A play from scrimmage is the activity of the games of gridiron football during which one team tries to advance the ball, get a first down, or to score, and the other team tries to stop them or take the ball away. Once a play is over, and before the next play starts, the football is considered dead. A game of American football (or Canadian Football) consists of many (about 120-150) such plays.
Gridiron football, also known as North American football or, in North America, simply football, is a football sport primarily played in the United States and Canada. American football, which uses 11-player teams, is the form played in the United States and the best known form of gridiron football worldwide, while Canadian football, featuring 12-player teams, predominates in Canada. Other derivative varieties include indoor football, football for smaller teams, and informal games such as touch and flag football. Football is played at professional, collegiate, semi-professional, and amateur levels.
A down is a period in which a play transpires in gridiron football. The down is a distinguishing characteristic of the game compared to other codes of football, but is synonymous with a "tackle" in rugby league. The team in possession of the football has a limited number of downs to advance ten yards or more towards their opponent's goal line. If they fail to advance that far, possession of the ball is turned over to the other team. In most situations, if a team reaches their final down they will punt to their opponent, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in range, they might also attempt to score a field goal.
In American football a play is a close to the ground "plan of action" or "strategy" used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in their playbook.
The term is also used to denote a specific plan of action, or its execution, under a particular set of circumstances faced by either team.For instance, the offensive team may be faced with one or two downs left in a possession and still ten or more yards to go to earn a new set of downs. In this instance, they may decide to employ a forward pass. Well in advance of the particular game, a number of different kinds of forward pass plays will have been planned out and practiced by the team. They will be designated by obscure words, letters and/or numbers so that the name of a play does not reveal its exact execution to outsiders. The team's coach, or perhaps the quarterback, will choose one of the planned forward passing strategies, and tell the team, during the huddle which one has been chosen. Because of planning and practice, each player is expected to know what his role in the play is to be, and how to execute it. This will be the offensive play.
In several forms of football a forward pass is a throwing of the ball in the direction that the offensive team is trying to move, towards the defensive team's goal line. The forward pass is one of the main distinguishers between gridiron football in which the play is legal and widespread, and rugby football from which the North American games evolved, in which the play is illegal.
The quarterback, colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes.
In sport, a huddle is an action of a team gathering together, usually in a tight circle, to strategize, motivate or celebrate. It is a popular strategy for keeping opponents insulated from sensitive information, and acts as a form of insulation when the level of noise in the venue is such that normal on-field communication is difficult. Commonly the leader of the huddle is the team captain and it is the captain who will try to inspire other team members to achieve success. Similarly after an event a huddle may take place to congratulate one another for the teams success, or to commiserate a defeat. The term "huddle" can be used as a verb as in "huddling up."
Conversely, the defensive team will know that the offense has to cover a good deal of ground in a single play, will expect a forward pass, and will know from earlier study something of the propensities of the offense they face. The defensive captain is likely to call out a specific formation or defensive play, to anticipate and counteract the expected action by the offense.
The play will begin with the snap of the ball (typically but not exclusively to the quarterback), and it will end when the effort by the offensive squad to advance the ball has either succeeded in scoring, or has been frustrated by the ball being downed before the aim of the offensive play is accomplished, or by the defensive squad having managed to come into possession of the ball without first downing it. In the event of change of possession during a play, the team newly in possession of the ball may try to advance it toward their opponent's goal, which the team formerly in possession will naturally resist. Change of possession during a routine play may occur by interception or by fumble (often collectively referred to as turnovers).
A snap is the backwards passing of the ball in gridiron football at the start of play from scrimmage.
In ball-playing competitive team sports, an interception or pick is a move by a player involving a pass of the ball—whether by foot or hand, depending on the rules of the sport—in which the ball is intended for a player of the same team but caught by a player of the team on defense, who thereby usually gains possession of the ball for their team. It is commonly seen in football, including American and Canadian football, as well as association football, rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules football and Gaelic football, as well as any sport by which a loose object is passed between players toward a goal. In basketball, a pick is called a steal.
A fumble in gridiron football occurs when a player who has possession and control of the ball loses it before being downed (tackled), scoring, or going out of bounds. By rule, it is any act other than passing, kicking, punting, or successful handing that results in loss of player possession. A fumble may be forced by a defensive player who either grabs or punches the ball or butts the ball with his helmet. A fumbled ball may be recovered and advanced by either team. It is one of three events that can cause a turnover, where possession of the ball can change during play.
Change of possession may also occur in other ways. A change of possession can occur "on downs", if the offensive team fails to achieve a first down or a touchdown in a specified number of consecutive attempts, known as "downs" (four in American football; three in Canadian football). Another way is through a change of possession play, when the offensive team (having perhaps surmised the unlikelihood of scoring or of achieving a first down within the allowed consecutive attempts to do so) kicks the ball away in what is known as a punt. A touchdown (and subsequent conversion attempt, whether successful or not) or successful field goal attempt will be followed by a kickoff. Kickoffs and field goal attempts are not considered true change of possession plays. An unsuccessful field goal attempt will usually also result in a change of possession (without a kickoff), but is usually not counted as a turnover.
A touchdown is a scoring play in gridiron football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.
In gridiron football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.
Canadian football is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area.
Touch football is a variant of American football in which the basic rules are similar to those of the mainstream game, but instead of tackling players to the ground, the person carrying the ball need only be touched by a member of the opposite team to end a down. The game is usually played by amateurs on a recreational basis.
In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead on or behind a team's own goal line and the opposing team gave the ball the momentum, or impetus, to travel over or across the goal line. Since the 2018 season, touchbacks have also been awarded in college football on kickoffs that end in a fair catch by the receiving team between its own 25-yard line and goal line. Such impetus may be imparted by a kick, pass, fumble, or in certain instances by batting the ball. A touchback is not a play, but a result of events that may occur during a play. A touchback is the opposite of a safety with regard to impetus since a safety is scored when the defending team is responsible for the ball becoming dead on or behind its own goal line.
Strategy forms a major part of the game of American football, and both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent to score more points in order to win the game.
Game play in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.
In sports, running out the clock is the practice of a winning team allowing the clock to expire through a series of pre-selected plays, either to preserve a lead or hasten the end of a one-sided contest. Generally, it is the opposite strategy of running up the score. Most leagues take steps to prevent teams from doing this, with the most common measure being a time limit for completing a play, such as a play clock or shot clock.
In American football, a quarterback kneel, also called taking a knee, genuflect offense, kneel-down offense, or victory formation occurs when the quarterback immediately kneels to the ground, ending the play on contact, after receiving the snap. It is primarily used to run the clock down, either at the end of the first half or the game itself, in order to preserve a lead or a win. Although it generally results in a loss of a yard and uses up a down, it minimizes the risk of a fumble, which would give the other team a chance at recovering the ball.
In American football each team has 11 players on the field at one time. The specific role that a player takes on the field is called their position. Under the modern rules of American football, teams are allowed unlimited substitutions; that is, teams may change any number of players after any play. This has resulted in the development of three "platoons" of players: the offense, the defense, and the special teams. Within those platoons, various specific positions exist depending on what each player's main job is.
Street football, also known as backyard football or sandlot football, is a simplified variant of American football primarily played informally by youth. It features far less equipment and fewer rules than its counterparts, but unlike the similar touch football, features full tackling.
A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.
A comparison between American football and rugby league is possible because of their shared origins and similar game concepts. Rugby league is arguably the most similar sport to American football after Canadian football: both sports involve the concept of a limited number of downs/tackles and scoring touchdowns/tries takes clear precedence over goal-kicking.
The 2008 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida in the sport of American football during the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Gators competed in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and played their home games in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the university's Gainesville, Florida, campus. They were led by fourth-year head coach Urban Meyer.
In gridiron football, a turnover occurs when the team with the ball loses possession of the ball without kicking it, which is then gained by the other team. In American football, the two events that are officially classified as "turnovers" are fumbles or interceptions.
The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.
In gridiron football, a turnover on downs occurs when a team's offense has used all their downs but has not progressed downfield enough to earn another set of downs. The resulting turnover gives possession of the ball to the team currently on defense.
The 2009 Green Bay Packers season was the 91st season over all and their 89th in the National Football League. The Packers finished with an 11–5 record but lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Arizona Cardinals. They scored a franchise record 461 points besting the 1996 Super Bowl team's 456. Charles Woodson was named Defensive Player of the Year for the season, leading the league with 9 interceptions. The defense ranked 2nd overall in the league.