Can You Get 29/35 on This American Football Knowledge Quiz?


By: Gavin Thagard

7 Min Quiz

Image: cmannphoto / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi 

Lombardi's words still ring true today, and there's no aspect of football where perfection can be reached. If you work hard enough, though, you can get close. Here's your chance to chase perfection off the gridiron by acing this football knowledge quiz. Do you have what it takes, or will you crumble beneath the pressure?

Football has changed a lot since its formation. After all, there was a point where forward passes weren't even allowed. But each new generation has seen both rule changes as well as revolutions within the framework already in place. These changes have been necessary, of course. What is a sport if it's not constantly evolving, keeping the action going and fans interested? 

Now, you can see if you've been able to keep up with all the changes throughout the years. From developments in offensive styles to tweaks in how field goals are handled, how do you think you'll fair against all these difficult questions we throw at you? 

When you're geared up and ready to go, get started and see if you'll have to throw in the flag before the competition gets too fierce. 

There's a lot of room on a football field. Do you know where players score?

Jerry Rice, the Hall of Fame wide receiver, has entered the end zone more than any player in the history of the NFL. In 20 NFL seasons, Rice racked up a total of 208 touchdowns, primarily through receptions.


What is it called when a defender tackles the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage during a pass play?

Proving he was one of the most unblockable players in the game, Michael Strahan's 2001 NFL campaign was one for the ages. During the regular season, he set an NFL record by recording 22.5 sacks in 16 games.


How many players take the field on defense?

As they try to utilize all 11 defensive players appropriately, defensive have relied more on different packages, which are critical when it comes to counteracting offensive production. That's why the rule was implemented that states an offense must allow a defense to make a substitution if the offense has made a substitution.


An offense is awarded how many plays to get a first down?

Since joining the New England Patriots, Tom Brady has been one of the most cerebral players when it comes to orchestrating an offense. He doesn't always go for the big play, instead using every down to chip away at the defense as he picks up first down after first down.


Are you familiar with the penalty called if an offensive player moves before the ball is snapped?

CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, is recognized as one of the loudest stadiums in the game, causing an average of over two false starts per game for opposing teams. To honor their crowd, the team retired jersey number 12.


One of the highest valued positions in the NFL, who takes snaps and throws passes?

Since the 2010 NFL Draft, seven quarterbacks have been selected with the first overall pick. These quarterbacks have had a mixed range of success, as some have led their teams to the playoffs while others have had little regular-season success.


When the game is tied at the end of regulation, what happens next?

In college football, both teams have an opportunity to score in overtime from the opposing team's 25-yard line. Once the third overtime begins, teams are required to go for a two-point conversion if they score a touchdown.


Touchdowns can be tough to come by against a stout defense, but how many points are they worth when they are scored?

When it comes to putting six points on the scoreboard, no team did it as well as the 1984 Miami Dolphins. That team had a record-setting offense that relied heavily on the arm of their star quarterback, Dan Marino. The offense scored 70 touchdowns that season, with Marino throwing for 48 of them.


Why does a team try an onside kick during a kickoff?

Down 10-6 during Super Bowl XLIV, the New Orleans Saints tried a risky play coming out for the second half where they went for an onside kick to start the third quarter. They recovered the ball and took the lead, eventually winning the game 31-17.


A single quarter in an NFL game runs how long?

The final 15 minutes of a game are usually the most crucial. For example, in a 2007 game between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears, the Lions put up 34 points in the fourth quarter to win the game 37-27. The outburst of points was the most ever scored in an NFL fourth quarter.


A linebacker is sent after the quarterback on which type of play?

Throughout his NFL career with the New York Giants, Lawrence Taylor was one of the most feared linebackers in the game. His specialty was the blitz, where he dominated opposing offenses that never knew where he was coming from.


Can you identify the position responsible for snapping the ball to the quarterback?

While the quarterback might be the leader of the offense, the center is often the leader of the offensive line. They are responsible for calling out defensive fronts and occasionally making audible calls.


How many points is a field goal worth?

Matt Prater holds the NFL record for the longest field goal ever made at 64 yards. He set the record in 2013 while playing for the Denver Broncos in a matchup against the Tennessee Titans.


Do you know the length of a football field not including the end zones?

A 100 yards is a long way, which is why only two running backs in NFL history have completed a 99-yard rushing touchdown. Tony Dorsett was the first player to accomplish the feat in 1983, and Derrick Henry tied the mark during the 2018 season.


Who gets the ball first to start a game is determined by what?

The team that wins a coin flip can elect to either receive the football or kick it off to start the game. Teams that want to get off to a hot start on offense will often take the football on the opening kickoff.


Do you know why an offense loses 10 yards if the quarterback throws the ball out of bounds during a pass play?

Intentional grounding is not only a 10-yard penalty, but it also results in a loss of down for the offense. If the quarterback is outside of the tackle box, however, then there is no penalty called.


Can you name the position typically responsible for covering outside receivers?

The cornerback position can be a tough one to draft, but the New York Jets got it right when they selected Darrelle Revis in 2007. During his prime, Revis was a lockdown defender. Most quarterbacks refused to even throw the ball to his side of the field, which became known as "Revis Island."


What do you call a running play to the far outside?

Evident by his 10 Pro Bowls and two NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards, Barry Sanders could do it all from the running back position. The Hall of Fame running back was particularly great on sweep plays, where he used both his speed and agility to outwork defenders.


An offense will do what on fourth down to change field position?

Some punts require a little luck during the bounce. That's exactly what happened in 1969 when Steve O'Neal boomed a 98-yard punt at Mile High Stadium while playing against the Denver Broncos.


The ball must be moved how many yards to achieve a first down without a penalty?

An effective running game can be extremely beneficial in keeping the chains moving for an offense. The Dallas Cowboys built a championship team in the '90s based on this strategy, where Emmitt Smith picked up chunks of yards to keep the offense on the field as he picked up first downs.


If a quarterback is tackled in his own end zone, a defense has achieved what?

Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos opened up with a safety on the very first play of the game. The quick score came only 12 seconds into the matchup, which was the fastest points in Super Bowl history.


A coach has to be careful because they are only given how many timeouts per half?

A team doesn't want to waste their timeouts, so they might use one to make sure they have the right play call in an important situation. However, they also don't want to get to the end of a half and not have any timeouts when the play clock is working against them.


A defender who catches a pass intended for a receiver has accomplished what?

Evident by the 12 interceptions during his rookie season, Paul Krause was destined to have a stellar NFL career. That proved to be true as Krause finished his career with the NFL record for interceptions at 81.


Which penalty is called when an offensive lineman grabs the jersey of a defender?

During the 2018 season, NFL teams across the league averaged 22.97 offensive holding penalties. The Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins committed the most infractions with 32 apiece.


A running back has committed which action if they drop the ball on the ground?

Early in his career, Adrian Peterson had a problem fumbling the football, with a career high nine fumbles in the 2008 season. He managed to correct the problem and went on to have one of the most productive careers of any running back to play the game.


What do you call a run play where the quarterback reads the defensive end to decide if they will hand the ball off or not?

It takes an extremely gifted quarterback like Russell Wilson to effectively run the zone read. In his best season, Wilson rushed for 849 yards on 7.2 yards per carry and added six touchdowns to that, partly by running the zone read.


What's the name of the formation where the quarterback lines up a few yards behind the center?

The shotgun formation was once only used in critical passing situations to give the quarterback a better view of the defense. As the passing game became more of a premium, teams began to utilize the formation as often as they played under center.


A punt returner must do what if they want to call for a fair catch?

Some return specialist refuse to wave for a fair catch. For example, Adam Jones went eight seasons in the NFL without waving his hand to call for a fair catch. His streak, which lasted from 2006 until 2014, spanned 73 games over 2,929 days.


How many yards does an offense get on a neutral zone infraction?

A neutral zone infractions is always a detriment to a defense. During the 2018 season, the Houston Texans recorded 11 neutral zone infractions. This total was well above the league average of 4.56 neutral zone infractions, and the team committed most of those penalties on the road.


Can you name the route where a defender runs eight yards and turns back to the quarterback?

Curl routes require excellent timing between the quarterback and the wide receiver if they want to ensure the pass is completed. Even a single yard difference in the route can result in an incompletion.


Which type of pass is thrown behind the line of scrimmage to a receiver with blockers in front?

Lou Holtz, who was the head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish from 1986 until 1996, popularized the bubble screen pass in college football. Since then, college football coaches have found crafty ways to use a variety of screen passes that involve every offensive player at their disposal.


A team has entered the red zone when they reach which yard line?

The Pittsburgh Steelers had the best red zone offense in 2018 when it came to scoring touchdowns. The teams reached the end zone 73 percent of the time and were extremely effective at home where they scored 80 percent of the time.


Are you familiar with the defensive position that plays in the middle of the defensive line?

The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history when"Mean" Joe Greene played for them. He led a dominant defensive line, known as the "Steel Curtain," to four Super Bowl victories throughout the '70s.


Typically, away teams wear which type of jersey during a game?

Although home teams are allowed to select which jersey colors will be worn by both teams, away teams traditionally wear white while the home team wears their team colors. This difference gives referees and fans the ability to discern what is taking place on the field.


An offense must place how many players on the line of scrimmage to not receive a penalty?

The best offenses run a variety of formations, which all require that seven players be on the line of scrimmage. One type of formation places more of those players to one side of the ball in what is known as an unbalanced look.


Do you know the number of linebackers required to run a 3-4 scheme?

Only the best linebackers can perform well in a variety of schemes, including the 3-4. Ray Lewis was one such linebacker, who was twice named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003. The unique aspect of those awards is that he won them under two different defensive schemes: the 4-3 and the 3-4.


Where on the field is the ball placed after a touchback?

Touchbacks aren't for every returner. Some of the best return men have been known to reject a touchback, electing to carry the ball out of the end zone. In Super Bowl XLVII, Jacoby Jones set a Super Bowl record by completing a 108 yard kickoff return when he decided to bring the ball out.


How much time does the offense have to snap the ball before the play clock runs out in the NFL?

The best quarterbacks use the 40 second play clock to their advantage. For example, Peyton Manning was one of the best pre-snap quarterbacks in the league, often calling several audibles based on what the defense would give him.


Where on the field is an extra point kicked from in the NFL?

Prior to the 2015 season, the NFL moved the extra point from the two-yard line to the 15-yard line to make the play more difficult for kickers. The decision has paid off, and many NFL teams are electing to go for the two-point conversion rather than kick the extra point.


How should you properly refer to the person responsible for calling football games?

An NFL game requires seven officials to be on the field to accurately monitor the action taking place. The leader of these officials is known as the head referee, and they stand behind the offense.


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