If you’ve spent all of your time menu planning and party coordinating and have an impending sense of doom about the actual game part of game day, DON’T PANIC. It’s not too late! Here’s your last minute study session for Super Bowl Sunday:
If you have some free time this morning, read through these three posts and take the quiz at the end:
If you’re too busy basting meatballs for subs and grating cheese for nachos, not to worry. I’ve got you covered! Here are the essential 10 Thing to Know When Watching a Football Game:
1. There are three components to every team: offense, defense, and special teams. The offense is the unit trying to move the ball down the field to score a touchdown in the defense’s end zone. The defense is the unit trying to stop the offense from scoring. Special teams is the unit on the field during kicking and punting plays.
2. A team has four chances, called downs, to move the ball 10 yards. You’ve probably heard the terms “1st and 10” and “3 and out” – they’re referring to the down system. If a team has a “1st and 10” it means they are on their first down (first chance) and still have to move the ball 10 yards from the line of scrimmage (the imaginary starting line) to get a new set of downs. If a team is at “2nd and 7” it means that it’s their second down and they have to move the ball 7 yards to get a new set of downs. The first number refers to the down (chance), the second is the number of yards to go until they reach 10 total yards and a new set of downs. You’ll know how much farther a team has to go to get to the first down marker thanks to the magic of television: it’s the electronic yellow line superimposed on the field.
3. If the offense doesn’t reach 10 total yards in 4 downs, they turn the ball over to the other team, right where they are. This isn’t good, especially if turning the ball over to the other team would put them in good field position to score. This is why a team will usually choose to use their first 3 downs to move the ball 10 yards and their final down to punt the ball away or kick a field goal, if they’re close enough.
4. The goal of the offense is to score in the following ways: Touchdown = 6 points. Extra Point (or PAT, Point After Touchdown) = 1 point. Field Goal = 3 points. 2-point conversion (when a team lines up at the 2 yard line and tries to get the ball in the endzone after a touchdown instead of kicking the extra point) = 2 points.
5. The goal of the defense is also to score: Safety (when the ball carrier is tackled in the offense’s end zone) = 2 points. Pick 6 (when a defensive player intercepts the ball and runs it into the end zone for a touchdown) = 6 points (and they will also kick the extra point afterward, making for a total of 7 points). Aside from scoring, the defense wants to force a “3 and out” – making the offense have to punt on 4th down, therefore going 3 downs without moving 10 yards and having to go “out” by punting.
6. The game is played in quarters, and each quarter is 15 minutes long. Those quarters are separated by halves – the first half and the second half – and those halves are separated by halftime, which is usually a 12-minute break but during the Super Bowl is elongated to just short of forever (or 30 minutes).
7. Each team gets three timeouts per half. There’s also a break at the 2-minute warning (when there are 2 minutes remaining) of each half. The game clock is the clock that keeps the total time remaining in each quarter; the play clock is the clock that keeps the total time remaining for each play. The offense has 40 seconds from the end of a play to start the next play – that’s what the play clock accounts for. If they don’t get the ball snapped in time, they’ll receive a 5-yard delay of game penalty.
8. The fifty yards of field from the offense’s end zone = their “own” side of the field. The fifty yards of field from the defense’s end zone = the defense’s “territory.” But the physical halves of the field for each team do not stay constant – teams rotate ends of the field after each quarter to make for fair playing conditions (especially in outdoor stadiums to account for sun, wind, etc).
9. Play continues after the 1st and 3rd quarters; play stops after the 2nd and 4th quarters. After the 1st and 3rd quarters the teams rotate ends of the field and play continues right where it left off. If the team on offense was at their own 40 yard line at 2nd and 7, they’ll still be on their own 40 yard line at 2nd and 7 once the next quarter begins, just on the opposite end of the field. But the same is not true after the 2nd and 4th quarters. After the 2nd quarter, play stops for halftime. When play resumes again it will be the beginning of the 3rd quarter and the team that did not kick off to start the game will kick off to start the new half, starting a new possession. And unless there’s a tie when the 4th quarter ends, the game is over.
10. Teams play in many, MANY different formations (alignment and combination of players). But in general, you can use these diagrams as a guide to know who is on the field for offense and defense:
Players on Offense:
QB – quarterback
Players on Defense:
Defensive Front: Defensive line + LB’s – linebacker
Ok! You’re so ready!!! Now go finish those subs and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!