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Football Scoring

How does scoring points work in football? What is a football touchdown? What is a football safety? What is a football field goal? Get ready to learn about football scoring.

Scoring In Football

There are lots of ways to score points in football. Scoring in football can happen with:

  • touchdowns
  • field goals
  • safeties
  • extra points (the try)
  • two point conversions (the try)

End Zones

All scoring happens in the end zones and each team gets one to defend.

football-end-zone

Touchdowns

A touchdown is worth six points. A team must carry or catch the ball in the opposing team's end zone while staying inbounds. They also must touch two feet to the ground while holding and controlling the ball for the touchdown to count. After a touchdown, teams are awarded an extra point try.

The Try

The try is an untimed down to score additional points only after a touchdown is scored.

REMEMBER: No one calls the extra point or two point conversion "the try." They call it the extra point or two point conversion!

Extra Points

On the extra point, a kicker kicks the ball in the opposing team's goal post. Extra points are worth one additional point. Most teams elect to kick the ball on the extra point for one point. This is because the extra point kick is a very high percentage play, and is thought of as guaranteed points. However, keep in mind that the extra point try was moved from the two yard line to the 15 yard line preceding the 2015 season. Before the rule change, teams kicked successful extra points 97 percent of the time. This number dropped to 94.2 percent in the first year with the new rule.

football-extra-points

Two Point Conversions

A two point conversion is a team's other option after scoring a touchdown. On the conversion, a team must carry or catch the ball in the opposing team's end zone while staying inbounds. Conversions are like touchdowns but they only happen after touchdowns are scored. Conversions are worth two additional points. The play begins at the two yard line.

football-two-point-conversion

Field Goals

Field goals happen when a kicker, a player on the special teams, kicks the ball through the goal post in the opposing team's end zone. Field goals are worth three points.

football-field-goal

A Safety

Safeties happen when the offense makes a mistake in their own end zone with the ball. The offense either goes out of bounds, gets tackled, or fumbles out of bounds in their own endzone. A safety is worth two points for the opposing team, who gets to retain possession of the ball.

football-safety

REMEMBER: Safeties are the only way the team on defense can score points without having the ball.

One-Point Safety

There is also an extremely rare one-point safety that only applies during extra points. The same rules as a safety apply, except it is only worth a single point because it occurs during a PAT. This has only happened a few times (ever) in college football, and has never occurred in the NFL.

Scoring Terms

Here are some glossary terms related to football scoring:

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