Football Rules and Laws

Objective of the game is to score more points than the opponents. The grass covered field measures 160 ft x 360 ft, known as endlines and sidelines respectively. Play starts from the hash marks at the centerline. There are eleven players to a side and substitutions can be made during breaks as play progresses.

A coin toss determines which team starts the kick off. The process is repeated during the second half as well. The game is played for 60 minutes in four quarters and there is a 12 minute break at half time. If it is a tie, both teams play for an additional 15 minutes, with the first team to score winning the game in sudden death, with the rule differing for the post season NFL game. If a team scores a field goal during this time, the other team gets a chance to fight back and score. If a team is the first to score a touchdown, then the sudden death rule is applied.

Offensive side players line up at the line of scrimmage and the center player passes or snaps the ball backwards between his legs to a player behind him. A team in possession of the ball can attempt four times to move the ball 10 yards towards the opponent's end zone.

The ball is advanced by running with the ball, by throwing it to a teammate through a forward pass or a lateral pass. If the player with the ball is forced to the ground or cannot move forward, or if the ball touches the ground, the player goes out of bounds or when a team scores, the down ends and play starts all over again. A touchdown gets the team 6 points. A field goal gets team 3 points. A safety gets the opponents 2 points.

Rules govern change of possession. Possession of ball changes when:

  • a team fails to move the ball 10 yards ahead
  • when the offense scores a touchdown or a field goal
  • when the offense kicks or punts a ball to the defense
  • a defense player catches or intercepts a forward pass
  • an offensive player drops the ball and the defensive player picks it up
  • the offensive team misses a field goal attempt
  • when the offensive player carrying the ball fumbles and the ball goes out of bounds

There are fouls and penalties against the offending team. These occur when moving the ball towards the opponent's end zone. Penalties usually result in replaying the down.


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