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The only two NFL rules you need to know to enjoy the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl can be a baffling event for those who haven't watched American Football before but it really is quite simple.

Super Bowl rules
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Published: Friday, 11th February 2022 at 12:55 pm

How can people actually enjoy this? Do people actually enjoy this? Why do they wear armour? Isn't this just rugby? When is the halftime show? "Superb Owl lol, give me retweets"? Can I go to bed yet?


The Super Bowl has arrived in 2022 with the spotlight fixed on Sofi Stadium, outside of Los Angeles, as the LA Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the greatest show on turf.

It's the perfect time to get into the not-so-beautiful game with plenty of free TV coverage and helpful guides to ease you into the chaos that is the NFL.

We've got you covered with the absolute basics, and believe it or not, you can probably get a good handle on Bengals v Rams in the Super Bowl – enough to enjoy it – simply by knowing two fundamental rules of the sport.

What is a first down?

The entire sport boils down to teams attempting to advance up the pitch.

Each team is given four attempts (downs) to move the ball forward at least 10 yards via throwing and catching the ball or running with it.

At the start of possession, a team will have their first attempt to advance 10 yards. This is known as 1st & 10.

As an example, if a quarterback in a 1st & 10 situation throws the ball to a teammate standing five yards further up the field, play will stop and that team will advance five yards. The 1st (attempt) and 10 (yards to go) situation will become a 2nd & 5 situation – it is their second attempt and have five yards to reach their target.

If the ball is caught, or a player runs with the ball, beyond the original 10-yard target line, this will result in a first down because they have successfully advanced at least 10 yards in those attempts – a fresh 1st & 10 situation has arrived.

NFL Carolina Panthers

This process repeats until a team gets the ball into the endzone to record a touchdown or close enough to the goal posts to attempt a kicked field goal.

If a team does not reach the 10 yards in four attempts, the ball goes to the other team.

This can happen simply by not breaking down the opposition's defence, or the ball can be directly intercepted by the opposition and they can launch a counter attack.

Usually, a team will kick the ball away on their fourth down to avoid their opponents getting the ball in a good position for their possession.

How many points for a touchdown and field goal?

Taking the ball into the end zone will instantly reward that team with six points.

They can then choose to a) kick the ball through the posts for one extra point or b) have one chance at throwing or running the ball into the endzone again for two extra points.

Field goals are rewarded with three points.

And that really is all you need to know! Understanding tactics, formations, specific positions and bizarre rules (don't get us started) will only add to the enjoyment, but at its core, American Football is all about the four attempts at advancing the ball 10 yards forward.

Or you could just go to bed.

If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV Guide. Visit our dedicated hub for more Sports news.


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