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A beginner’s guide to American football

One of the world’s greatest sporting events is set to take place this Sunday, Super Bowl LIV sees the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers face off at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

This is the first time these two sides have ever met in the Super Bowl and is the Chiefs first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years.

The Super Bowl was watched by nearly 1000 million people last year. So, what basics do you need to know about American Football before this Sundays Super Bowl.

Offence & Defence

Each team is split into two units, an attack and a defence.

The team which has control of the ball will have their offence on the field. Whereas the other tea will have their defence out on the field.

The defence aim to stop the others team offence scoring touchdowns by tackling the ball carrier, intercepting passes or causing fumbles.

At points in the game such as when a team choose to kick the ball a ‘special team’ will be out on the pitch.

1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Down

‘Downs’ a re a crucial part of the game and this terminology will be constantly repeated throughout the game.

The concept is the attacking team has four attempts to move the ball 10 yards or score a touchdown.

Therefore, if the ball is taken further than 10 yards before the ball carrier is either tackled or leaves the field then the ‘down’s count is restarted, and the team have four attempts to again move the ball 10 yards ahead.

If a team fails to make the 10 yards in their four attempts, they must either punt the ball on their fourth ‘down’ or hand over possession to the other team. Similarly, if an attacking team pass intercepted or the ball is fumbled and collected by the defence the attacking team lose possession of the ball.

The Quarterback

A quarterback is the leader of the team’s offence.

He will receive the ball at the beginning of each play and either pass the ball or decide to run the ball.

Scoring Explained

Touchdown – Six Points

A touchdown is scored when a team enters the oppositions end zone either carrying the ball or by catching the ball in the end zone.

Field Goal – Three Points

These are usually attempted on fourth down if the kicker is close enough to the end zone to kick the ball through the posts.

Extra Point – One or Two Points

A point is earned by kicking the ball through the uprights after a touchdown. Two points are earned by taking the ball into the end zone again.

Safety – Two Points

Awarded to the defensive team when a member of the offensive team is tackled with the ball in his own end zone.

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