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Football Safety

What is a safety in football? How many points is a safety worth? Get ready to learn about football safeties and the difference between NFL safeties and NCAA safeties in football.

What is a safety?

A safety in football happens when a team makes a mistake in their own end zone. It is worth two points for the opposing team. Safeties are the only way the team on defense can score points in football without having possession of the ball. If a safety occurs, the team who was on defense is awarded two points.

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What prompts a safety?

A safety happens when a player with possession of the ball retreats into his own team's end zone and does one of the following:

Safety Kicks

Whenever a safety happens in a football game, a safety kick, which is a type of kickoff, will immediately follow it to put the ball back into play. Safety kicks differ from normal kickoffs based on the restraining lines on the field. The restraining line for the receiving team is placed 20 yards away from the 35 yard line instead of 10 yards away on normal kickoffs. Safety kicks require the kicker to punt the ball, rather than kicking off a tee, which typically happens after other scoring plays.

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Avoiding a Safety

When the offensive team is close to their own endzone, they can take certain measures to avoid taking a safety, like:

  • Punting
  • Low risk plays to advance the ball
  • Staying out of their own endzone

In rare cases, teams will purposely take a safety. If they don't want to punt from right in front of their endzone on fourth down, it may be beneficial to take a safety and kick off from the 45 yard line instead. However, this strategy gives the other team two points.

One Point Safety

A one point safety is a certain type of safety that occurs on a PAT (points after touchdown) play. If either team is tackled in their own end zone, resulting in a safety during the extra point play, the safety counts for one point rather than two.

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