NFL Football Rules and Terms You Should Know About

What makes American football so spectacular and fun is that it involves epic clashes and a complex play style in which 22 players give their all on the field.

With The National Football League (NFL) season starting from September 8 this year, people are extremely hyped. Out of many rules involved in the sport, the basic NFL football rule is moving the ball downfield, towards, and into the opposing team's end zone.

NFL Football Rules

The objective of the NFL is to score points over opponents in the allocated time. To do this, players move the ball down the pitch in phases before eventually getting the ball into the ‘end zone.

With the NFL preseason already in motion, you should take your time to know the NFL terms and rules. Once you know all these basic rules, you will find it easier to follow the game. Let's check out some of those basic rules.

Basic NFL Football Rules and Terms

To a newbie, the NFL can appear extremely complex. However, the basics of the game are easy to understand and follow. Here are NFL football rules, including the play and the scoring procedures.


  • The game starts with 11 players on each side, defense, and offense, intending to play for four quarters of 15 minutes.
  • The game consists of three ‘time-outs’ for each team, with a 12-minute half-time interval.
  • As mentioned, the game's objective is to move the ball into the opponent’s ‘end zone,’ either by running with the ball or by passing the ball to a teammate downfield towards the end zone.
  • The key player on each side is a quarterback. A quarterback is a player positioned in the offensive zone, behind the center, who calls signals and attempts to dictate play.
  • The possession of the ball (offense) must move the ball forward by 10 yards while they are on offense. Therefore, the pitch has marked yardage lines on it.
  • Players have four chances to gain those 10 yards, and if they advance the ball beyond that, the count resets, and the team earns another set of four downs so that they can try again to move further 10 yards.
  • If the offensive team fails to move to 10 yards within four downs, possession is given up, and the defensive side gets their turn to play offense.
  • The defensive team kicks for a field goal or downfield to the defending team on the fourth down to try and salvage some points before they lose possession.


The objective in the NFL is similar to pretty much every other sport − to score more points than the opponent. Some NFL football terms are important to understand scoring. These are as follows:

  • Touchdown

    When an offensive team gets the football across the goal line or catches or collects the ball in the end zone is known as a touchdown. As NFL football rules, the touchdown consists of six points.

  • Field Goal

    A team usually attempts field goals on the fourth down - if the kicker is close enough to the end zone to kick the ball between upright posts. The field goal has three points in the game.

  • Extra points

    In the NFL, the extra point is the act of attempting a one-point goal from the opponent's 2-yard line followed by a touchdown. If the kick goes through the goalposts, the team is awarded 1 point.

  • Safety

    The defensive team is awarded 2 points if they tackle an offensive team member with the ball in their end zone.

    The NFL is not only physically demanding but also requires skills similar to any sport; players must abide by NFL football rules and understand NFL football terms, which helps players understand the game better.

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Pro-Tuff Decals, based in Crystal Lake, Illinois, has been producing professional quality - customized sports helmets, sportswear, sports accessories, stickers, garments and equipment for customers of all age groups to stand out in leagues since 1987. We at Pro-Tuff takes every care to enliven the zest for sports which is fading gradually by creating logos, dog tags, car magnets, creative stickers with an option to customize as per your interest. We take pride in providing everything that a sports team needs and cheer them on fields that too in a quick turnaround time of just 48 hours.

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