1 point safety

What Is A 1 Point Safety In Football?

There are many ways teams can score points in football. You probably know of the 6-point touchdown score 3-point field goals. However, teams can also score small conversion points.

On rare occasions, teams can score a 1 point safety. So, what is the 1-point of safety in football?

A 1-point safety happens when a team attempting a 2-point conversion loses the ball, and the defense takes it out of the end zone before being tackled in the end zone for a safety.

It’s complicated for teams to score a 1-point safety. There are three main ways a safety point is awarded in football. Keep reading below to learn more about safety in football.

What Does Safety Mean in Football?

A safety in football is when teams make mistakes in their end zone. It’s usually the sole method the defense team can score without having the ball possession. Safety in football can involve offensive players being tackled in their end zone.

Offensive players can also commit penalties in their half. In case of a penalty, the opposing team gets two points.

Once a safety occurs, the offense will be kicking the ball to the team that scores the safety.

How Many Points Is A Safety

Safety in football is two points. However, on rare occasions, teams can get a 1-point safety. Safeties in football are rare and remain the lowest way of scoring.

a football game

When the offensive team gets penalized, the opposing team is awarded with a 2-point safety. If safety occurs during the extra-time of a two-point conversion, then a team gets a 1-point safety.

Overall, safety in football can happen in different ways. However, the common way is when players cause dead balls in their end zones.

History of the 1 Point Safety

1 point safety is quite rare in football. It even sounds funny that we are talking about it.

In the year 2015, the NFL changed conversion rules that allowed for 1-point safety. A safety would occur when the offense fumbles the ball in the opponent’s end zone or when opponents fumble the ball during a conversion attempt.

The change in conversion rules made it a lot easier for a safety point to occur in football. Before any change of the rules, the play would be dead when defensive players got possession in the two-point conversion.

It begs the question, why would defenders put themselves in positions where they can easily be tackled in their end zone? 

The rule change is the reason for the motivation. They can easily score two points with a return block, fumble, or kick. As such, they would want to return a blocked ball leading to the possibility of a 1-point safety.

 Initially, this was only possible in college football. And, indeed, it did happen in college football in 2013.

In a game between Kansas State and Oregon at the Fiesta Bowl, a one-point safety was awarded, as shown in the video.

The play started with Oregon scoring a touchdown and a Kansas player blocking a two-point conversion. The ball was subsequently picked by a Kansas player who advanced into his end zone before being tackled to give Oregon a 1-point safety.

When & How Can A 1-Point Safety Happen?

There are three instances when a 1-point safety can happen. Below are three ways when a 1-point safety can happen and how it happens.

#1. The offensive team trying a conversion getting tackled in their end zone

This is the most complex way a 1-point safety can happen and almost an impossible one. You can imagine the offense attempting a conversion within 2 yards of the opponent’s end zone.

two player playing football

It’s pretty rare since the offensive team would need to fumble the ball and somehow have it bounce to their end zone. Well, it doesn’t end there!

With the ball rolling back to their end zone, an offensive player will need to pick the ball and get downed in their end zone.

That’s a pretty difficult way for a 1-point safety to happen. It’s highly impossible, but if it ever happens, then a 1-point safety is given.

#2. Offense fumbling the ball into the opponent’s half

When defenders knock out the ball illegally out of bounds, they can be called for an infraction. If a defender does fumble the ball out of bounds in the opponent’s half, then a one-point safety will be awarded.

#3.Offensive team fumbling the ball during a conversion attempt

Lastly, a one-point safety can happen when the offense fumbles the ball when attempting a conversion.

A defender can then cleanly recover the ball and try advancing. However, when advancing, if the defender goes backward and gets tackled in his half, then a one-point safety is given.

The offense gets awarded 1 point as opposed to two points in normal safety cases.

Well, these are the three ways when a one-point safety can occur. As you can see, the first one is quite rare and even impossible. 

The second two ways are more likely to happen with the NFL adopting them as of 2015. However, up to date, there has never been a 1 point safety in the NFL. 

Does A 1-Point Safety Ever Happened?

The one-point safety is quite rare and has never happened in the NFL. However, there are a few reported cases in the National College Athletic Association (NCCA). It is quite rare to see events happening in such sequences to lead to a 1-point safety.

There are two reported incidents in the NCCA when the one-point safety did happen. Let’s look at them:

Texas scoring against Texas A&M in Nov 2004

The Texas Longhorns did score a one-point safety against the Texas A&M Aggies football team.

As shown in the video, it remains the rarest play in NCCA.

The Oregon scoring against the Kansas State

In 2014, the Oregon Ducks scored one point against Kansas State in the 2013 Fiesta Bowls.

In both games, the touchdown was blocked and recovered by the defenses. It ended with both defenses fumbling and throwing the ball into their end zones before being downed.

about to throw football

As seen in the video, it is a pretty rare ruling that left even the coaches surprised. 

As seen, the player starting on defense ends up as the player on the offense. Once he possesses the ball, he goes down in the opposite end zone intending to score.

Has an NFL Team Ever Scored 1 Point Safety?

A point safety is quite rare, and NO team in the NFL has ever scored. While there are two incidents of 1 point safety in the NCAA, it has NEVER happened in the NFL.

Since its inception in 1920, there has never been a one-point safety rule. Even with the rule change in 2015, a one-point safety is yet to be seen in the NFL. 

Isn’t Safety Also a Football Player Position?

Safety in football is also a player position in football. In the NFL, a safety is a defensive back. He usually lines 10 to 15 yards behind the scrimmage line. In football, there are types of safety, free safety, and strong safety.

These two positions vary depending on the specific scheme the defense is running. Defense safeties usually play a role in covering passes. In some instances, they can tackle plays that tend to breach the first line of defense.

In most teams, you’ll find safeties as the best tacklers. You’ll occasionally see them chase players on the breakaways. They are usually the last defenders on the field to beat on your way to scoring a touchdown.

What Is the Difference Between Safety & a Touchback?

A safety in football happens when the possessing team plays on the field and gets tackled in their end zone due to their backward movement. It is a common play that occurs when play is deep in their territory, about a yard or two.

You’ll see a quarterback taking a snap and going into the end zone to pass. However, before making a pass, he gets tackled, leading to a safety.

On the other hand, a touchdown occurs when there is a change of possession, and the ball has not gone past the end zone of the receiving team. In such cases, the receiving team decides to take a touchdown as a precaution. They receive the ball 10 yards and take 20 yards.

It can also occur when a defensive player recovers or intercepts a pass in their end zone. However, the player with the ball will not go beyond the end zone leading to a touchback.

As you can see, both plays occur when players get tackled in their end zone. However, the rules leading to the two scenarios are quite different.


Scoring a 1-point safety is quite rare in football but can happen. It remains a way that teams can add to their points tally. For most fans, players can only score one point through an extra point.

However, that’s not the case as you’ve seen. But still, a 1-point safety is quite difficult to convert and remains quite rare in football.

Do you have any questions on 1-point safety? It’s a pretty rare way to score and one you might not easily get to see.

A one-point safety had happened twice in the NCAA but NEVER in the NFL. However, it is a rule worth noting so that you don’t act surprised should it ever occur.

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