions

Quarterback (QB) – Controls the plays and often gets the ball from the center on the snap.

Offensive Linemen – The offensive linemen are three different positions: left tackle, left guard, center, right guard and right tackle. The center is the one who snaps the ball and is the captain of the offensive line.

Running Back – As the name implies, the running back runs with the ball during rushing plays. They are block for the QB in some cases.

Fullback – The fullback is another running back who also blocks for the running back.

Tight End (TE) – The tight end lines up next to the offensive line, but does the job of a wide receiver and an offensive lineman.

Wide Receiver (WR) – Wide receivers both block and carry the ball like a running back.

Defensive Positions

Defensive Linemen – There are three or four defensive lineman and they are on the line of scrimmage.

Linebacker (LB) – Linebackers line up behind the defensive line and are responsible for stopping running backs who break through the defensive line.

Cornerback (CB) – CBs cover the opposing team’s top recievers and line up on the outside of the rest of the defense.

Safety (S) – As the last line of defense, they play the farthest back and patrol the whole field.

Special Teams

Kicker (K) – Kickers are responsible for kicking the ball during the kickoff, for a field goal or for the extra point.

Punter (P) – The punter will only kick during the punt. In some cases, they’ll hold the ball for the kicker as well.

Kick Returner (KR) – The KR is responsible for catching the kickoff and running with it toward the end zone.

Punt Returner (PR) – Catches and in some cases returns the punt.

Long Snapper – A special center who snaps the ball during a punt or kick.

Football 101 Housewives-Style With Kenya and Kyle

Kenya and Kyle have been intertwined with football since they starred in the DIRECTV ad campaign with fellow housewife, Teresa Giudice and Cowboys players, Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb. To showcase all their football knowledge, the pair broke down some of the sport’s basics in a way we can all understand. 

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