January 28, 2018

Football 101

Everything you need to know about the big game coming up...

Hi guys! We’re excited to bring you a special Sunday article. In anticipation of the Super Bowl next weekend, we’ve partnered with Jayme Lamm of The Blonde Side for an article all about football! That’s right – we are here to get you ready for the big day. Whether you’re like me (Carrie) and already love the game or you’re like Julie and aren’t quite sure what’s happening on the field, you’ll find some useful info. Consider this your football cheat sheet! Now, keep reading and prepare to blow people away during the big game with all your football knowledge!

Football 101

by Jayme Lamm | The Blonde Side

Football season is almost over, but it’s never too late to brush up on your sports-related skills and lingo, especially in time for Super Bowl LII where the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the seemingly unstoppable New England Patriots.

Fun fact: these two teams also played in Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla. where New England won 24-21.

Even if you don’t like football, odds are you’ll be watching the big game next Sunday. According to Nielsen, 111.3 million people tuned in for last year’s Super Bowl in our hometown of Houston. So if you are going be one of those tuning in, it wouldn’t hurt to know a little about the game itself. Plus, it will certainly ensure you’ll enjoy it much more.

So, here’s your football crash course in time for Super Bowl LII!

Football Crash Course


The objective of the game (like all of them) is to score more points than your opponent.Ideally, you want to score a touchdown every time you get the ball.

In the NFL, there are 5 ways to score points.

1. A touchdown

A touchdown is worth 6 points,

2. An extra point

A touchdown is usually followed by an extra point (1 point). This combo is why most people only casually familiar with the sport think a touchdown is 7 points, but really it is 6 points with a shot to earn another point.

3. A two-point conversion

If you are a coach with aggressive play calls or down by a lot of points, your team will likely opt for a two-point conversion following the touchdown (in lieu of the extra point). This is where you get one play to run from your opponent’s two yard line in hopes of making it into the end zone and adding two points to your score.

4. A field goal

Field goals are worth 3 points with the goal of the kicker kicking the ball over the crossbar and between the uprights. If it hits the uprights and still goes through the goal posts, it still counts. A lot of time, the wind can help aid in a long field goal or it can derail it.

5. A safety

Lastly is a safety (2 points). This is the rarest way to score in football. A safety is scored by the defense when they tackle an offensive player behind his own goal line.


The Flow of a Game


An NFL football game lasts sixty minutes. That sixty minutes is broken into 15-minute increments, known as quarters (similar to innings in baseball or periods in hockey). Each team gets 3 timeouts in the beginning of each half and must be used in that half (i.e. you can’t save up your timeouts and end up with 5 in the 2nd half; you’ll always start with 3). If you hear a fan say the coach is bad at timing or “managing the clock”, this usually means they didn’t use their timeouts appropriately.

There is also the two-minute warning where the clock automatically stops at the end of each half, virtually serving as a freebie timeout that teams take advantage of.

Half time is the 12-minute intermission/break between the second and third quarters in which the two teams go back to the locker room to regroup. This is a great excuse for a bathroom break, to chat with friends, walk around the stadium, take a few selfies or get a refill if needed! Or in the case of the Super Bowl, some people love to watch the halftime show!


What is a down, you ask? When a team first gets the ball, it’s “1st and 10.”  That means it’s first down and the team has ten yards to go. A team gets a total of four downs with the goal of advancing ten yards each time. If you hear “2nd and 5” that means on first down, the team either ran or threw the ball for five yards. If by 4th down the team hasn’t gone ten yards, they lose possession of the ball and have to punt (kick to the other team from the spot of the ball). And then it will be 1st and 10 for the other team and that cycle continues. When a team gets a first down, you’ll often hear chants and cheers in the crowd as fans yell “1st down” and motion their hand down the field in unison.

Offense vs. Defense

The goal of the offense is to score in their opponent’s end zone by getting first downs (mentioned above) and the goal of the defense is to stop the offense from scoring. The goal for the defense is to stop the offense as soon as possible (keeping them from not only scoring a touchdown but getting into field goal range). Even better is if there’s a turnover, which means the offense fumbles the ball or the defense intercepts the ball.

On the offensive side, the Center will snap the ball to the Quarterback, who is the leader of the team, calling coded plays to his teammates. Wide receivers and Running Backs will usually get the ball from the quarterback, and the Offensive Line is there to protect the quarterback from getting sacked (meaning he gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage, which is where the ball started at the play), and giving him time to make a good throw or handing it off for a run down the field.

Many football fans say, “defense wins games,” which is pretty much true. If your defense continues to stop the offense from scoring, it’s hard to win the game without points. But both offense and defense have very important roles in scoring, protecting the ball and their teammates.

In Closing

There is so much more to football – including play calls, penalties and flags, time of possession, depth charts and more. But that’s a brief introduction to help you get through next Sunday’s big game. If you have more questions about how the game, leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer!

Before I go, here is one more piece of trivia to toss out at your Super Bowl party next week…

Fun fact: The winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which has been designed and produced for the Super Bowl by Tiffany every year since 1967.


  1. This is great, as it has baffled me. Hockey is big in Canada and seems easier to follow than football.

    1. Haha! Well, you can return the favor and explain hockey to me. 😉

      Hope you had a great weekend.

  2. Steelers fan says:

    It’superbowl LII = 52 🙂

    1. Apologies for that typo! Maybe we still had LI on the brain from our hometown of Houston hosting last year. 😉

      Thanks for the correction. Fixed. 🙂

  3. Sharon says:

    Still don’t understand Safety’s… isn’t defense always trying to tackle offense?

    1. Hey Sharon! I’ll let our sports expert Jayme chime in with clarification. But I’m pretty sure the key phrase in that one is “behind his own goal line”

      “A safety is scored by the defense when they tackle an offensive player behind his own goal line.”

      So, it’s when the defense tackles the offense in the end zone. Hope that helps! 🙂

    2. Jayme says:

      Hi Sharon! If you (as offense) get sacked in your own end zone, that’s a safety (2pts). If you get into your opponent’s end zone, that’s a TD (6pts). Did I make a typo? And yes – defense is always trying to tackle offense. The only time offense will try to tackle/stop defense is if there’s a turnover and offense has to quickly become defense. Does that make sense?

      Sometimes I get so excited with my favorite sport I may have written it wrong! — Jayme

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