How Good Is Your NFL Vocabulary?

By: Gavin Thagard
Image: Tom Merton/OJO Images/Getty Images

About This Quiz

It's Sunday morning, and you are watching your favorite sports news show when the commentators start throwing around words that seem a little foreign to you. You are an expert on the NFL, you think to yourself. You should know these words. But, how good is your NFL vocabulary really? Why not take this quiz and find out?

Penalties, play calls, positions on the field; the NFL is filled with a variety of words that define the game for everyone involved. Without the appropriate background in football, these words can get a little confusing, especially if you are new to the game. Even for those who have been around football for a while, NFL vocabulary can seem a little odd. Once you get the words down, though, everything happening on the field makes sense. It all comes together like a perfectly built house where the words are the frame and the house is the overall game. 

Do you already have a full understanding of everything in the NFL? Can you define all of these vocabulary words and even more if you had to? Here's your chance to find out. If you are up for the challenge, get started and show everyone how strong your NFL vocabulary is!

Which position snaps the ball to the quarterback?

Typically, the center is the vocal leader of the offensive line. They will call out defensive fronts and even audibles occasionally.

Who is responsible for moving the posts that mark a first down?

Measuring a first down correctly can be vital to a game, and referees try to be as accurate as possible. In one game between the Cowboys and the Raiders in 2017, a referee even brought out a piece of paper to ensure the first down was correct.

Where do players score?

Emmitt Smith played running back for the Dallas Cowboys for most of his career, winning three Super Bowls. He also crossed the goal line more than any other running back in NFL history.

What are field goals kicked through?

The longest made field goal in NFL history went 64 yards. It was kicked by Matt Prater in 2013 while playing for the Denver Broncos.

What are the marks that measure the field in one-yard intervals called?

Traditionally, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots has been a methodical quarterback, moving the football a few yards at a time. However, he's also capable of the big play if defenses give it to him.

What is the area around a quarterback where blockers protect him?

The best quarterbacks can move around in the pocket without scrambling to the outside and still complete a pass. Peyton Manning was a master of this, which helped him have success considering he wasn't the fastest player on the field.

Where do coaches and players not on the field stand?

The sidelines are filled with team and NFL personnel. This includes medical staff who are responsible for watching out for injured players, which has become a major concern over the years because of concussions.

What kind of shoes do players wear?

The NFL's cleats policy was once more strict than it is today. However, in 2016, the rules were changed to allow a more open policy where players could wear custom-designed cleats.

What is a score called?

Peyton Manning played for both the Colts and the Broncos, winning a Super Bowl with both teams. During his time between the two franchises, Manning threw 539 touchdowns, more than any other quarterback.

What is the point after a touchdown called?

In 2015, the NFL moved the extra point to the 15-yard​ line. The move has significantly increased the number of missed extra points across the league.

What is it called when the quarterback gets sacked into his own end zone?

Super Bowl XLVIII pitted the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks. On the first play from scrimmage, the ball was snapped over Peyton Manning's head and went into the end zone, giving the Seahawks an immediate two-point advantage.

What is a pass caught by the defense called?

Near the end of Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks were about to take the lead when a pass play was called inside the five-yard line. The ball was intercepted by the Patriots on what is considered one of the worst calls in Super Bowl history.

What is it called when the running back drops the ball on the ground?

Adrian Peterson will go down as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history when he decides to retire. However, early in his career, Peterson had a fumbling problem that many critics attacked him for. Luckily, he worked hard to fix the problem.

What do you call the furthest outside receiver?

Julio Jones, wide receiver for the Falcons, has proven to be one of the best outside threats at wide receiver. He is capable of not only getting down the field but also of using his large body to jump over defenders.

What line divides the end zone from the field?

Super Bowl XXXIV between the Rams and the Titans was one for the ages. The game came down to the last play where Kevin Dyson, a receiver for the Titans, was tackled one yard short of the goal line, giving the victory to the Rams.

How is the game started?

Dante Hall was one of the greatest return men to ever grace the league. He scored six kickoff return touchdowns and earned the nickname "The Human Joystick."

What is a kick on fourth down to change field position called?

The longest punt in NFL history was kicked by Steve O'Neal of the New York Jets. The punt went 98 yards, though it did require some rolling to get there.

What is the area between the 20-yard line and the opposing team's end zone?

To start the 2018 season, the Baltimore Ravens scored 12 straight times inside the red zone. It's the first time a team has done that in the history of the league.

What is it called when a kickoff goes out of the end zone?

Concussions have become a huge problem in the NFL. To help avoid them, the NFL moved the touchback mark to the 25-yard line to encourage return men to take a knee instead of returning the ball.

What is a pass with blockers in front of the receiver?

Le'Veon Bell is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL. However, since the Steelers refused to sign Bell to a long-term deal, the running back has decided to sit out part of the 2018 season in protest.

What is a run play to the outside called?

Darren Sproles, who plays for the Eagles, is one of the fastest running backs in the league. He has a unique ability to get to the outside and turn it up, leaving defenders in the dust.

What do you call a route where the receiver turns around abruptly and waits for the pass?

Jerry Rice is widely regarded as the best wide receiver to ever play the game. During his career, Rice set the NFL record for receptions, hauling in 1,549 balls.

What is a formation where the quarterback is lined up a few yards behind the center?

The shotgun formation was once saved for late downs when passing was required. The game has since changed, and the formation is used more widely around the league in a multitude of scenarios and on all downs.

What do you call defensive coverage where cornerbacks have a specific receiver they are covering?

Darrelle Revis was an excellent man-to-man corner in the NFL. He even had an entire side of the field named "Revis Island" because no one could catch a ball against him.

What is a deep passing route where the receiver runs straight down the field before cutting to the goalposts?

Randy Moss was a deep threat receiver whose speed took the league by storm. He had the ability to lure defenders to sleep before exploding down the field for a touchdown catch.

What is a formation where the running back lines up at quarterback?

Though they weren't the first to use it, the Miami Dolphins popularized the wildcat formation in the NFL. The team employed the formation with running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams with great success early on.

What is a defender assigned to watch a scrambling quarterback called?

Running quarterbacks have always been around, but not to the extent that they are today. The zone read is one of the most popular plays to usher in the era of the running quarterback.

What is a running play disguised as a passing play?

The draw play is often used on third and long when there isn't much of a chance of throwing for the first down. This minimizes a team's chance of turning the ball over on an interception.

What do you call it when the offense gathers together to hear the play call from the quarterback?

The no-huddle offense became popular in the late '80s and early '90s when the Buffalo Bills started using it throughout the entirety of a game. The offense helped lead the team to four straight Super Bowls.

What is a foul after the whistle is blown?

In 1976, the Seahawks and the Buccaneers played each other in one of the most penalized games in NFL history. The game consisted of 39 flags for 310 yards.

What is it called when an offensive lineman grabs a defender and doesn't let go?

For right-handed quarterbacks, the left tackle is usually the most valuable position on the offensive line. They are responsible for protecting the quarterback's blind side from incoming defenders.

What is it called when a defensive player makes contact with an offensive player before the ball is snapped?

Some defenders try to get a jump on the ball to gain an advantage against the offense. Quarterbacks will use a hard count to check defenders and keep this from happening.

What is it called when the quarterback throws the ball out of bounds while inside the tackle box?

Intentional grounding can result in several scenarios. It is an automatic loss of down and can also result in a ten-yard​ loss, a spot foul or a safety.

What do you call a run between the center and guard?

Marshawn Lynch is a physical specimen at the running back position. When he comes running up the middle, defenders have to make a career decision on if they want to tackle him.

What is it called when the quarterback throws the ball at the ground to stop the clock?

To win a game against the Jets in 1994, Dan Marino famously faked a spike and threw a touchdown pass to win the game for the Dolphins. The game has become known as the "Fake Spike Game."

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