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Glossary of American football

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  • audible - a play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage to change the play that was called in the huddle.
  • automatic - an audible
  • blitz - a defensive maneuver in which one or more defensive backs, which normally remain behind the line of scrimmage, instead charge into the opponents' backfield in an attempt to sack the quarterback.
  • dead ball - a ball which is not in play after one play has ended and before the next play begins.
  • center - a player postition on offense
  • coffin corner - the corner of the field of play. A punter, if he is close enough, will often attempt to kick the ball out of bounds close to the receiving team's goal line and pin them back near their own end zone.
  • cornerback - a player position on defense
  • crackback block - an illegal block delivered from the back by an offensive player who had left the area of close line play and then returned to it.
  • defensive end - a player position on defense
  • defensive tackle - a player position on defense
  • defensive team the team that begins a play from scrimmage not in possession of the ball.
  • down - one of a series of four plays in which the offensive team must advance at least 10 yards or lose possession.
  • draw play - a play in which the quarterback drops back as if to pass, then hands off to a running back.
  • drop kick - a kick in which the ball is allowed to hit the ground before it is kicked. It was effectively used as a method of kicking field goals in the early history of football, but unheard of today, although it is still legal.
  • eligible receivers - offensive players who may legally catch a forward pass.
  • end - a player position, either on offense or defense
  • end zone - the area between the end line and the goal line bounded by the sidelines.
  • extra point - a single point scored in a conversion attempt by kicking the ball through the uprights.
  • field of play - the area of the field between the goal lines and bounded by the sidelines.
  • formation - the arrangement of players on the offensive team just prior to the beginning of a play.
  • forward pass - a pass with a trajectory that takes it closer to the opponent's goal.
  • free kick - either a kickoff, or a punt following a safety.
  • free safety - a player position on defense
  • fullback -- a player postition on offense
  • fumble - a ball that is dropped or mishandled.
  • goal - the end zone.
  • goal posts - a set of two upright posts extending above a crossbar. The distance between uprights is 18-1/2 feet, and the top of the crossbar is 10 feet above the ground.
  • gridiron - a football field
  • guard - a player postition on offense
  • halfback - - a player postition on offense
  • hash marks - lines on the field between which plays from scrimmage begin.
  • holder - a player who holds the ball upright for a place kick.
  • huddle - an on-field gathering of members of a team in order to receive instructions for the upcoming play.
  • inbound lines - the hash marks.
  • kickoff - a place kick which starts each half or restarts the game following a touchdown.
  • kick returner - a player on the receiving team who specializes in returning kickoffs
  • lateral - a pass thrown to the side or backward.
  • line of scrimmage - the yard line at which a down begins.
  • line to gain - a technical term for first-down yardage
  • linebacker - a player position on defense
  • lineman[?]
  • live ball - any ball that is in play, whether it is a player's possession or not. The ball is live during plays from scrimmage and free kicks, including kickoffs.
  • long snapper - a center who specializes in the long, accurate, snaps required for punts and field goal attempts.
  • loose ball - any ball that is in play and not in a player's possession. This includes a ball in flight during a lateral or forward pass.
  • neutral zone[?]
  • offensive team
  • offside - an infraction of the rule that requires both teams to be on their own side of the line of scrimmage before a play starts.
  • onside kick - a play on a kickoff in which the kicking team tries to field it's own kick.
  • place kicker - a kicker who specializes in kickoffs or field goals (as opposed to punts)
  • play
  • pulling - a term used to describe an offensive lineman who, instead of blocking the player in front of him, steps back ("pulls") and moves down the line to block another player, usually in a "trap" or "sweep".
  • punt - a kick in which the ball is dropped and kicked before it reaches the ground.
  • punter - a kicker who specializes in punts as opposed to kickoffs or field goals.
  • red dog - a blitz.
  • reverse - an offensive. play in which a ballcarrier going toward one side of the field hands off to a teammate who is running in the opposite direction. (if the second ballcarrier is an end, it's an "end around")
  • running back
  • rush - trying to tackle or hurry a quarterback before he can throw a pass.
  • sack - tackling the quarterback before he can get off a pass.
  • safety - a player position on defense
  • safety - a method of scoring (worth two points) by downing an opposing ballcarier in his own end zone.
  • safety valve - a receiver who gets a short pass because all other receivers are covered.
  • screen play - a short forward pass to a runningback who has blockers in front of him.
  • scrimmage - see: play from scrimmage
  • snap - the handoff or pass from the center that begins a play from scrimmage.
  • special teams - the units that handle kickoffs, punts, free kicks and field goal attempts.
  • stiff-arm or straight arm - a ball-carrier warding off a would-be tackler by pushing them away with a straight arm.
  • strong safety - a player position on defense
  • strong side - the side of the field with the most offensive players on the line of scrimmage.
  • stunt - a tactic used by defensive linemen in which they switch sides in an attempt to get past the blockers.
  • T-formation - a classic offensive formation with the quarterback directly behind the center and two or three running backs behind the quarterback, forming a "T".
  • tackle - the act of forcing a ball carrier the ground
  • tackle - a player position on the line, either an offensive tackle or a defensive tackle
  • tight end - a player postition on offense
  • touchback - the act of downing the ball behind one's own goal line after the ball had been propelled over the goal by the opposing team. After a touchback, the team that downed it get the ball at their own 20-yard line.
  • touchdown - a play worth six points, accomplished by gaining legal possession of the ball in the opponents' end zone.
  • trap - a basic blocking pattern in which a defensive lineman easily gets past the line of scrimmage, only to be blocked by a 'pulling' lineman.
  • two-point conversion
  • weak side - the side of the field with the fewest offensive players on the line of scrimmage.
  • wide receiver -- a player postition on offense
  • wing back - - a player postition in some offensive formations

See also : American football



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