NFL Referees Should Be Able To Ace This Quiz. Can You?


By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: Getty Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Pop Warner football ended yesterday, and your position as one of the top referees in the local league is put on hold until next year. The NFL is still running strong, however, as the playoffs approach. That also means the Super Bowl is near, the biggest game in all of football. Are you ready to grab your whistle and referee in the big game? Here's a quiz where you can find out!

Referees in the NFL have it rough. No one wants to hear from them, and when they do speak, half of the stadium hates what they have to say. Still, their position on the field is vital to the success of the game. After all, teams wouldn't be able to operate without referees there to mediate. 

Of course, that also means that referees have to do their job not only to the best of their ability but almost to perfection. It's even more important for referees in the Super Bowl to be on their game. No one wants the big game decided on a bad call. 

Do you think you have what it takes to call the Super Bowl as a referee? Get started with this quiz and find out for yourself!

What decides which team gets the ball first?

In 1998, referee Phil Luckett heard the wrong call on the coin flip from Jerome Bettis heading into overtime in a Thanksgiving game between the Steelers and the Lions. The mishap gave the Lions the ball, and they went on to score and win the game on their first drive.


How does a game start?

Teams can choose to go for an onside kick if they wish. However, the odds of recovering the ball are slim, and it leaves the other team with great field position.


How long is each quarter?

Chip Kelley, who coached the Eagles and 49ers, tried to implement his no-huddle offense that he brought from college during his tenure in the NFL. The offense was designed to run as many plays as possible each quarter.


Where do you score a touchdown?

Peyton Manning knew how to get the ball in the end zone through the air. At the time of his retirement, he had put the ball in the end zone 539 times on pass plays.


What line divides the end zone from the field of play?

No running back crossed the goal line more than Emmitt Smith. During his career, Smith scored 164 rushing touchdowns.


How many officials are on the field?

The crew chief is the head referee and has the final call on all decisions in the game. They are distinguished by the white hats they wear during the game.


What comes after a touchdown?

In 2015, the NFL decided to move the extra point to the 15-yard line. The move has changed the game, as more and more teams are failing to convert on the extra point attempt.


How long is the field without the end zones?

Pass plays in the NFL cannot go more than 99 yards. The last time a pass play went 99 yards was in 2011, when Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz against the Jets.


What is the max number of players on defense at a time?

Defenses use various formations which involve different packages of players. Two popular defensive fronts are the 4-3 defense and the 3-4 defense.


How many downs are provided to a team to get a new first down?

The best offenses in the NFL are capable of moving the ball down the field methodically, picking up first down after first down. By doing this, the team's defense has time to rest, and the other team's offense can't score if they aren't on the field.


What can a team do on fourth down to change field position?

Special teams are often an overlooked but integral part of a team's success. Success on special teams is one of the reasons the Patriots have won five Super Bowls under Bill Belichick.


The ball is spotted on or inside what?

Kickers like for the ball to be on a certain hash mark when they are attempting a field goal. Offenses will sometimes waste a play so they can get the ball in the best spot for the kicker.


Which player snaps the ball?

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been taking snaps from center Maurkice Pouncey since 2010. Pouncey is a six-time Pro Bowler and was a National Champion in college.


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

No team has won more Super Bowls than the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team has won in a multitude of ways over the years, from pass-heavy​ offenses to ground and pound with tough defenses to back it up.


What is a dropped pass called?

In 2013, Nick Foles threw more touchdowns in a game than incomplete passes against the Oakland Raiders. He finished the game with seven touchdowns and only six incompletions.


What is a pass caught by the defense called?

Paul Krause, who played from 1964 through 1979, finished his career with 81 interceptions. That's an NFL record that still stands today.


How many points is a touchdown worth?

Super Bowl XXIX was the highest scoring championship game in NFL history. The game pitted the 49ers against the Chargers, and the final score was 49-26.


What is it called if a quarterback is tackled before he throws the ball?

Lawrence Taylor, who played for the New York Giants, revolutionized the linebacker position on defense. He was capable of rushing the quarterback from anywhere on the field, which put fear into opposing offenses worried about where he was coming from.


What happens if a quarterback is sacked in his own end zone?

Peyton Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion. However, he also lost horribly in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seahawks in a game that started with a safety on the first play from scrimmage.


How can you score on offense other than a touchdown?

The longest field goal in NFL history was kicked by Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos in 2013. The ball went 64 yards for the score.


Which player can be charged with intentional grounding?

Competing in eight Super Bowls, Tom Brady has been to the big game more than any other quarterback. Of those games, he came away with five victories.


How many yards is a false start penalty?

The Seattle Seahawks play in CenturyLink Field, which is known for giving opposing teams headaches because of the crowd noise. The crowd even earned the nickname "The 12th Man," referring to their imagined presence as a 12th player on the field.


How long is the NFL play clock?

The elite quarterbacks around the NFL are masters at utilizing the play clock. They use the clock to change the pace of the game, speeding it up and slowing it down when necessary.


What's it called if the running back drops the ball on the ground?

Brett Favre set an outstanding number of records during his time in the NFL. However, his fumbling record is one that he wishes he could take away, as Favre finished his career as the all-time leader in fumbles.


What happens if a defender tackles a wide receiver while the ball is in the air?

Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, especially when it comes to creating separation from a defender. That's one of the reasons he has had at least 1,000 yards receiver every season except 2017 when he was injured.


How many forward passes can be thrown during a play?

Dan Marino spent his entire career with the Miami Dolphins, retiring in 1999. Marino is considered the greatest quarterback to never win a Super Bowl.


What is the area between the two tackles called?

In recent years, the Cowboys have decided to build a team around their offensive line. One of their most elite linemen​ is Zach Martin, who was taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.


How many yards is a holding penalty?

In 2017, holding was the most frequently called penalty. It was called 664 times across the league.


How many offensive players can go in motion at one time?

Kyle Shanahan, the head coach of the 49ers, is known for his complicated motion schemes on offense. These schemes are usually effective when he has the right players to execute them.


What happens if the play clock runs out before the ball is snapped?

In 2017, delay of game was called 130 times around the NFL. Those penalties cost teams 639 yards.


What is a backwards pass called?

Lateral passes help set up trick plays for offenses. One such play involves a lateral pass to a receiver where the receiver then throws the ball back to the quarterback who is typically uncovered if the play works correctly.


What penalty is called if the quarterback is hit late?

Quarterbacks are the face of an NFL franchise. That usually means they are the most protected position on the football field as well.


Which offensive player can defenders not hit while their head is down during a punt?

Safety continues to be a driving issue in the NFL, as new rules are constantly being implemented to make the game safer. This, particularly, pertains to concussions since the NFL faces a slew of lawsuits from former players over the issue.


Defenders can make contact with receivers within how many yards of the line of scrimmage?

With offenses becoming more complicated, shutdown corners are becoming a rarity in the NFL. However, Jalen Ramsey of the Jaguars let everyone know prior to the 2018 season that he's coming to prove that he's an elite NFL defender by calling out opposing players across the league.


How many timeouts does each team receive per half?

In 2014, the New York Jets lost a game to the Green Bay Packers after Sheldon Richardson, a defensive tackle for the Jets, called a timeout from the sideline right before a touchdown was scored by the Jets. The timeout negated the touchdown, and the Jets failed to score again.


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