The Womans Guide to Football Part 1 Downs


First and foremost, if you are not a fan of sports at all, my best advice is to just go shopping on Sunday afternoons.
However, if you’d like to have a basic understanding of what all the yelling and screaming at the TV is on Sundays, Mondays and the occasional Thursdays, this guide might be useful to you.
You don’t have to like the team your husband does, but you should know the team. Know who the coach is as well as the quarter back. Keep it with those two for starters, that way you don’t get too confused.
Obviously, the point of the game is to get the ball into the end zone to score points. Unfortunately, it’ all the stuff that happens before that which can and will confuse you.
Before I get into the basics of “Downs”, let me warn you. DO NOT ask questions during the game unless you absolutely have to and only because you really want to understand what just happened to make him yell like that. Otherwise, just Google it. I spent years asking ” How is it 10 men who each weigh at least 350lbs can pile up on that ball and it doesn’t burst?” Or ” Does the helmet block their view?” These are not questions you want to ask during a football game, EVER!
This took me years to get right. Partly because I’d watch for a few minutes leave the room, come back in, leave the room again. I’d leave the room and the screen would read “2nd & 8” come back in and it would say “3rd & 2” next time “1rst & 10”. My husbands explanation, “they moved the ball”. And????
So, here is the simplest version I can come up with:
The offense (team with the ball) wants a touch down. The perfect play would be- the center snaps the ball to the quarter back, the quarter back passes it to a wide receiver, he catches it and runs all the way to the end zone for a touch down. Perfect. Happens, but rarely.
Therefore, the offense has 4 chances to move the ball 10 yards towards their end zone. So, if it’s 2nd & 8 they moved the ball 2 yards and still need to move it 8 more yards to keep the ball. With 2nd & 8 they still have 2 more chances to attempt to move the ball 8 more yards. Once they have successfully moved the ball 10 yards or more towards their end zone, they start all over with 4 more chances/attempts to move the ball toward the end zone.
Now if they don’t move the ball forward, toward the end zone, in 4 attempts, the other team gets the ball. On most occasions, if after the 3rd down they aren’t close enough to the end zone for their kicker to score points by kicking a field goal ( kicking the ball thru the “U-shaped poles) then they will kick the ball to the other team. They do this because if they were just to hand the ball over where they stopped with it, the other team wouldn’t have that far to go to make a touch down of their own. So, the point of kicking it to them is to give them the ball as far away from their end zone as possible.
Now, there will be many times you will see something that looks completely crazy when it comes to downs. It will be something like 2nd & 18. This means they lost yards. This typically happens because the qb got sacked. ( he was attempting to throw the ball, couldn’t find someone open and was running all over the field just to end up having someone tackle him) *I’ll get into that another time* This means now they have to attempt to move the ball farther toward the end zone in order to keep the ball.
When you see or hear 2nd & Goal …..means just that. They are inside 10 yards of the goal line. Now they are attempting to get that ball across the goal line for a touchdown. Sometimes you might hear 2nd and inches….you got it….they are just right there. Typically, but not always the QB will dive over everyone in an attempt to get that ball over the line for a touch down.
That’s all I got on this for now. Hopefully this gives you a basic knowledge of “downs”.
Key terms in this section:

End Zone
The 10 yard area at each end of the field where hopefully your team will get a touchdown in their own end zone and a safety in the other teams end zone (we’ll get into a safety later)

Quarterback (QB)
He’s the guy who is on the field yelling and pointing and hiking his leg up like he has to pee. Also, he receives the ball from the center and he will hopefully either complete a pass (throw the ball) or hand it off to someone successfully

The dude all bent over in the middle who snaps the ball to the QB

Wide Receiver
A player who, hopefully can run very fast and receive (catch) the ball when thrown to him by the QB

Team with the ball

While I didn’t use this term this is a word you will hear. Announcers refer to the movement of the ball towards the end zone as a drive or offensive drive. Like who drives a ball right? And of course that would be offensive! Just remember Ball is supposed to be moving forward somehow!

The action of the ball being tossed between the legs ( HIKE) to either the QB, punter or the holder (guy who holds the ball for the kicker) on a kick attempt

Offense gets four downs to advance the ball 10 yards. A down starts when the ball is put into action by the center snapping the ball to the QB. A down ends when the ball is ruled dead. Oh dear ok, this can happen by many means, which we will get into later. But as an example: Someone catches the ball and was tackled, therefore the play is over, Ball is dead. Another play now begins.



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