THE FIRST DOWN The offense has four downs, or opportunities, to gain 10 yards each time it takes the ball. If the offensive team moves the ball 10 yards or more, it receives a first down and another set of four downs. If it doesn't, the game ends with the defense getting one last chance.
The number 10 is important in football because it represents a first down. A first down can be gained by reaching ten yards through direct advancement or via a penalty. When a player reaches out for a pass, if he crosses the line of scrimmage, he has reached a new spot on the field and obtained a new opportunity to advance the ball. This is called "catching a pass". If a player runs directly into the end zone for a touchdown, he has also caught a pass and has gained a first down.
In order for a play to be recognized as a first down, three things must happen: the snapper must snap the ball, the referee must signal "down" and the captain of the offense (usually the quarterback) must acknowledge that they have caught a pass by saying either "first down" or "good job". If any of these steps are missed, then the play is declined and the opponent gets a free kick.
In order to get a first down in football, the offense must go 10 yards towards the opposing end zone. If the offense fails to get the necessary 10 yards for a first down on the first play, it becomes a second down. The offense has four chances to get back to a first down by gaining 10 yards. If they fail to do so, then the game ends in a tie.
The number of yards needed to be first downs has changed over time. In the early years of American football, players would often run into the opposition's territory with no intention of coming out again. As a result, they would often go too far and lose yardage. In 1897, the distance was reduced to 10 yards; from then on, it has remained that way.
During World War II, football attendance fell off considerably because men were serving in the military or working on farms. To keep fans interested but not allow them to think about what team was doing on the field, coaches began calling for yardages more frequently. By the 1950s, teams were asking for first downs every time they went outside the pocket. This increased need for yardage after each play caused many people to criticize the sport as being too physical until the NFL agreed to change its rules in 1997. Now, if a ball carrier loses possession by being tackled or thrown out of bounds, he can regain it by advancing the ball 10 yards forward.
In essence, you get four efforts (called downs) to move the ball 10 yards (by either running with it or passing it). If you gain 10 yards, you will be given another set of four downs. If you don't gain any yardage, then the opposing team gets a chance to advance the ball into your territory.
There are several ways that a team can lose a football game, with something called "a loss by loss" being the most common one. If this happens, the team that loses the game will have a record of 0-1, while the team that wins will have a record of 1-1. A team cannot have a record of 0-2 or 1-2, because this would mean that they had lost both games that were played against them.
A tie is only possible in sports where each team gets an opportunity to score points during each quarter. In college football, for example, if both teams are still playing at the end of the first quarter, there has been a tie. The two teams would return to their respective sides of the field and continue play in the second quarter. As soon as someone scores a touchdown, they win or lose the game. A tie does not exist in college football; only winners and losers are acknowledged after a game.