American football terms and their meanings
Here's your guide to what the commentators are saying on television and radio:
Audible A play called at the line of scrimmage, nullifying the play that was called in the huddle.
Blitz A defensive play in which one or more linebackers rush the passer. It's a gamble, since the rushing linebackers leave holes in the defensive formation.
Bomb A very long forward pass.
Bullet An extremely forceful forward pass which travels in a straight line.
Bump and run A defensive maneuver in which a cornerback hits or bumps into a potential pass receiver as he leaves the line of scrimmage, hoping to upset his timing, and then runs with him. Only one such bump is allowed.
Clipping An illegal block in which an offensive player hits a defensive player from behind.
Completion A forward pass that's caught by an eligible receiver.
Conversion The scoring of an extra point after a touchdown, made by kicking the ball from a set position so that it clears the crossbar between the goal-posts. In college ball only, a team can score a 2-point conversion by running or passing the ball into the end zone.
Fair catch An option of the receiver of a short kick. By raising his hand before catching the ball, he indicates he will not run with it; defenders may not tackle him.
False start A violation committed by an offensive player who, after having assumed a set position on the line of scrimmage, moves before the ball has been picked up.
Interference Preventing an opposing player from catching a pass by holding or pushing him intentionally; an illegal manoeuvre.
Line of scrimmage An imaginary line upon which the forward point of the ball rests; it separates the offensive and defensive forces.
Offside A 5-yard penalty called when a player has any part of his body beyond the line of scrimmage as the ball is put into play.
Onside kick A deceptive kickoff in which the ball skitters along the ground just far enough so that the kicking team may recover it.
Pocket An area protected by blockers behind the line of scrimmage, within which the quarterback sets up to throw a pass.
Reverse A play in which an offensive player running in one direction hands the ball to another moving in the opposite direction.
Sack To tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.
Safety A 2-point score awarded to the defence for placing the ball in the offence's own end area.
Shotgun An offensive formation, used primarily for passing, in which the quarterback stands several yards behind the center to receive the ball passed back by the centre.
Snap The point where the ball is passed back from the line of scrimmage.
Two-minute warning An official timeout, called when 2 minutes of play remain in each half of a game, during which commercials and promotional spots are aired.