We all probably know what an end zone is. That’s a no brainer. But we’ve talked about end zones fairly frequently over the past few weeks, so I thought it’d be a good time to corral all of that info into a 5-minute football lesson.
crooked homemade visual to serve as a frame of reference while we chat about all things end zone:
1. The end zones are the 10-yard scoring zones located at the ends of each playing field.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you already knew that, but we’ll cover all of our bases just in case. On that note: the objective of the game is to score in the other team’s end zone.
2. The end zones are 10-yards deep.
A football field consists of 100-yards of playing space with two 10-yard end zones at each end. That’s how kicks returned for touchdowns can be greater than 100-yards, even though the playing field is only 100-yards long. If the receiver catches the kick in the back of the end zone he’s likely 8 or 9 yards deep before he crosses the goal line and runs into the playing field. By the time he crosses the goal line at the other end of the field to score in the other team’s end zone, he’s run a total of 108-yards or so. Thus, a 108-yard return on a 100-yard field.
3. The yard line just prior to the end zone is called the goal line.
The goal line functions as the barrier between the playing field and the end zone. The nose of the football must cross the goal line to count as a touchdown. (If a receiver is standing in the end zone to catch a touchdown, he must have full control of the ball and two feet in-bounds to count as a touchdown.)
4. Four orange pylons (plastic cones that look kind of like tall, skinny, square construction cones) indicate the outer parameters of the end zone.
When the football crosses the goal line it must be inside of the pylons to count as a touchdown.
5. Each team does not claim one end zone for the whole game!!!
This might me one of the most commonly unknown facts in all of football: a team doesn’t get to keep their end zone for the whole game. There is not one side that is, say, the Browns end zone and then the other side is the Titans end zone for the whole game. As we learned last week, teams switch end zones at the end of every quarter to accommodate for fair playing conditions, and the team that defers the kickoff gets to choose which end zone they’ll defend first.
Easy way to remember which end zone is which team’s? Each team’s end zone is the one behind them. Here’s a good example that might serve as your lightbulb moment for the day (I know it was for me the first time I heard it!):
Let’s say the Browns and the Titans are playing. The Titans are on offense and the Browns are on defense. When both teams line up along the line of scrimmage, the Browns end zone will be the one behind the Browns, and the Titans end zone will be the one behind the Titans. The Titans are trying to score in the Browns end zone, and the Browns are trying to defend their own end zone against being scored in.
And now you know all the things you never knew you never knew about end zones. So it’s already been a successful Tuesday! Good work!