Bring it down to touchdown
American football, sometimes (particularly in the United States) referred to simply as football, is a highly strategic game. Each play of the team in possession of the ball (offense) is planned precisely and adapted for the respective players. The offense tries to push the opposing team (defense) back to gain as much space on the field as possible and can advance its position by throwing or carrying the ball. The defense aims to secure its area of the field, push the opposing team back whenever possible and gain possession of the ball.
Both teams try to score points by entering their opponent’s end zone while in possession of the oval shaped ball by passing or running with it (touchdown). American football consists of a number of plays (referred to as downs) or drives (a series of offensive plays). If the team currently playing on offense sees no chance of scoring a touchdown, they can decide to try for a three-point field goal instead of playing their last down. A field goal is made by kicking the football between the goal posts of the opposing team, which are raised 15 feet (4.7 meters) above the field and are located in their respective end zones. If a field goal is not possible because the offensive team is too far away from their opponent’s end zone, the ball is usually kicked as far back as possible (punt) so that when the opposing team assumes possession of it, they have to start off in a less favorable field position. Each player takes over a certain position for which he is best qualified. Therefore, there are players that only play in offense, defense or special positions. In American football there is an entire crew of officials, each of whom assumes a certain role for observing and regulating the game.
American football has its origins in its English predecessors of soccer and rugby, as well as in Canadian football and has been played in the US since 1869. Due to incidents of serious injuries and deaths, new rules and obligatory protective equipment have been implemented. American football is organized globally through the International Federation of American Football (IFAF). American football has been identified as the most popular sport in the US since the 1970s. The most well-known professional league is the National Football League (NFL), whose annual finale, the Super Bowl, is the most important television event in the United States.
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An American football field is rectangular, 120 yards (110 meters) in length and 53 yards (48 meters) in width. It is divided into 12 parts, with the left and rightmost sections making up the end zones. The field is crossed by lines every five yards (yard lines), which are labeled every ten yards with the corresponding distance from the nearest end zone. The 50-yard-line is located in the middle of the field.
- Passing: Passing the ball to gain as much of the field as possible with a catch. The defense tries to tackle the player with the ball or force them off the field (out of bounds) to end the play. The next play starts where the last one finished. If a pass is incomplete, the next down starts from the same position as the previous one.
- Running play: The quarterback can simply hand or throw the football to a running back, who tries to gain as much space as possible. His teammates seek to clear a path for him and prevent him from being tackled. If the football touches the ground or leaves the field, the down is over.
- Fakes: Attempts to mislead the defense with fake plays.
- Turnover: The alternation of offense due to interception, fumble (when the ball is dropped), field goal or not achieving the first down.
- Clock-Management: A football game is divided into four quarters, each with 15 minutes. During a game, the clock is stopped during timeouts, certain penalties, incomplete passes, after scoring, and two minutes before the end of each half (two minute warning). The teams can use efficient clock management to their advantage.
- Overtime: When there is a tie at the end of the second half, the game is prolonged for another 15 minutes. Overtime ends as soon as a team scores. If neither of the teams score, the game ends in a tie.
- Blitzes: The quarterback is pressured by one or more opposing players breaking through or circumventing the offense line.
- Stunning D-Line: Defense players trick offense players by switching their roles.
- Shifting D-Line: Shortly before the snap, defense players change their formation to confuse the offense and force the quarterback to change his move.
The infraction of rules is punished by penalties, which usually result in loss of yardage. Notable penalties are illegal formation, holding, illegal shift, illegal motion, false start, offside, unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike conduct, or chop block.
- Jerome Abram Bettis ("The Bus")
- Michael Jerome Irvin ("The Playmaker")
- Joseph William Namath ("Broadway Joe")
- Walter Payton ("Sweetness")
- William Perry ("The Fridge")
- Robert John Riggins ("Diesel")
- Joe Smith ("Locomotive")
- Reggie White ("Minister of Defense")