American Football’s Seemingly Complicated Rules Explained


07 October 2021



American football is popular worldwide but can present a bit of a challenge as its rules appear pretty complicated. The sport is relatively easy to understand, however, and once you know the fundamentals. It’s much simpler to enjoy watching NFL and college football games.

The guide below offers a brief guide and an understanding of the basic rules of this popular game. It also breaks down how points are scored and the objectives within the game itself. 

As mentioned above, this sport has a wide audience around the world, and betting is a major factor, as with most top sports. To that end, resources such as NFL consensus helps bettors to decide on the best picks. It’s a valuable resource for experienced and novice bettors as well. The Super Bowl is the largest NFL live event of the year and it’s incredible to witness this event; tickets are usually in great demand, so get your SuperBowl tickets as soon as possible.

Fundamental Concept Of The American Football

Fundamental Concept Of The American Football

American football is played within four 15-minute quarters, with two teams of 11 on-field players competing for the higher score. Teams and rules are made up of 53 players, but only 46 of them could suit up for any one game. The quarterback is the main man on the team as he dictates play but everyone on the field has a crucial role to play. 

The main objective of the game is to get the football into the opponent’s end zone by either running with it or passing it downfield. Teams line up on opposite sides of an imaginary line called the line of scrimmage before each snap. 

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1. Each Team Has Three Time-Outs For Each Half 

Downs are probably the most confusing factor, but it’s fairly easy to understand, so let’s explain. So teams need to move the ball forward by at least 10 yards to retain possession while they are on offense. This is the reason for the pitch being marked as clearly as it is. 

Each team will have four chances to get past the 10-yard line, and the number of chances resets once the line is passed, leaving an offense with as many opportunities to move the ball forward as long as it does not concede possession and keeps moving past the line. 

If a team cannot get past the mark in four downs, they have to give up the ball. Teams typically go for a field goal or kick the ball downfield on the fourth down in case they lose possession. 

The rules are there when a touchdown is scored once the ball is moved into the opposition’s end zone, either through running or passing. Teams are allowed to gain extra points immediately after scoring touchdowns and can opt for another passing or rushing play close to the end zone, which is called a two-point conversion or a field goal, which is worth one point. 

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2. Field Goals That Occur During Regular Play Are Worth Three Points

It’s also possible for the defensive team to score points. The rules for defenses are to prevent the offense from scoring points. There are ways for them to score too. 

This could happen via either interception, fumble recovery, or safety. An interception occurs when a  player catches the ball off the pass of an opposing quarterback. If the player who intercepts evades tackles, he can run all the way to the opponent’s end zone to score a touchdown. If he is tacked, the offense will replace the defense on the field and attempt to move the ball downfield by means of downs. 

A fumble recovery could take place if the ball is stripped or dropped by an offensive player. Once the ball touches the ground, it could be picked up by a defender who can then attempt to run downfield for a score unless tackled. 

As for safety, it happens when a defensive player tackles an offensive player who is carrying the ball while in his own end zone. Two points are awarded to the defensive team, and the offense is then made to kick the ball down to them. 

3. Defensive Penalties 

Defensive Penalties 

Viewers will often see yellow flags thrown onto the field during plays. This is to signal that either the offense or defense rules have infringed on the other, and it usually costs them yards. The most common offensive penalty is holding, which happens when an offensive player holds a defensive player’s jersey or another piece of equipment, impeding his ability to make a tackle. Offenses also incur penalties when more than one player moves prior to the snap. 

Defensive penalties are called when the defensive team doesn’t line up properly or doesn’t afford an offense a fair chance at making a play. Pass interference is the most common of those and is called when any action by a single player, more than one yard back the line of tussle significantly for hinders. And eligible players are getting the chance to catch the football.

Regarding defensive penalties, most of the penalties that are called are in regards to unnecessary roughness, not lining up properly, or not allowing the offensive player a fair chance at catching the football. 

One of the most common defensive penalties is pass interference. This means the defensive player has prevented the offensive player from catching the football. It is illegal in the rules book. 

Defensive players also cannot hold a wide receiver or run back if he isn’t carrying the football. Grabbing facemasks is also heavily frowned upon.


When you want to enjoy the American football game, you have first to understand what are the rules of the game and the scoring factors. Then, after you read through the end, I think you can enjoy the game excitement and even play the game.

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I enjoy writing and I write quality guest posts on topics of my interest and passion. I have been doing this since my college days. My special interests are in health, fitness, food and following the latest trends in these areas. I am an editor at Content Rally.

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