Terms and Rules to Know Before NFL Football Season Starts
With the NFL preseason set to kickoff on August 4, 2022, now is a great time to touch-up on your NFL terms and rules.
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve watched football or maybe you’ve just decided that this is the year you’re going to learn some of the rules. Whatever the case may be, we wanted to put together a quick list of terms and general rules that you should know when watching football this fall season.
Football may seem confusing to those that don’t know the rules, but the idea of the game is very simple. In order to score points, a team must either cross the goal line with the ball or kick the ball through the uprights at the back of the endzone. A different number of points are awarded for the different types of scoring plays and each team has four attempts to move the ball ten yards on the field.
Sounds easy right?
Unfortunately, there’s a bit more to it than that. There are penalties that can occur, there are ways to extend your time of possession down the field, and there is even a way to score points if you’re on the defensive side.
Once you understand the basic rules the game of football is fairly easy to follow, so let’s take a look at some of those basic rules so you can follow along this NFL season!
NFL Terms You Should Know
Blitz – A blitz is a defensive play that puts aggressive pressure on the quarterback. It typically means that the defense is taking more players and rushing them at the quarterback instead of covering the other offensive players.
End Zone – The end zone is the points on the football field where the players are trying to get the ball. Once the ball crosses the goal line into the end zone it is considered a touchdown and the offensive team receives 6 points and has the opportunity for 1-2 extra points depending on the play they call.
Extra Point – After a touchdown is scored, the offensive team has the option to kick the ball through the goal posts resulting in an extra point for that team.
Fair Catch – During a kickoff the defensive player who is assigned to catch the ball can signal for a fair catch by raising his arm while the ball is still in the air. If the player signals a fair catch it means that his team will start on offense wherever he catches the ball, and the other team cannot tackle him as he’s catching the kick. If they do it’s a penalty and the ball will be moved forward.
Field Goal – A field goal is when the team with the ball is close enough to the end zone that they can kick the ball through the uprights instead of trying to run or pass it to a player. A field goal results in three points for the offense.
Fumble – When the team offensive team loses control of the ball, this is called a fumble. A fumble can be recovered by either team, and whoever recovers the ball is then on offense. A player must have full control of the ball and then have it come loose for it to be considered a fumble, and the quarterback’s arm must not be in the forward throwing motion.
Hail Mary – A hail Mary is a passing play that is usually performed when the offense is far away from the end zone and time is running out. It’s a last ditch effort play to throw the ball up towards the end zone in hopes that someone on your team comes down with it for the score. These plays usually happen towards the end of the game or the end of a half.
Huddle – The huddle is the name for when the players gather together before a play to discuss which play they are going to run.
Line of Scrimmage – The line of scrimmage is the imaginary line on the field, extending from sideline to sideline, that indicates where the ball is placed and where the offense must line up behind.
Onside Kick – An onside kick is where the kicking team tries to kick the ball in a way that they can recover it for themselves. The ball must travel 10 yards or be touched by a member of the opposing team before the kicking team can attempt to recover it. If they do recover an onside kick they remain on offense.
Pocket – The pocket is the area where the quarterback stands during a play. It’s the area protected by the linemen.
Punt – A punt is when the offensive team is not close enough to the end zone to try for a scoring play (whether it’s a field goal or a touchdown), so they opt to kick the ball to the other team. This typically results in the other team getting the ball further away from their scoring zone.
Sack – A sack is when the quarterback is tackled without getting rid of the ball after the snap.
Snap – This is when the center on the offense takes the ball between his legs and pushes it back to the quarterback.
Touchdown – A touchdown is the result of the offensive team getting the football across the goal line into the end zone resulting in 6 points. After a touch down the scoring team as the option to kick for an extra point or run an extra play for the chance at two points.
Two Point Conversion – A two-point conversion can be attempted after a touchdown is scored. This is run like any other play, but the offense only gets one attempt to score in order to receive two points.
Touchback – On the kickoff, if the ball goes into the end zone and the receiving team takes a knee, or if the ball goes out of the end zone, then the receiving team does not have to run the ball out and instead takes the ball on the 20 yard line.
NFL Rules to Know
Face Mask Penalty – Players are not allowed to grab onto another players face mask while attempting a block or tackle. Doing so will result in a penalty.
False Start – A false start occurs when the offensive team moves towards the line of scrimmage before the ball has been snapped.
Holding – While blocking, players are not to grab onto the other player’s jersey and hold them back in an attempt to give their players room to maneuver.
Intentional Grounding – This is when the quarterback intentionally throws the ball away in order to prevent losing yards due to a blitz or an incoming sack. The ball must be thrown in the direction of a receiving player, otherwise it is ruled as intentional grounding.
Offsides – This penalty occurs when players are on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. Defensive players don’t have to become set before a play is made, so they can jump across the line of scrimmage as long as they make it back to their side before the ball is snapped.
Pass Interference – This penalty can be called on both the offense and the defense when one player interferes with the receivers attempt to catch a thrown ball. This can include holding, tripping, and pushing.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – This penalty occurs when a player becomes too physical after a play has been blown dead by the referee or violates the general rules of sportsmanship when playing the game.
NFL Football Season 2022
While these aren’t all of the terms and rules that one would need to know when playing the game of football, they will give you a better understanding of the game and what’s happening on the field.
We can’t wait for the 2022 NFL season to begin!