First Thing's First and Ten

On Scoring, but Mostly on Kissing…

In order to score points in a football game, a team must move the ball down the field and into the end zone. After receiving the ball (at kickoff or from the opposing team’s punt), a team gets four chances (called downs) to move the ball 10 yards down the field. If they manage the 10 yards, the team gets a fresh set of downs to continue toward the goal line. If not, the team must punt the ball away to the opposing team, who will then start their own charge down the field. I’ll get into the rules of the charge next week, but for now… here’s what’s at stake on the field in terms of points and in life in terms of kisses (etc).

TOUCHDOWN: 6 points

A TD is achieved when a player carries the ball across the goal line or catches the ball in the end zone, while in possession of the ball (which means two-feet in bounds, on the ground). After scoring a touchdown, the team tries for a point-after-touchdown (PAT). With play starting at the 2-yard line, one extra point can be scored by successfully kicking the ball through the goal posts. The team can also try for a 2-point conversion, which looks like another touchdown. The team lines up and executes a running or passing play to get the ball back into the end zone. It’s much more difficult to get the 2-point conversion so you won’t see this as often, unless the score is treacherously close.

In the movie Amelie, Miss Poulain’s efforts to track down Nino Quincampoix (scavenger hunt! photo booth collage!) are rewarded by the sweetest, most tingly and satisfying onscreen kiss of all time… (her tiny neck tilt alone!) Dare you not to swoon all over your breakfast:

…And then there’s the more classic example from My So-Called Life. I was tempted to go with the boiler room scene here, but this kiss is a near-perfect example of effort and reward (if you’d been following Angela’s longing for the previous 6 episodes). Extra point for the surprise approach and pay special attention to the end-zone celebration after the goal:

FIELD GOAL: 3 points

A field goal is scored during a play where the kicker place-kicks or drop-kicks the football through the goal posts. This is usually attempted on 4th down when a team can’t make it far enough down the field to go for a touchdown and a try for another set of downs to get them close enough is too difficult. Most field goals are attempted within the 30-50 yard line range. Any closer and the team will probably try to ‘go for it’ and get a fresh set of downs, any further and the field goal becomes very risky. The record for a successful field goal attempt is from 63 yards, kicked by Tom Dempsey of the NO Saints in 1970 and by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos in 1998.

In life, a field goal is that kiss you’ll settle for when you can’t quite close the deal for a knee-weakening touchdown. This example from The Graduate shows how when you just can’t have what you want (Elaine), you’ll sometimes opt for the next best thing (HER MOM?!). I’m a big believer in waiting for that touchdown makeout, but enjoy this clip, which features the best awkward kiss of all time…

SAFETY: 2 points

A safety is scored by the defending team when the team in possession of the ball (offense) downs the ball behind it’s own goal line. It’s like an ‘own goal’ in soccer. USUALLY, the only time the offense is anywhere near their own goal line is at the start of possession, right after the opposing team has punted the ball down the field. The play that most often scores a safety, then, is when the quarterback is sacked on this opening drives. This one is a little harder to explain with words, so here are two examples…

This is a quarterback getting sacked behind the goal line for a safety:

This is the ball bouncing into the offensive team’s end zone for a safety. Unfortunately the clip can’t be embedded but you can watch it here: Bounce Safety.

Scoring like this is surprising, seems to come out of nowhere and throws an offense for a real loop. It’s not as big of a score, but sometimes it’s more exciting than a touchdown. In life, this is the sneak attack kiss, the against the rules kiss, the stranger in an elevator kiss (which never happens in real life, I know). This clip breaks my heart, every time:

And just to prove that the ‘stranger in an elevator’ kiss only happens in the movies, here’s one more clip to get you up and at ’em on this fine Sunday: