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  3. Football Touchback

Football Touchback

A touchback in football is a ruling on a play when a ball is dead in the endzone and the defensive team has possession. The ball has to have traveled into the endzone via the offensive team.

Touchbacks can result from the following:

  • A kickoff or punt which lands in the end zone
  • A kickoff or punt that goes out of bounds in the endzone
  • A kickoff or punt returner takes a knee in his own endzone with the ball
  • The defensive team intercepts the ball in their own endzone and is downed or goes out of bounds through the end zone
  • The defensive team recovers a fumble in their own endzone and is downed or goes out of bounds through the end zone
  • The offense fumbles the ball forward out of the end zone
  • A kickoff returner calls for a fair catch behind the 25-yard line

What Happens Following a Touchback?

The ball is left at the 25-yard line following a touchback. The team who was on defense and gained possession of the ball will start a drive on first down.

football touchback

Originally, the ball was placed at the 20-yard line after touchbacks. In 2016, the NFL moved touchbacks up five yards to the 25-yard line. The change provided an incentive to the receiving team to take more touchbacks rather than trying to return kickoffs.