By Max Ramos-Paez
Max continues offering us his insight to the game of American Football, as he for all your newcomers he brings us part 1 of a 2 piece look at the rules of American Football!
In the first three installments the general structures of the biggest three levels of “gridiron” were explained plus some facets of the game. Today, a more indepth guide to the rules of the game will be provided so that you may enjoy this game we Americans love.
Now to make it easy to understand, let’s compare gridiron to football and rugby. Like football, in gridiron there are 22 players on the field, 11 for each team. But unlike in football, in gridiron one team’s 11 players only have offensive responsibilities to score, while the other team’s 11 have defensive responsibilities to prevent the other team from scoring, but they can also score.
The game is always played on a 120 yard (109.7 meter) long and 53.3 yard (49 meter) wide field. This is slightly longer and narrower than a football pitch. Yard markers are labeled in the inner 100 yards with large numbers signifying the 10 yard intervals number from 10 to 50 on each side of the field.
The last ten yards of each end is known as the “end zone” and only in those areas can a team score the maximum amount of points in a play:six. This six point score is called a “touchdown” and is just like a rugby try, where the ball has to cross the line between the playing field and the end zone for a score to count.
After a “touchdown” is scored, the scoring team is allowed to choose to attempt to score one or two points to add to their total. The one point selection is called a PAT (Point After Touchdown), which has the same look and function of a rugby conversion but unlike in rugby, the defensive team can actually defend and contest against the attempt to block the ball from going to goalpost.
Also, they are allowed to go for a “Two-Point Conversion”, which the two teams line up against each other, as in a regular play, and the ball is set three yards from the endzone. The offensive team has to attempt to enter the end zone in only one try to score the two points. Most touchdown scoring teams choose to go for a PAT due to its vastly higher chances of scoring.
In gridiron, games are timed by 4 “quarters” like NBA basketball, and divided in two halves like rugby and football. Each quarter last 12 minutes in high school and 15 in college and NFL levels. Before the beginning of each game, a coin toss is done to determine who gets the ball first and which direction the ball will be kicked from.
Typically the ball is “kicked off” from the 30 or 35 yard line, depending on the league. Wherever the receiving team ends its possession whether by “calling” the catch (which places the ball wherever the receiving player catches it) or to wherever the receiving player is taking down during the play. If a ball go into the end zone or beyond without being touched, this result in a “touch back”, which means the ball will be put on the 20 yard line
Balls are kicked off at the beginning of each half and after each scoring “drive”. A drive is the series of “downs” the offensive side uses to attempt to score. A team is allows four downs to progress to the “first down” marker, if they cross this line they get a new set of downs. A down is a play, where the offense and defense line up against each other.
The offense attempts to progress forward by either passing the ball to “receivers” who run around the field in planned routes, also a team may run the ball, which is when a player behind the line is given the ball to attempt to run up the field. Most offenses are usually good at one of the types of offensive plays, but some offenses are acute at both, and those teams are said to have a “balanced attack”.
Check back this afternoon for Part 2 from Max!