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For European football, see the soccer category.

American football video games are based on the American and Canadian sport of football, which is different than the game of football known elsewhere around the world. American football consists of two teams moving a ball across a 100-yard field to the opponent's "end zone." Each team consists of 11 players, with one team having possession of the ball at a time. Gameplay is split up into plays, each being marked as a separate "down." The team has four downs in which to advance the ball 10 yards or score a goal. If the team is able to advance 10 yards, the downs are reset and the team starts anew with a fresh first down.

Possession changes after four downs without moving the requisite amount of yards, after a team scores, or if the opposing team gains control of the ball during play (i.e. a fumble, interception, punt, etc.) Teams get six points for moving the ball into the opponent's end zone, called a touchdown. After a touchdown, the team is then given possession of the ball again on the opponent's 2-yard line and can score either one point for kicking the ball through the opponent's goal post at the back of the end zone, or two points for moving the ball into the end zone in a single normal play. Three points are awarded for kicking the ball through the goal posts on normal plays during the game.

This is by no means an exhaustive accounting of the rules of football. There are many more rules, ways to score and differences between games based on the NFL, college football, or football from elsewhere in the world. Also, different games will adhere more or less strictly to actual football rules depending on how realistic of a simulation they are trying to achieve.