A 5-Minute Guide to Football Just in Time for the Super Bowl

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Clare Prince

Everyone watches the Super Bowl whether it’s for the commercials, the halftime show, or maybe you actually enjoy football. Being able to follow along with the game will make your party much more enjoyable, so if you’re going to a Super Bowl party on Sunday and don’t actually understand football, read this five-minute guide below, and you’ll be able to understand all the basics of the game.

THE FUNDAMENTALS

What? Super Bowl LIII

Who? Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots

When? Sunday, February 3, 2019 @ 3:30PM PST

Where? Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

How to watch? Tune in to the CBS Sports channel

THE PLAYERS

There are 11 players from each team on the field at a time. Each team will either have their offense, defense, or special teams on the field. The offense is on the field whenever it is their turn to attempt a touchdown, defense is on the field when they are trying to stop the other team from scoring, and special teams are on the field during kicking plays, such as the kickoffs, punts, and field goals. As previously mentioned there are 11 players within each unit, but here are the need-to-know players.

  • Offense: We all know the quarterback, he’s in charge of throwing or handing the ball off. (Hint: LA Rams QB = Jared Goff. Patriots QB = Tom Brady.) Then we have the wide receivers and the running backs. They pretty much explain themselves - if the play is to run the ball then the quarterback will hand the ball to the running back to run it up the field. If it is a passing play, the quarterback will throw to the wide receivers to catch and run up the field.

  • Defense: Some of the defensive leaders are the cornerbacks, safeties, and linebackers. They are in charge of seeing the plays and following the ball to try and stop the other team's wide receivers and running backs from scoring.

  • Special Teams: The two most recognized players within this unit are the kicker and punter. The kicker is the one who kicks it from a tee or from a player holding the ball for the kickoff and field goals. The punter is the one who drops the ball from his own hands to punt it to the other team, when his team fails to score.

All eleven players in each unit are vital in order to have a great team, but the players mentioned above are the ones that catch your eye while watching the game.

Source:  @kelseylindner

HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED

The game starts by one team kicking the ball to the other, known as the kickoff. A kickoff happens at the beginning of each half and after every touchdown. Each team has their special teams units on the field first, and the ball is kicked to the starting offense, which is decided at the beginning of the game with a coin toss. Once the ball is caught and the player is down, you get your line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is where the players line up to start the game. The team trying to score sends their offensive players in and the other teams sends in their defensive players. The offense has four attempts (downs) to move ten yards or more. Each time the team successfully moves ten yards, they are allotted another four attempts to move ten or more yards. The game continues like this until the offense scores or the defense successfully stops the offense from scoring within their four tries. At that point the teams would switch their units, and it would be the other team’s chance to score.

The game then continues switching back and forth until the time runs out. A football game consists of 4 quarters, each 15 minutes, with a 15 minute halftime in between. However, because the clock stops a lot, a game typically lasts about 2-3 hours. If at the the end of the fourth quarter the score is tied, then we move into overtime and whoever scores a touchdown first wins. However, if the team with first possession scores a field goal, the opposite team will be given a chance to match or better the score.

POINTS

  • Touchdown: There are a few different ways to score in football, the biggest being a touchdown. A touchdown is worth 6 points and is completed when a player carries the ball into or catches the ball in the end zone.

  • Extra-point conversions: After a completed touchdown, the team gets a chance for an extra-point conversion. There are two different conversions that can be played, either a 1-point conversion or a 2-point conversion. A one-point, most commonly played, is a field goal kicked from the fifteen-yard line. A two-point conversion is when the team lines up at the two-yard line and gets one attempt to run the ball or catch the ball in the end zone.

  • Field goals: Field goals most commonly happen when a team fails to get a touchdown and is on their fourth attempt to score. They do this when they feel their kicker is in comfortable kicking range and they don’t want to turn the ball over to the other team without scoring any points. A field goal is worth 3 points.

  • Safety: The last way to score is by getting a safety. This happens when a player tackles an opponent that has the ball into their own end zone and it is worth 2 points.

There are a few more components to the game such as penalties, the rest of the players, football terms, and more—but this guide will help you understand the basics. As for the upcoming game, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams both had great seasons, so this game should be fairly entertaining! Who do you think will win?

Want more information on football? Let us know in the comments.

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