pick 6 football

What Is a Pick 6 in Football? The Ultimate Guide [2022]

If you’re a football fan, then you’ve probably heard the term pick 6 football. With football formations and the style of play changing, you need to understand the game more. Teams now pass the ball more as opposed to running the field more.

So, what is a pick 6 in football? A pick 6 in football is a term that describes the defense intercepting and scoring a touchdown on the same play. The touchdown scores 6 points, hence the name a pick 6.

In a pick 6, the defense changes roles and becomes the offense upon intercepting the ball. Pick 6 in football are rare. However, when they happen, they can change games. 

Keep reading below to learn more about pick 6 in football.

What Does Pick 6 Mean in Football?

A pick 6 in football means the defense has returned an interception and scored a touchdown. It is an occurrence where the defense intercepts the ball and becomes the offense due to the change of play.

The athlete in football that intercepted the ball then has the chance to run and score a touchdown. A touchdown score always gives six points. This is why a pick that leads to a touchdown is called a pick-six.

However, a pick-six is quite rare, and there is a lot that goes on before a pick six can happen. 

How Did the Term Pick Six Develop?

American football uses many slang terms to refer to different plays. If you’re an ardent fan, you might know some terms.

football players on game

The pick six-term comes from two terms. It develops from ‘pick’ and ‘six’. Pick is a slang term for an interception while six stands for the number of points a team scores after a touchdown from the interception.

A touchdown score from a pick gives the same points as a normal play touchdown.

For a pick 6 to occur, two things must happen an interception and a touchdown. So the term did develop from an interception (pick) and a touchdown (6) points.

Some may wonder why they are not called pick 7 since some touchdowns can score 7 points with extra points. Well, that’s not the case since a touchdown is only 6 points. The extra points come after an additional point.

Why Is It Called a Pick?

It is called a pick since the players are picking (intercepting) the ball. The interception is what is called a pick. You can think of it as defenders picking the ball from the opposition half and advancing to score.

How To Get a Pick 6

Football teams get a pick-six often when they throw the ball. The game has changed from the old days when players would run a lot. Nowadays, players can throw a ball 30-40 times in a single game.

From the NFL to college football, teams tend to throw the ball downfield more often. So, what happens when they throw the balls?

Three things can happen when teams throw the ball. First, the ball goes to completion reaching the intended person. This is a good result for the offense.

The next result is when the throw is an incomplete pass. When the offense misses a catch, it throws the quarterbacks off rhythm.

In most cases, they end up kicking a punt. The defense should always aim to force an incomplete pass.

Lastly, a throw can be intercepted by the defense of the opposing team. Defensive players can catch the ball off quarterbacks leading to a pick 6.

As soon as the defensive players catch the ball, they will try and score a touchdown. This leads to a pick 6 in football. 

How Does a Pick Six Affect the Game?

A pick-six in football can change the momentum of the game. Whether a team is losing or winning, getting a pick 6 can give you control of the game and add to your point tally.

running american football player

It’s more like flipping the momentum since the offense was attacking. 

Your team will turn from defense to attack in a matter of seconds with a chance to get a touchdown score. While a pick six scores you 6 points like any other touchdown, it’s the manner it happens.

There is psychology involved with a pick six. Remember the offense was passing the ball to get a touchdown.

A pick six does feel like a dagger being thrust down your chest as the game changes unexpectedly. The offense goes from a scoring chance to conceding six points.

It’s a change in play that rattles the offense and can have them playing with worry. The defense can enjoy a lot from the fear they instill in the offense.

The offense will be too careful whenever they think of making a throw. They will always fear another pick six and this ends up affecting their play.

It’s never good when quarterbacks doubt their decisions. These doubts are only possible after suffering a pick six. You’ll find coaches looking for quarterbacks with great personalities to bounce back after a pick-six.

So, in a way, a pick-six does much more damage than getting you six points. It can demoralize your opponents and give you a better chance of winning the game.

Who Gets Rewarded a Pick 6?

Both the offense and the defense get rewarded a pick 6. The defender gets rewarded an interception touchdown while the offense gets a pick 6 as the reward.

While both terms mean the same thing, they are used to distinguish the different sides of the ball. 

When you look at the defensive sides of teams, safeties and cornerbacks are more likely to get a pick 6. This is called an interception return touchdown. These two positions are known as defensive backs. They earn teams the most pick six.

Pick six touchdowns are not pretty common. In the 2019 season, there were a total of 39 interception return touchdowns.

Further stats reveal that 27 of the touchdowns came from safeties or cornerbacks. The remaining 5 came from the linebackers and 2 from the defensive end.

To get a clear understanding of how difficult pick six touchdowns are, only 3 players had more than one interception touchdown in the 2019 season.

How To Increase the Odds of Receiving a Pick 6

You already know how difficult it is for defensive players to get a pick 6. However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of receiving a pick six.

Let’s have a closer look at the six major things that you will need to work on to get better at getting a pick six.

  • Hands – Good hands are needed if you’re going to make a good interception.
  • IQ – Players that intercept the ball need a good defensive IQ. You need to read plays to be in a position to intercept.
  • Vision: You need excellent ball vision to weave your way through defenses and score a pick six touchdown. Good vision allows you to run to the end zone without being held down.
player signaling teammate
  • Blocking: Teammates need to provide excellent blocking once the ball is intercepted. They need to protect the player that intercepted the ball so that he can run and score a touchdown.
  • Speed: Speed will allow you to run and make a touchdown without being tackled.
  • Break tackles: To get to the end zone with the ball and make a touchdown, you need to know how to break a tackle.

What Is the Difference Between a Pick Six and an Interception?

All pick sixes are interceptions. However, they only become a pick six after the player with the interception manages to make a touchdown.

So, not all interceptions lead to a pick six. An interception must be returned for a touchdown to count as a pick six.

Who Are the Football Players With the Most Pick Sixes in NFL History

Pick sixes in the NFL are not easy, and few players have a good number of them. Below is a list of football players with the most pick sixes in NFL history.

  1. Rod Woodson – 12
  2. Charles Woodson – 11
  3. Darren Sharper – 11
  4. Aqib Talib – 10
  5. Deion Sanders – 9
  6. Ken Houston – 9
  7. Aeneas Williams – 9
  8. Charles Tillman – 8
  9. Ronde Barber – 8
  10. Eric Allen – 8

These are pick sixes they have accumulated throughout their playing careers. As you can see, it’s pretty difficult to get a pick six with most players in the list getting an average of one in a season. 

NFL football

When Did the Term Pick 6 Start?

The term pick 6 started in early 2000 from broadcasters that referred to a short form of a pick and a touchdown of six points. A pick is a slang term for an interception.

What Is a Pick Two?

A pick two in football is an interception that occurs on an extra-point attempt as opposed to one when play is in the line of scrimmage.

What Is a “Pick in Football?

A pick in football is an interception that leads to a return touchdown. It’s a reference to “picking” a pass from a quarterback and returning to score 6 points.


Well, that’s it from me! A pick six occurs when the defense intercepts a throw and ends up scoring a touchdown.

It is not a common occurrence, but once it occurs, a pick six can change the game momentum. Apart from scoring your team six points, a pick six can end the opposing team’s morale and help you win the game.

Safeties and cornerbacks get more pick six in football than any other position. If you’re looking to increase your chances of a pick six, then you need good vision, speed, catching hands, and good team blocking and break tackling skills.

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