Football 1-Point Safety Rule

Football 1 Point Safety Rule

There are a variety of ways to score in football: touchdowns, field goals, safeties, two-point conversions, etc. However, there is one scoring option that is so rare, it has never occurred in NFL history. This method is the one-point safety. So what exactly is the one-point safety?

What is One-Point Safety In Football?

A safety in football is defined as anytime a team commits a penalty in their own end zone, or when the ball is declared dead after it has gone behind the offensive team's goal line. Normally, a safety is worth two points in standard play. However, there is an incredibly rare technicality that allows for a one-point safety. The number of errors that need to occur in succession require an unbelievable amount of luck, to an extent where it is almost impossible for this event to occur in natural play.

How Do You Get A One-Point Safety?

In order to incur a one-point safety, several events need to transpire. Before the one-point safety can even be considered, a touchdown has to be scored by the offensive team. While in most instances of a safety score being recorded, there is no requirement for a touchdown (or any offensive progress for that matter), the one-point safety necessitates the offensive team not only scores a touchdown, but has squandered an extra point attempt. NFL kickers on average make 94% of extra point attempts, and so the amount of chances a defense will have to intercept or block a kicked extra point attempt is negligible. 

In order to score a one-point safety, first, the offensive team has to fumble the ball or have a kick blocked on an extra point. After this event, the kicking team must recover the ball all the way back in their own end zone and be tackled for the opposing team to record a one-point safety. Since the kicking team’s end zone is about 70 yards behind them, it is extremely rare for them to be anywhere near their own end zone, where a safety can be recorded.

Here is a breakdown of the steps:

  1. Offensive team scores
  2. Offensive team goes for an extra point or two-point conversion
  3. Offensive team loses the ball via fumble, interception, or block
  4. Defensive team takes said ball to the offensive teams goal line
  5. Defensive team fumbles the ball just before the endzone
  6. Offensive team regains possession in their own endzone
  7. Defensive team tackles the ball holder or causes a dead ball in the offensive end zone
  8. The one-point safety is incurred

Has It Been Done?

Since the events leading up to the one-point safety are so specific and uncommon, the one-point safety has never been recorded in NFL history. The only two known instances of the one-point safety rule ever being enacted occurred in college football. These two games were the 2004 Texas A&M-Texas game, and the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. Beyond these instances, there are no recorded uses of the one-point safety rule ever being put into effect in either collegiate or NFL history. There was one instance in 2018, during the Bills-Patriots game where the one-point safety almost transpired, but the play ultimately ended with no safety being recorded.


Is a One-Point Safety Possible in Football?

On a purely technical level, the one-point safety is entirely possible. However, because of the number of errors that need to happen in rapid succession, it is incredibly implausible. The one-point safety has never been recorded outside of two college-level football games, and only almost occurred in one NFL game in 2018.