Postseason Prep : How Scoring Happens

football, basics, scoring

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.


Pick Six or Fumble Returned for a Touchdown (6 points)

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.

The Basics : Scoring

Today’s Basics post is all scoring, which is kind of the whole point of the game. So it’s a special week here! Let’s get movin’!

Things the Offense Wants to Happen:

Touchdown = 6 points! WOOT!

A touchdown is scored when the FOOTBALL (not the player) crosses the goal line into the end zone. However, the player must maintain control of the football while in the boundaries of the end zone in order for it to count as a touchdown (this is where instant replay and endless dissection of where exactly the ball is located comes into play).

Extra Point (aka Point After Touchdown or PAT) = 1 point

Which is why touchdowns are commonly thought to be worth 7 points. Not true! The extra point is kicked after a touchdown is made. It’s kicked from really close (the 2 yard line) so it almost always goes through.

Two-Point Conversion = 2 points

(Bet you could have figured that one out on your own.)

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If a team could greatly benefit from scoring 2 points instead of the standard 1 after scoring a touchdown, they’ll line up like they would if it were running a regular play and try to run or pass the ball into the end zone for a two point conversion.

Things the Offense does NOT want to Happen:

Safety = 2 points

(Not to be confused with Safeties, who are Defensive players.)

This is when an Offensive player is tackled in his OWN end zone. The two points are then awarded to the other team. It usually happens when the Offense gets stuck way far back in their own territory after penalties or a really, really good kickoff.


There are three ways that the Offense can “turn the ball over” to the Defense, which results in the Defense gaining possession of the football.

Fumbles: This is when the player who is carrying the ball either drops it or has it ripped away from him. Whoever recovers the ball gains possession of the ball and, consequently, a new Offensive possession.

Interceptions: This is when the ball is thrown and someone on the Defense catches it. Safeties and Cornerbacks are good at this.

Failed 4th Down Conversions: This is when the team goes for it on 4th down and doesn’t get the yardage needed to reach 10 yards for a new set of downs. For example: a team goes for it on 4th and 2 and only gains 1 yard. Since they did not earn a new set of downs, the other team gets the ball at it’s current spot on the field.