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.
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.
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.
In American football, both indoor and outdoor, a team has four opportunities (each opportunity is called a "down") to gain at least ten yards or to score. Any ground gained during each down short of these ten yards is kept for the next chance, and any ground lost must be regained in addition to the ten yards. Thus, if a team gains four yards on first down, it then has three chances to gain the six remaining yards, and if a team loses four yards on first down then it must gain a total of fourteen yards over the next three chances. If a team gains the required ten yards, it receives another four downs to gain another ten yards (an event called a "first down") or cross the goal line for a score. The same principles apply in Canadian football, except that a team has only three chances to gain ten yards instead of four.
Indoor American football is a variation of American football played at ice hockey-sized indoor arenas. While varying in details from league to league, the rules of indoor football are designed to allow for play in a smaller arena. It is a distinct discipline and not be confused with traditional American football played in large domed stadiums, as is done by some teams at the college and professional levels.
The yard is an English unit of length, in both the British imperial and US customary systems of measurement, that comprises 3 feet or 36 inches.
In the NFL, turnovers on downs are not counted as turnovers in statistics for either team; turnover statistics tally turnovers that occur during a play — namely, fumble recoveries and interceptions.
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.
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.
In most cases, teams will use one less chance (i.e. three in American football, two in Canadian football) than they are permitted to try to gain a first down. Usually, if a team has failed to gain the needed yardage when playing its final down, it will then punt the ball, offering the opposing team possession (the kicking team aims to place the ball downfield), or attempt to kick a field goal if close enough (typically within 40 yards of the goal posts). In the event of a successful punt, the opposing team will start its new set of downs at the spot the punt returner can advance the ball to before being tackled (or goes out of bounds), or where the punt goes out of bounds, or (in American football only) where the punt comes to rest when rolling to a stop or at the spot where the punt is fair-caught.
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.
A fair catch is a feature of American football and several other codes of football, in which a player attempting to catch a ball kicked by the opposing team – either on a kickoff or punt – is entitled to catch the ball without interference from any member of the kicking team. A ball caught in this manner becomes dead once caught, i.e., the player catching the ball is not entitled to run with the ball in an attempt to gain yardage, and the receiving team begins its drive at the spot where the ball was caught. A player wishing to make a fair catch signals his intent by extending one arm above his head and waving it while the kicked ball is in flight. The kicking team must allow the player an opportunity to make the catch without interference.
In some instances, a team may elect to use its last down to try to gain the yardage, rather than punt or kick a field goal . This is often referred to as "going for it" or "sticking" (as opposed to "kicking"). This disadvantage is that if this conversion attempt fails, the opposing team will immediately take possession of the ball at the spot where the play ended, rather than (usually) much farther away from a score in the case of a punt. Factors that may lead to a team making this choice are:
Field goal range is the part of the field in American football where there is a good chance that a field goal attempt will be successful.
A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or simply trickeration, is a play in American football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but to also maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.
A Hail Mary pass, also known as a shot play, is a very long forward pass in American football, typically made in desperation, with only a small chance of success. The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975, NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary."
1st & Ten is a computer system that augments televised coverage of football by inserting graphical elements on the field of play as if they were physically present: the inserted element stays fixed within the coordinates of the playing field, and obeys the visual rules of foreground objects occluding background objects. It is best known for its original application of generating and displaying the yellow first down line that a television viewer sees during a live broadcast of a football game to make it easier for them to follow play on the field, as pioneered by Sportvision. The line is not physically present on the field, and is seen only by the television audience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The National Football League playoffs for the 1996 season began on December 28, 1996. The postseason tournament concluded with the Green Bay Packers defeating the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, 35–21, on January 26, 1997, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The National Football League playoffs for the 1995 season began on December 30, 1995. The postseason tournament concluded with the Dallas Cowboys defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, 27–17, on January 28, 1996, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.
The National Football League playoffs for the 1991 season began on December 28, 1991. The postseason tournament concluded with the Washington Redskins defeating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI, 37–24, on January 26, 1992, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The National Football League playoffs for the 1988 season began on December 24, 1988. The postseason tournament concluded with the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, 20–16, on January 22, 1989, at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida.
The National Football League playoffs for the 1986 season began on December 28, 1986. The postseason tournament concluded with the New York Giants defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, 39–20, on January 25, 1987, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
The National Football League playoffs for the 1980 season began on December 28, 1980. The postseason tournament concluded with the Oakland Raiders defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV, 27–10, on January 25, 1981, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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 2004 New England Patriots season was the franchise's 35th season in the National Football League, the 45th overall and the 5th under head coach Bill Belichick. They finished with their second straight 14–2 record before advancing to and winning Super Bowl XXXIX, their third Super Bowl victory in four years, and their last one until 2014, when they went through a whole decade of postseason disappointments. They are, as of the present, the last team to repeat as NFL Champions and only the second to win 3 Super Bowls in a 4-year span.
The 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl was the 78th edition of the annual postseason college football bowl game known as the Sugar Bowl. It featured the Michigan Wolverines and the Virginia Tech Hokies on Tuesday, January 3, 2012, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The game was the final contest of the 2011 football season for both teams and was the third game of the 2011–2012 Bowl Championship Series (BCS). The game ended with 23–20 Michigan victory in overtime. Michigan represented the Big Ten Conference as the at-large team from the conference, while Virginia Tech represented the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) as its at-large team. The game was televised in the United States on ESPN and an estimated 9.6 million viewers watched the broadcast live. This was the first Sugar Bowl since 2000, as well as only the sixth since World War II and the tenth overall, not to feature a Southeastern Conference (SEC) team. This was because the top two SEC teams, the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, played each other in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, also held at the Superdome. As of 2019, this is the last SEC-less Sugar Bowl.
The 2014 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State University in the East Division of the Big Ten Conference during the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season. Michigan State played their home games at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan and were led by eighth-year head coach Mark Dantonio. The season marked a new division organization and the Spartans were members of the East Division.
The National Football League playoffs for the 2013 season began on January 4, 2014. The postseason tournament concluded with the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43–8, on February 2, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The 2015 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State University in the East Division of the Big Ten Conference during the 2015 NCAA Division I FBS football season. Michigan State played their home games at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan and were led by ninth-year head coach Mark Dantonio. They finished the season 12–2, 7–1 in Big Ten play to share the East Division championship with Ohio State. Due to their head-to-head win over Ohio State, they represented the East Division in the Big Ten Championship Game where they defeated West Division champion Iowa to become Big Ten Champions. They finished the season No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and were selected to play in the CFP Semifinals at the Cotton Bowl Classic where they lost to No. 2 Alabama.
The 2016 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State University during the 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Spartans played in the East Division of the Big Ten Conference and played their home games at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. They were led by head coach Mark Dantonio, who was in his tenth season. They finished the season 3–9, 1–8 in Big Ten play to finish in sixth place in the East Division.