The Very Basics: (For those who wouldn’t know a football from a foosball.)
Object of the game: To score points by getting the football into the opposing team’s end zone. You can do so by running the ball into the end zone or by throwing it to a player who then runs it into the end zone. If this happens, the team scores a touchdown, which is worth 6 points.
End Zone: The end of the field with the pretty colors and usually the team name. (Do you know nothing people!)
Offense: The guy throwing the ball and everyone wearing a jersey that looks like his jersey is on offense. They’re the ones trying to score touchdowns and get points.
Defense: The guys in the other jerseys. Their purpose is to stop the offense so that their offense can get on the field and try to score points
Quarterback: The guy we all wanted to date in high school.
Special Teams: (No, this doesn’t mean they belong on the “short bus.”) The kicker, the guys catching the ball after it’s been kicked, and the guys trying to stop guys from catching the ball after it’s been kicked are on special teams.
Field Goal: A kicker for the team on offense tries to kick the football between two goal posts. This earns the team 3 points. (Teams usually try to score points this way if they think they won’t be able to score a touchdown.)
The Basics: (For those who want to avoid asking “what does that mean” while the rest of us are trying to watch the damn game!)
Backfield: The area behind the line of scrimmage.
Chick Tip: Here’s how to use it in a sentence to sound like you know what you’re talking about: “The problem with the screen is that 7 times out of 10 the ‘d’ will pick it up and hit us in the backfield.” (Prepare for jaws to drop if you can get that out with a straight face!)
Blitz: This happens when the guys on defense basically go after the quarterback like he’s the last slice of pizza at a Weight Watchers convention. The object of the blitz is to sack the quarterback right after the ball is snapped. If he is sacked behind the line of scrimmage (in the backfield), the offense gets pushed back and the defense gets giddy!
Drive: The series of plays a team attempts on offense makes up the team's “drive.”
First Down: This is a biggie and one of the most crucial elements of the game. A first down is achieved by moving the ball 10 yards down the field. The offense has four chances to do so.
The Chicks Break it Down: Say Team A (the offense) starts on the 10 yard line and on the first play is only able to move the ball 3 yards down the field. Now the team is on its “second down” with 7 yards to go. Now let’s say Team A picks up 5 yards on its “second down.” Now it’s “third down” with two yards to go. If the team can move the ball the final two yards on “third down,” the process starts all over again. If not, the team can choose to punt (kick the ball to the other team) or go for the final two yards on “fourth down.” (This is the point of the game where you hear people who’d swear they’re all football experts shouting “go for it” or “they’ve got to kick it!” If they don’t pick up the final two yards on “fourth down,” Team A must relinquish the ball to Team B. Team B will then be on offense at the same position on the field and Team A will be on defense.
Field Position: This refers to what yard line the teams are snapping the ball from. If the team on offense is near the opponents’ end zone, the team is said to have good field position. If the team on offense is near its own end zone, they better get ready to work for that touchdown.
Fumble: A fumble occurs when a player carrying the ball drops it or gets the ball knocked out of his hands. Whichever team gets the ball back first is the team that gets to be on offense. (Don’t shout “interception” when you see this happen ladies; they’ll only laugh at you.)
In/Out of Bounds: You know that white area on the sides of the field? If a player steps into that area he is considered out of bounds and can no longer move the ball forward.
Interception: When the quarterback makes an “oopsie” and throws the ball to someone on defense instead of one of his own players. (Also referred to as “picked off.”)
Line of Scrimmage: Just before the quarterback throws or hands the ball off to a player, all the guys on offense and defense are crouched down facing each other and likely exchanging a few not so nice words. The line separating these players (which is an imaginary line) is called the line of scrimmage. Passing this line before the ball is snapped is like moving too fast on a first date. BIG no-no!
Punt: When a team is out of attempts to get a first down (or decides not to go for it on fourth down) they can elect to punt the ball (kick it) to the other team. The other team then tries to catch it and run it as close to the opponent’s end zone as possible.
Pylon: Those little orange markers at the 4 corners of each end zone. If a player catches a ball at the opponent’s end zone and hits the pylon with the ball, the play will be considered a touchdown. (So long as his knee wasn’t down before he hit the pylon…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…)
Red Zone: When the offense gets within 20 yards of the opponent’s end zone, they are said to be in the “red zone.” This is the area where the offense is most likely to score points.
Run the Ball: When the ball is not passed but carried down the field by one of the backs. What are “backs” you ask? The running back, fullback and halfback are the backs. These are the dudes who essentially carry the ball or help with blocking the defenders so someone else can catch/carry the ball.
Safety: The first sign that this happened is you’ll see a bunch of players on defense putting their hands above their heads like they’re about to do an Egyptian dance. It means that the person on offense holding the ball got tackled in his own end zone. The defense automatically gets 2 points.
Snap: You’ve seen this move in the movies before. One guy bends over in front of another guy who’s standing up. (No, we’re not talking Brokeback Mountain, think sports movies. Now let’s focus ladies!) Anyways, the guy holding the football bends over while the quarterback behind him starts shouting random numbers which usually ends with “hike hike.” Then “bent over guy” throws the ball backward between his legs to the quarterback. The actual act of tossing the ball is called “snapping” the ball. So when a referee calls a penalty that happened “prior to the snap,” that means the penalty happened before the ball got tossed up to the quarterback. By the way, “bent over guy’s” technical name is the Center.
Third and long: When the offense has to move the ball (typically more than 5 yards) to pick up a first down.
Advanced: (So, I see this isn’t your first time.)
Lateral: A pass thrown to a teammate backwards from the team’s line of scrimmage. Players can throw as many laterals as they want in a play. BUT you can only pass the ball forward once in a single play.
A Chick Digresses: One of the greatest lateral plays of all times occurred during a Saints v Jaguars game. It hurts me to relive the tale because I broke a really good shoe during my temper tantrum as a result of what happened after the lateral. Here goes…
It was a sunny and brisk winter day, December 21, 2003. The Saints were trailing 20-13 with six seconds left in the game when then quarterback Aaron Brooks passed the ball to Donte’ Stallworth who then flipped the ball to Michael Lewis. Lewis pitched it back to Deuce McAllister, who lateraled to Jerome Pathon. Pathon went the final 21 yards into the end zone. All they needed to do was score the extra point to tie the game. Sound simple enough right? I think you know where this is going….Needless to say, the extra point attempt went wide right. Final Score: Jags 20 Saints 19. (LACES OUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!)
I swore revenge on Kicker John Carney from that day forward but over the years, I’ve found a way to make peace with what happened. Moral of the story: We didn’t need Katrina to know that Saints fans more than deserve to see their team finally get a Super Bowl ring.
Nickel Defense: When the defense lines up with 5 defensive backs, thus increasing the odds the defense will be able to prevent a receiver from catching a pass.
Pass Pattern: This is when the receivers are basically telling the passers “Throw it to me! Throw it to me!” It’s a path that they follow to help the quarterback quickly find them and get them the ball.
Pass Rush: Sort of like the blitz. A rush of defenders try to get pass the offensive line in the hopes that they’ll be on the quarterback like white on rice.
Play Action Pass: When the quarterback gets tricky and pretends to hand off the ball to a running back. Wouldn’t you know it, that little sneak actually keeps the ball and tries to pass it to a receiver.
Pocket: The area behind the offensive line where the quarterback is protected by his blockers.
Penalties: (Someone’s been a naughty boy!)
Clipping: This move hits below the belt in more ways than one. Anytime “clipping” is called, that means an opponent got hit below the waist from behind. The illegal move is punishable by a 15 yard penalty. (Clip this!)
Holding: Football players don’t just get touchy feely at their victory parties. Holding is when a player tries to stop another player by grasping or hooking any part of his uniform. You can use your arms and body to block an opponent, but keep your filthy paws off their jerseys you frisky boys!
Chick Tip: Anytime a player makes an unusually long run down the field and then the referee throws a flag, shout out “Was it holding?” Even if it wasn’t holding, people will think you know what you’re talking about since that’s usually what the penalty is on a long run.
Intentional Grounding: Remember that whole “blitz” thing we talked about? Well, sometimes when a quarterback sees a pack of 350lb+ men coming his way trying to knock him to the ground, he realizes he can either:
a) Run from them and hope his Wheaties will kick in
b) Find a player on his team to throw the ball to…stat
c) Throw the ball aimlessly to the ground like a wussy
If he goes with “c” he’ll probably get called for intentional grounding. He cannot be called if the pass lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage
Offside: If any part of the player’s body is beyond the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped, the player is said to be offside.
Personal Foul: The “oh no you didn’t” of penalties. It’s called when a player does something that could have lead to an injury and is punishable by 15 yards.