Here’s a football fact you already know:
The team with the most points wins the game.
See! You can do this!!!
While the most publicized (and coveted) way to earn those points is by scoring touchdowns, there are other ways to pad the numbers on your side of the scoreboard. In today’s postseason prep, we’ll talk about all of the ways that scoring happens.
Touchdowns (6 Points) (Not 7!)
A 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? Greek? 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.
Extra Points (1 Point) (You already knew that)
As an added bonus, teams get to have an extra opportunity to score points after scoring a touchdown. Most will kick the extra point: a scoring attempt kicked from the 2-yard line that counts for 1 point. (That’s why it’s usually perceived that touchdowns are worth 7 points – 6 points for the touchdown + 1 point for the extra point = 7 points.)
Going for 2 (You guessed it…2 Points!)
Going for 2 is the other thing a team can do after they score a touchdown. 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.
Field Goals (3 Points)
If a team decides to kick a field goal (why would they? find out here), it’s kicked from the current line of scrimmage (the imaginary starting line where the ball is placed) and it’s worth 3 points. One thing to keep in mind with field goals: the actual field goal distance is the line of scrimmage + 17 yards. So if your team is at the 30-yard line and decides to kick a field goal, it’s not a 30-yard field goal. It’s a 47-yard field goal. That’s because the goal post is at the back of the end zone (10 yards deep) and the kicker lines up 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. 30 yard line + 17 extra yards = 47 yard field goal.
A “pick six” is when a defender picks off a pass intended for a receiver and runs it into the end zone for a touchdown. He picked it off and returned it for a touchdown – 6 points – hence the name pick six. Points can also be scored on recovered fumbles. If a player loses the ball and a defensive player recovers it and runs it into the end zone for a touchdown, that’s also worth 6 points. (For all things turnovers, check out this post.)
Safety (2 points)
Just to keep things interesting, a safety is both a player and a play. Because why not? To make things even more interesting, safeties can be scored in a variety of ways: 1. If an offensive player is tackled with the ball while still in his own end zone, 2. If the offense gets called for a holding or intentional grounding penalty while in their own end zone, and 3. If the offense kicks the ball out of bounds or the quarterback steps out of bounds while in his own end zone. Safeties result in 2 points for the defense, and, salt in the wound, the offense doesn’t even get the ball back immediately afterward like they would after a scoring play on a turnover. They have to kick the ball off to the defense on their own 20.
Kick returned for a touchdown (6 points)
As we all saw in the Auburn Alabama game, kicks – whether missed field goals or kickoffs – can be returned for touchdowns.
And that’s a wrap! Even though scoring is traditionally thought of as the offense’s thing, scoring can happen by any unit at any time.
And that’s why we love football.