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American football is coming to the UK again this autumn. For the last couple of years the NFL has sent teams to play in London, bringing the US’s most popular sport to British audiences.
There will be four games taking place in the capital, two at Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, and two at Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby.
If you’ve never seen a game of American football, you might be wondering how it differs from regular football. Or if you have seen a game, you’re probably still pretty confused as to what the rules are.
We’ve created a handy guide for Brits watching the NFL this season, so you can (hopefully) understand what’s happening including the fundamentals of the game, some of the language you’ll be listening for and Brits you can support plying their trade across the pond.
When you think of NFL your mind wont stray far from thinking about our star spangled American partners, however there’s a number of British connections to keep a look out for across the league.
Gridiron – The playing field or pitch.
Down – Each time the ball is in play and the offence are trying to move it down the field.
Drive – The whole series of downs the offence has the football until it scores or loses the ball.
Field goal – A kick from anywhere on the field, earning three points if it goes over crossbar and between the goalposts (like in rugby).
Touchdown - When a player with the ball crosses the opponent’s goal line, or catches the ball in the opponent’s end zone, earning six points.
The basic aim of the game is the same as rugby – get the ball into the opposing scoring area to collect the points. Each team has 11 players, and the team in possession of the ball is known as the offence.
The offence tries to get the ball down the field by throwing or running with it, while the other team tries to stop them or take possession of the ball in the process. They do this by tackling the player running with the ball, much like in rugby.
The game is divided into four 15-minute quarters, and the teams change ends after each quarter. There’s also a 12-minute half time, famous in the Superbowl final for performances by the world’s biggest pop stars.
Keep our guide to hand when watching this season’s matches in London, and you’ll be able to enjoy (and hopefully understand) all the exciting action.
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