Safety (point gain)

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A safety (safety touch in Canadian football ) is a point gain of two points by the defense in American football and Canadian football.

The defending team achieves a safety if:

  • it stops the ball carrier of the attacking team ( offense ) in its own end zone or it leaves the end zone via the touchline or end line. This does not apply if he only catches the ball in the end zone on kick-off ( touchback ),
  • the ball rolls out of the field of play after a fumble from the end zone or is captured by the ball carrier of the attacking team in its own end zone, but is not carried out again, or
  • Various field penalties are issued against the attacking team within the end zone of the attacking team.

If a team catches an interception in its own end zone and the catcher is still tackled in the end zone , this is a touchback and not a safety.

In the National Football League , since the 1979 season, a fumble, which is conquered after the two-minute warning by an offense player who was not the fumble player, ends the game ( Holy Roller Rule ). If this happens in one's own end zone, this is also a safety, even if the player is not tackled and was able to run out of the end zone into the field of play .

After the safety, the game is continued with a free kick , which was scored by the team against which the points were scored, from their own 20-yard line. The ball can be brought into play with a punt , a place kick (as with a kickoff , but without the support of a kicking tee ) or a drop kick .

Differentiation from touchback

Safety is often confused with what is known as touchback , in which the defending team gains possession of the ball within its own end zone and does not leave the end zone. In doing so, she retains the right to attack and starts the new attack series ( drive ) on her own 20-yard line.

If no safety is to blame for a foul, the following applies: Whether a play is counted as safety or touchback depends on which team is responsible for the ball getting into its end zone. If it is herself, then it is a safety, if it is the opposing team, then it is a touchback.

Examples of safetys: Your own center snaps backwards to the quarterback, but the snap is too high and flies backwards further into the end; Another example: The punter has to punt from his own end zone, the kick is blocked by the opponent and secured by a team member of the punter in the end zone.

Example for touchbacks: The opposing punter kicks the ball very far so that it flies into the end; Another example: The opposing quarterback throws a long pass, which is intercepted by the cornerback in the end zone.

Safety is indicated by the referee by holding palms together above his head.

One point safety

In the case of a conversion after a touchdown, in rare cases a safety is achieved with only one point, see One Point Safety .

Intentional safety

Since the opponent scores on safety, you try to avoid it. But there's situations where an intentional Safety ( English intentional safety ) may be useful.

  • When you are close to your own end zone and lead with more than two points. A deliberate safety brings the opponent "only" two points instead of risking a touchdown (six points) or a field goal (three points) with a risky move . In addition, it is advantageous to be able to kick the following freekick from the 20-yard line without opposing pressure.
  • If you are close to your own end zone, have already used three downs and fear that your own punt might be blocked or not go far enough. It is speculated that the free kick from the 20-yard line after the safety brings a good starting position. Your own defense must then quickly stop the opposing offense.
    • In 2003, the New England Patriots took a deliberate safety just before the end, one point behind the Denver Broncos . They lost two points, but stopped the Broncos' next series of attacks and won with a late touchdown.

In Canadian football, in contrast to American football, deliberate safeties are seen more often. The reason is that, on average, giving up a safe and then free kick gives the opponent fewer points than if you simply popped the ball.

Individual evidence

  1. Rodger Sherman: The safety that sealed the Bills' win over the Packers was because of the Holy Roller rule. December 14, 2014, accessed October 27, 2015 .
  2. ^ NFL Rules Digest: Kickoff. In: National Football League (NFL), accessed on February 7, 2014 (English): "On a safety kick, the team scored upon puts ball in play by a punt, dropkick, or placekick without tee."
  3. Belichick's gamble pays off for Patriots ,
  4. Why do they give up so many safeties? Global News, accessed June 30, 2018 .