Basic Football Quiz


By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: David Madison/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The bright lights, the stadiums filled with roaring fans, the smell of fresh-cut grass; football is a marvelous sport that attracts thousands of players wishing to participate each fall. As these players gear up and get ready to take the field, there is one critical thing they should know, and that's the basics of how the game works. For anyone who doesn't know the basics of football, they probably need to rethink lacing up their cleats so quickly and, instead, take the time to learn how football works. 

If you've ever been around the sport of football, you know there are many concepts and rules to learn before you can be effective on the field. The sport can be dangerous, so it's important to stay focused and take in as much knowledge as you can so you don't hurt yourself or your opponent. 

For the casual fan, as well, knowing the basics of football can be useful as it encourages a respect for the game that you might not otherwise have. Understanding what football players put themselves through can make the game more entertaining and help put various situations in perspective. 

Are you ready to test your knowledge on the basics of football? Here's your chance. If you think you can score big on this basic football quiz, get started and prove it!

What do football players wear on their heads?

In recent years, concussions have become a major issue impacting the NFL after reports surfaced that brain damage severely affected former players. The NFL has implemented various measures to prevent players with concussions from returning to the field until they are cleared to play.


Which position is responsible for throwing the ball?

Tom Brady is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, quarterback to ever take the field. Brady is a five-time Super Bowl champion and has won three NFL MVP awards.


Playing on the offensive line, who snaps the ball to start a play?

The center position is often seen as the brain of the offense. They are responsible for snapping the football, making reads, blocking and occasionally making checks for the offensive line.


How many players take the field on defense?

When you're talking about great defenses, it's hard to not mention the 1985 Chicago Bears. The Bears' defense led the team to a 15-1 record in the regular season and endlessly frustrated opponents.


What do receivers run on the football field?

Odell Beckham Jr., who plays for the New York Giants, is viewed as one of the best route runners in the league. His route running is part of the reason that he earned a contract in 2018 that made him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.


What is it called when the quarterback gets tackled before throwing the football?

Former player Michael Strahan currently holds the record for the most sacks in a single season. He set the record of 22.5 sacks in 2001 while playing for the New York Giants.


Which position is primarily responsible for covering receivers?

In the early 2010s, the Seattle Seahawks put together a defensive secondary who dominated the league with their physicality. The secondary was so skilled that they received the nickname "The Legion of Boom."


How many forward passes are allowed during a play?

In a game against the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, Drew Brees broke Brett Favre's NFL career completion record which was set at 6,300. Considering Drew Brees doesn't appear to be slowing down, that record could get much higher.


What's the line where the ball is snapped called?

The biggest game in the NFL is known as the Super Bowl. Each season, 32 teams compete against one another for a chance to play for a championship ring.


How many points is a touchdown worth?

No running back in NFL history crossed the goal line more than Emmitt Smith. Smith finished his career in 2004 with 164 rushing touchdowns.


What can the offense do besides throw the football?

Only seven running backs have rushed for over 2,000 yards in an NFL season. The last running back to accomplish this feat was Adrian Peterson in 2012.


What's a kick through the uprights called?

The Buffalo Bills lost the 1990-91 Super Bowl to the New York Giants on a missed field goal at the end of the game. The missed attempt became known as the "Wide Right" kick.


How many offensive players must be on the line of scrimmage?

Led by players like Randy Moss and Tom Brady, the Patriots had one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history in 2007. The offense led the team to an undefeated regular season, though they lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants.


What's the formation called when the quarterback takes the snap a few yards behind the center?

Peyton Manning was one of the best quarterbacks at operating out of the shotgun formation. From the shotgun, he read the defense and made checks to counter what he saw.


What's a pass caught by the defense?

Playing from 1991 until 2010, Brett Favre was a three-time NLF MVP and a Super Bowl champion. However, he also threw more interceptions during his career than any other quarterback.


How many downs does an offense have to get a first down?

The Green Bay Packers are the only team in the NFL that's not privately owned. Instead, the organization is considered a publicly owned corporation with shares bought and sold.


What's it called if a linebacker rushes the quarterback?

Lawrence Taylor revolutionized the linebacker position in the 1980s because of his ability to blitz the quarterback. In his best season, he racked up 20.5 sacks.


Where on the football field are touchdowns scored?

Throughout the years, college football has revolutionized the sport because of the offensive juggernauts that have arisen on the college level. The offensive strategy from college coaches like Chip Kelly and Lincoln Riley has eventually made its way to the NFL.


How long is the football field, not including the end zones?

The first 99-yard touchdown pass was thrown in 1939 by Frank Filchock. The pass was caught by Andy Farkas, who did most of the work by carrying the ball 90 yards after catching it at his own 10-yard line.


What can an offense do to change field position on fourth down?

The longest punt in NFL history went 98 yards from the 1-yard line to the opposite 1-yard line. The punt was made by Steve O'Neal in 1969 while playing for the New York Jets.


What happens if the quarterback is tackled into his own end zone?

On the first snap of the 2013-14 Super Bowl, the ball went over quarterback Peyton Manning's head and into the end zone. It resulted in a safety, which was the fastest score in NFL history at 12 seconds.


What's the line called that divides the end zone from the field?

In 2006, LaDainian Tomlinson crossed the goal line 28 times on the ground. His 28 rushing touchdowns is an NFL record that he broke while playing for the San Diego Chargers.


How many points is a field goal worth?

In 2018, Adam Vinatieri broke the NFL record for field goals in a career which was previously held by Morten Andersen. His field goal record makes him the all-time leading scorer​ in the NFL as well.


How do you start a game of football?

The first kickoff in a Super Bowl was on Jan. 15, 1967. The game pitted the Packers against the Chiefs, and it resulted in​ Vince Lombardi's first Super Bowl victory.


What is used to determine who gets the football first to start a game?

The team who wins the coin toss gets to decide if they want the ball in the first half or the second half. A coin flip is also used to decide who gets the ball first in overtime.


During a kickoff, what happens if the football is kicked out of the end zone?

The touchback rule once advanced the ball to the 20-yard line. However, in an effort to reduce concussions from players returning kickoffs that would otherwise be touchbacks, the NFL moved the ball to the 25-yard line instead.


How many linebackers are used in a 3-4 defense?

The 3-4 defense was created to add confusion for opposing offenses. With four linebackers, the defense can create multiple blitz packages to attack an offense with.


What is it called when a pass is thrown behind the line of scrimmage with blockers in front?

President Theodore Roosevelt contributed to the creation of the forward pass. He recognized the dangers of the game and threatened to ban it until new rules were implemented, leading to the forward pass rule.


How long is an NFL overtime?

Super Bowl LI was the first championship game to go into overtime. The game featured the Patriots and the Falcons, with the Patriots walking away with the victory.


How can the quarterback stop the clock?

Known as the "Clock Play," former Dolphins' quarterback Dan Marino once faked a spike near the end of a game against the Jets in 1994. The fake worked, as Marino threw a touchdown pass to Mark Ingram Sr. to win the game.


What's the length of an NFL quarter?

After every quarter, both teams swap the side of the field they are playing on. The switch helps keep the game fair due to weather conditions and crowd noise.


What penalty is called when the quarterback throws the ball out of bounds while in the pocket?

Defenses often complain that quarterbacks have it too easy, especially with roughing the passer calls that go against the defense. Luckily, the intentional grounding rule makes it harder for quarterbacks to get rid of the ball.


How long does an offense have to snap the football between plays?

Many no-huddle offenses try to use as little of the play clock as possible. Often, they will snap the ball within 15 to 20 seconds of the play clock starting to catch the defense off guard.


What penalty is called when an offensive lineman grabs a defensive player?

No team was penalized more in 2017 than the Seattle Seahawks. The team racked up 148 penalties for 1,342 yards.


How many yards is a team penalized for a false start?

Throughout the history of the franchise, the Miami Dolphins led the league with the fewest penalties 13 different times. That includes a stint from 1976 until 1984.


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