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The Super Bowl For Dummies: Part II

Super Bowl ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is congratulated by Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons after their 30-23 win at Georgia Dome on September 29, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Why hello there NFL newb! We can see you now; you agreed to go and watch the Super Bowl with your mates, despite knowing more about quantum mechanics than the New England Patriots. In fact, the most knowledge you possess may come from two badly played quarters of NFL Madden on the Playstation.

You threw numerous ‘Hail Mary’s before evacuating or returning to FIFA.  You may even have watched an episode or two of “Friday Night Lights” at a push.

Despite the stereotypical ineptitude, a few of your friends have finally found Mecca as the Superbowl is the ideal excuse to go drinking on a Sunday night.

You all are going to bluff it, so why not come out the most astute and quasi-knowledgeable. In reading this, you may just get away with it!

In part one we discussed the pageantry of Super Bowl LI.  Part two will discuss the basic nuances of the game itself and give a football for dummies’ guide to the Super Bowl to the unwashed masses.

What does “Rushing” mean?

Rushing is where (usually) the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back. Much like the name suggests, his role is to run or “rush” the ball.The other 10 players on his team may block the opposition from tackling him as he tries to go as far as possible.  The main rushers in the Super Bowl are the dynamic duo of Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman for the Atlanta Falcons and a combination of LeGarrett Blount, Jonas

The other 10 players on his team may block the opposition from tackling him as he tries to go as far as possible. The main rushers in the Super Bowl are the dynamic duo of Devonte Freeman and Tevin Coleman for the Atlanta Falcons and a combination of LeGarrett Blount and Jonas Grey for the New England Patriots. 

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots runs the ball in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

So Why are Quarterbacks the Stars?

The QB is the most essential player for most teams because the onus is on him alone to make good passes to his receivers. Before the play, he often decides what the offence is going to do, and may audit his decision at the line, alternating whether to run or pass. The offensive line block for him like they do for the running back so he can pass the ball to an open receiver who tries to get a first down.

If they can keep their blocks, it gives him more time to get the pass to a receiver before a defensive player can tackle him. Quarterbacks are the stars but they depend on their offensive line and receivers to make them look good. The Super Bowl sees the QB match-up of wily Pats’ (New England) demi-God Tom Brady versus Matt Ryan of the Falcons.

Ryan’s game has been completely reinvigorated by offensive co-ordinator Kyle Shanahan, the new guru of the NFL.

His MVP calibre season is earmarked by the fact that the Falcons offence led the league in scoring (33.8 per game), a figure so astronomical it was the eighth best of all time.

Despite being blessed with the best wide-receiver in football Julio Jones, Ryan broke another NFL record of throwing to 13 different receivers over the course of the season.  We could blabber on about Ryan for days, but to put it simply, his regular season numbers of 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, a 69.9 percent completion rate, an absurd 9.3 yards per attempt — all but guarantee that he’ll be named MVP.

Conversely, despite having a four-game suspension imposed upon him following the ‘Deflate-gate’ scandal (see part I), Tom Brady could easily have picked up his third MVP award.

His gaudy numbers included a preposterously low two interceptions in ratio to twenty-eight touchdowns in his twelve games.  Both men would trade all that praise in for a Super Bowl MVP award come Sunday night, an opportunity Ryan has yet to taste while Brady would seek three of already across his four Super Bowl wins.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots cheers as he runs on to the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

D … D … Defence

Good news everybody, neither of these two defences are all that good.  While we were treated to a defensive spectacle with the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks Super Bowls of recent years, expect swashbuckling attacks from both the Patriots and Falcons.

Both teams have dominated their divisions by blasting opposition through excellent diverse attack, rather than stifling them defensively.

The defence is split into three levels, defensive line-men (bigger heavier bodies whom are the first line of defence), defensive backs (smaller more agile defenders whom line up against the wide receivers of the attack, and finally line backers. The line backers act as a hybrid of the other two lines, covering receivers as well as entering the back field to get after the quarter back or stuff the run.

Atlanta’s defence is led by pass rusher Vic Beasley (15.5 sacks this year), who isn’t joined by the most illustrious of line-ups.  The Falcons defence has continued to improve all year in spite of this and players like Robert Alford (Cornerback) and Keanu Neal in only his second season have made a sufficient leap to make the Super Bowl.

On the opposite side, the Patriots defence includes a few names that stand out.  Of course, they will trot out Super Bowl XLIX (2015) hero Malcolm Butler as well as Logan Ryan, Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty, a formidable defensive back unit who will try to contain this juggernaut offence and the electric Julio Jones.

Trey Flowers led their squad with a lowly seven sacks on the year, but he is part of a much more balanced line in terms of its potency than that of Atlanta.  Don’t be surprised if older heads like Chris Long and Rob Ninkovich find their way to stardom, the Patriots have a habit of finding huge contributions from where they aren’t expected.

What Is that Luminous Line on the Field for? And what are “downs”???

That yellow hue is 10 yards ahead of the line of scrimmage on first down. The attacking team has four attempts at cumulatively getting past that line using a combination of runs and passes. Each attempt is a “down”, so if you hear “third and six” that means that on the third attempt the offence is six yards from getting past the marker.

Once the team gets past the marker, they try and go as far as they can past it. They then have a new “first-down” (and three fresh attempts) from wherever they are stopped or go out of bounds until they get into the end-zone for a touchdown.

If the attacking team do not get past the marker after three downs, they usually punt (kick) the ball down the field on the fourth down so that when the defensive team gets the ball, they are as far away as possible from scoring. After the punt the other team takes possession. If a team “goes for it” on fourth down and they fail to pass the marker for a new first down, the defensive team takes possession of the ball in that spot.

The technology that produces the line is absolutely fascinating also!

Tom Brady… He is married to Gisele Bundchen right?

Yes, he is. Brady is the stereotypical American quarterback superhero and at 39, this may be his last Super Bowl. However, that isn’t the first year I have written that phrase. Brady’s legend began in that he was aggrieved by being drafted late in the NFL draft in the sixth round as the 199th pick.

At such a specialist position, a sixth-round draft choice should never have been heard of again, but Tom Brady is an exception to the rule. In 2001, after starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured, Brady took over, leading the Pats to an impressive 11-3 record.  Bledsoe never returned and we were treated to one of the undisputed top five quarterbacks ever. Brady has played in seven Super Bowls, winning four, winning two league MVP awards in the process and three Super Bowl MVPs.

Given the uproar for and against Brady during Deflategate as well as the general hatred of success that consumes much of the free world, it would be the most poetic irony should he collect another Super Bowl MVP from Roger Goodell on Sunday.

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What are other terms I (as a hacker) should know?

  • TouchdownA score, worth six points, that occurs when a player in possession of the ball crosses the plane of the opponent’s goal line, or when a player catches the ball while in the opponent’s end zone.  Hackers will know a touchdown has taken place when they see lots of huge athletes jumping up and down like excited children at Christmas!
  • End Zone: This is a 10-yard-long area at both ends of the field — the promised land for a football player. You score a touchdown when you enter the end zone in control of the football.  That’s when all the hackers can shout “TOUCHDOWN!”
  • Field Goal: A kick, worth three points, that can be attempted from anywhere on the field. Instead of punting the ball further down the field for position on fourth down, they may attempt a field goal.
  • Fumble: When a team loses possession of the ball while running with it or being tackled. Members of the offense and defence can recover a fumble. If the defence recovers the fumble, the fumble is called a turnover and possession goes to that team.  Watch to make sure the player has possession and control of the ball before he fumbles it, otherwise it is not a fumble.

  • Sack: Yes, it does sound funny when the commentator shouts how the quarterback has been “sacked for a loss.”  This means that before the quarterback has passed or handed off the ball, the defensive line players have got past the offensive line players (the ones blocking them) and tackled him behind the line of scrimmage. This means that the play ends and the offensive team resume from where the QB was tackled. This often results in teams being second and fifteen (yards to a first down).

  • Snap: The action in which the ball is hiked (tossed between the legs) by the centre (an offensive line blocker) to the quarterback.  When the snap occurs, the ball is officially in play and the defence can try and stop the offence.

Now you are armed to go out and still not understand the biggest yearly sporting event in the world. Enjoy!

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.