The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 6 Points Per Touchdown

football, basics, playoffs, touchdown


Here is possibly the biggest football misconception in existence: touchdowns are worth 7 points.

In a true or false test, that would be false. Because it is.

Touchdowns are worth 6 points!

Here’s the deal: when a touchdown is scored, the team that scored the touchdown gets another play to tack more points on to the touchdown. Most choose to kick an extra point, a kicking play kicked from the 2-yard line. Almost always, it’s a sure bet because a kick at the distance is a chip shot for an NFL kicker. Thus, most teams earn 7 points from most touchdowns.

But there is another option for scoring after touchdowns. The scoring team can opt to try a 2-point conversion. Instead of kicking an extra point from the 2-yard line, they can try to get the football into the end zone (by running or passing – just like a touchdown) from the 2-yard line. If they do, they earn 2 points, and in that case, the entire touchdown transaction would be worth 8 points.

But a touchdown in and of itself? That’s always worth 6 points.

How is a touchdown scored in the first place? Good question!

touchdown is scored when one team gets the football into the other team’s end zone. If the football is entering the end zone by a running player, the football has to cross the goal line and be inside of the pylons to count as a touchdown.

(Goal Line? Pylon? Say what? Check out this post.)

If the football is being caught in the end zone by a receiver, the receiver must have two feet down in-bounds and have full control of the ball for it to count as a touchdown.

There are other ways to score, but the touchdown is the king of them all.

At the Water Cooler : Divisional Weekend

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (Seahawks won, 23-15)

This round was certainly much closer than the last round, but in the end, it was play calling and decision making (including this mind-boggling one to end the game) that sent the Saints home. Seattle doesn’t look as good offensively as they have in the past, but the Legion of Boom looks as good as ever.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (Patriots won, 43-22)

I was completely convinced that the Colts were going to come back to win after scoring a touchdown to close the Pats’ lead to 7 in the 3rd quarter. But a third interception from Andrew Luck (though only 2 were really his fault) sealed the deal for New England. To add insult to injury, Tom Brady proved that he really can do everything.

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (49ers won, 23-10)

The Panthers undoing came by choosing to only score points in the 2nd quarter. At halftime, this was a competitive 13-10 game. But the wheels noticeably came off as the second half progressed. The Niners are now off to their 3rd conference championship game in three years. That’s incredible.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (Broncos won, 24-17)

If you only watched this game in the final minutes of the 4th quarter you probably never would have guessed that the score was 17-0 just minutes before. True to form, the Chargers mounted a surprising comeback and seemed like they just might keep the good times rollin’ on their wild playoff ride. But it wasn’t to be, and as a result, we all get to see another edition of Brady v. Manning.

And all is as it should be.

Manning and the Broncos will travel to Brady and the Patriots for the AFC Championship next Sunday. We’ll chat more about that game on Friday, and the NFC game, too:  a Niners at Seahawks rematch in Seattle.

Oh. My. Word.

It’s going to be one amazing Conference Championship Sunday, people.

What to Know : Divisional Weekend

Divisional weekend of the playoffs has arrived! Here are a few things to note for each game.

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (Saturday at 4:35pm EST, FOX)

The Saints are hoping the second verse is not the same as the first. The Saints played a Monday nighter in Seattle earlier this season and were pounded in a 34-7 loss. This seems like an easy out: the Saints are notoriously bad on the road; the Seahawks are notoriously unbeatable at home. However, it’s the playoffs: notoriously unpredictable.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (Saturday at 8:15pm EST, CBS)

Here’s a word to the wise: don’t turn this game off, no matter what the score is. In Week 12, the Patriots overcame a 24-point deficit to beat the Broncos. Last weekend, the Colts overcame a 28-point deficit to beat the Chiefs. So no matter what the scoreboard says, watch this one until the clock reads zero.

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (Sunday at 1:05pm EST, FOX)

The 49ers are one heck of a road team. But traveling to the east coast for an early game after playing in the arctic in a late game in Green Bay last weekend at the end of an already long season seems like a significant challenge. Both quarterbacks can run, both defenses are no joke. This should be a tough win for either team.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (Sunday at 4:40pm EST, CBS)

If you’ve listened to any sports analysts over the past week you’ve probably heard that this game is an upset waiting to happen. I think that’s a little overstated; this is the same San Diego team that had a hard time beating the Chiefs second string all of two weeks ago. However, 6th seeds have done notoriously well in the playoffs in recent years. The Chargers do have all the makings of a miracle run, but the Broncos have Peyton Manning. I wouldn’t count him out just yet, regardless of his less-than-stellar playoff persona.

The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 7 Hole

football, basics, playoffs, hole

I hope you guys didn’t have plans to do anything other than learn football, because apparently I decided to hit you with all of the hard stuff this week. But you are going to rock this weekend’s playoff games with all of this new info, so there’s that.

Ok! So, 7-hole. As per usual, it sounds like something it’s not. Golf, in this case.

In Monday’s post we referenced gaps, and today we’re going to talk about a similar concept: holes. Here’s the thing:

To prevent both offensive and defensive play calling from turning into “Hey, I’m going over there and you go over there!” football has a system of naming spaces in the offensive line. Defensive players identify space with letters called gaps. Offensive players identify spaces with numbers called holes. As with techniques, the value increases from inside to outside.

So in Monday’s post about defensive techniques, we described players as being responsible for “shooting the B gap” or “blocking the A gap.” That just means they are responsible for that specific space on the offensive line. It looks something like this:

football, basics, gaps

On offense, the gaps are numbered, not lettered. Like this:

football, basics, holes

What do those numbers mean?

The number of the hole tells the running back where to go when the play is called. Even numbers are always on the right, odd numbers are always on the left, and both increase as they move from inside to outside. Identifying the hole in the play call lets all of the other offensive players know where the play is going and therefore the area they are responsible for blocking.

So, as per this post, let’s say a running play was called and it was called to go through the 7-hole. The running back would take the handoff and go to the outside left, probably receiving blocking help from the tight end and left side of the offensive line.

Make sense?

For much, much more on all things gaps and holes, check out this post.

The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 8 in the Box

football, basics, playoffs, box

Since we conquered the world of techniques in yesterday’s post, we’re going to leap right into another slightly-more-than-basic concept today: having “8 in the box.”

It sounds like the start of a good nursery rhyme.

Here’s what it actually means:

“The box” is the defensive area directly across from the offensive line (the 5 man line consisting of the Left TackleLeft GuardCenterRight Guard, and Right Tackle). It’s the space occupied by the defensive line and the linebackers, or the dark blue and light purple areas of this visual:

defense, zones, football

Usually, there are 7 players in the box. Depending on the defensive formation a team is running, those 7 players consist of either 3 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers or 4 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers (learn more about  4-3 and the 3-4 defenses here).

When a defense is anticipating a running play and wants extra protection up front, they’ll put “8 in the box” – meaning they’ll add another player up front to help guard against a running play. They’ll also bring another player up front if they want to blitz the quarterback.

Who is the extra player? More often than not, it’s the strong safety (the safety who is playing on the same side of the field as the tight end). He’ll come down from his usual position upfield where he defends against the pass and will “shake down” into the box instead. This gives the defense the advantage of having an extra man in coverage near the line of scrimmage.

It can backfire if the offense decides to pass instead of run or if the quarterback gets a pass off before the blitz arrives. The defense now has one less defender upfield in pass protection, which makes it much easier for the offense to find an open receiver.

9-techniques and 8 in the box. Done and done. You guys are pros.

The 12 Posts of Playoffs : 9-technique

football, basics, playoffs, technique

Ok, so we’re diving a little bit deeper into the football world today, but I know you can handle it!

A 9-technique is a defensive technique. Which begs the question, what is a defensive technique?

A defensive technique probably sounds like it’s describing a specific aspect of a defender’s play, like he has a trick move that he whips out on blitzes or something. But techniques actually refer to a defender’s stance when he lines up on the defensive line.

We’ll back this truck up for a minute to remember that the defensive linemen are the players lined up directly across from the offensive linemen. The defensive line consists of defensive tackles and defensive ends.


basic, football, offense, defense

(To clarify, the defensive line is in light green. The darker green squares labeled CB are cornerbacks; they are part of the secondary. If your brain feels like it’s in a blender, feel free to read this post all about defense.)

Ok, so for the players on the defensive line, each guy lines up in a specific “technique.” You’ll hear this terminology used quite a bit when draft time comes to call – analysts will be talking about a player as “a great 3-technique,” and so on and so forth. The technique describes his location on the line and what his primary responsibilities are.

In general, techniques are identified by numbers, starting with zero, and increase from inside to outside (almost always – this is still football, after all).

It looks like this:

football, fundamentals, technique

image by Pro Football Focus

There is an alternative system of numbering these techniques created by the legendary Bear Bryant, but it’s not quite as straightforward as this one. We’re going to stick to this method today, but feel free to read about both methods in this post all about techniques.

Ok, so the white line that crosses the field is the line of scrimmage. The circles on top of the line are the offensive line (plus one tight end on each side just to show how the numbers work when a tight end lines up with the O-line). The numbers on the bottom of the line indicate the “technique” of the player who would be standing in that position.

Stay with me, here.

So if a defensive linemen, usually a nose tackle, is lined up directly across from the center, he’s playing 0-technique. If a defensive tackle is lined up to the outside should of an offensive guard (labeled RG or LG), he’s playing 3-technique. If he’s lined up to the inside shoulder, he’s playing 1-technique. Directly over? 2-technique.

As per our post, the 9-technique would be lined up where?

If you guessed the outside shoulder of the tight end, you are correct!

Now the question is: who goes where? What type of player fits the mold for each technique? Let’s consider that in terms of odd-numbered techniques (except for zero), the ones most frequently used to describe defensive linemen:

0-technique: usually the biggest guy of the bunch. He’s traditionally (but not always) responsible for blocking the center and defending both A gaps*, so he’s got to be large enough to take up a lot of space on the field.

1-technique: similar physique and job description as the 0-technique, but he usually defends one gap (the A gap), not two, and should command attention from both the center and the guard.

3-technique: the lineman aligned in this position is poised for disruption. It’s his job to shoot the B gap and get into the backfield to disrupt any running or passing plays. As per Pro Football Focus (which is a must read for more information about these techniques – or about anything football, for that matter): “Unlike the first two tackle positions, the 3-technique relies far more on speed and agility than brute strength.”

5-technique: this alignment is designed to block the B and C gaps, not so much through size, but through length. The 5-technique player is usually large, but also tall.

7-technique: it’s all about setting the edge and stopping the run for the 7-technique player. In the case of a passing play, the lineman in this position should also be able to elude the tight end and the tackle and get into the backfield to disrupt a passing play.

9-technique: these are the speed rushers; the guys who are going to fly off the defensive line and into the backfield to rush the quarterback.

*Gaps? What? Read this post

So…that’s a lot to swallow, but does it kind of make sense? Questions, comments, and snide remarks welcomed below!