Football is war. It is, essentially, a strategic game of Risk, where the 100 yards on the field are the battleground.
The offense (the team with the ball) makes their way up the field to score a touchdown. The defense must stop them…simple?….not quite.
The offense has four chances or downs to get the ball 10 yards. Once they get those 10 yards, they are given another set of downs. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the 10.
So when you hear 2nd and 6 it means that the offense has 6 yards to go and they are on their second down. It gets a little more complex when you get to the 4th down. Yes, technically, this is your last chance to get your 10 yards and why not take it?
Because if you take it and miss, the opposing team then gets to start, from exactly the spot that you left off, only they are headed in the other direction…..much closer to the end zone. You could also use your 4th down to kick a field goal (see Scoring).
This is where strategy comes in, is it worth the risk to try for the 1st down? Or is it better to punt (which is like a mini-kickoff)?
When the offense makes it into the end zone (the other side of the field), It’s a touchdown which is worth 6 points. They then have the opportunity to score an extra point by a kick.
Field goal- 3 points. A field goal is made when the team has run out of downs and aren’t close enough to the end zone to go for a touchdown, but close enough that the kicker can kick through the goalposts
Safety - 2 points – This is when the quarterback is sacked in their own end zone.
Hold Up! What’s a sack?
A sack is when the quarterback (think Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers) is tackled before he is able to throw the ball. Sacks are a big deal. Quarterbacks have had their careers ended by properly timed sacks, remember the beginning of The Blind Side?
A turnover can happen one of two ways: a fumble, which is just what it sounds like, someone on the offense bumbling a pass or toss and it falling to the ground to be picked up by the opposing teams defense.
Or the ball can be intercepted, which is also, just what it sounds like, the ball is intercepted when the quarterback throws it to someone.
There are many intricacies to turnovers. Whether someone has been downed (tackled) or not. If it is a fumble vs. a dead ball. We’ll get to that in “advanced” football.