What Is A Safety In Football? Explained

By vIQtory

A safety in American Football is how the defense or special teams score points. This is not to be confused with the safety position, which is part of the defensive backs.

A safety in football is scored when the offense commits a foul in their end zone, fumbles the ball out of their end zone, or is tackled in their end zone. The result of safety is 2 points for the defensive team.

This article will show you what safety is in football and why they’re important in scoring.

What Is a Safety In Football?

According to the NFL rulebook, ” if the offense commits a foul in its end zone or; when an impetus by a team sends the ball behind its own goal line, and the ball is dead in the end zone in its possession, or the ball is out of bounds behind the goal line.”

A safety in American football is rare to see, but it can happen. When the ball goes through the offensive team’s end zone or when a player is tackled in their end zone, you will see the referee hold his hands above his head.

This type of scoring often occurs when the offense makes a mistake with their blocking schemes or football.

Safeties are rare in football but can happen if the offense isn’t careful with their play calling. They often occur when the offense is backed up to its own territory.

When the safety is awarded to the defense, they will be given two points.

How To Score A Safety

There’s an argument to be made about going for it or punting it when a team is driving into the other team’s territory. Many coaches will elect to punt the ball in hopes they can pin the other team deep into their territory.

This is beneficial because if they can down the punt inside of the opponent’s 5-yard line, there’s a good chance they will be able to get a safety.

There are two ways that a defense can score a safety.

The first way is to tackle the person in the end zone or push a player out of the end zone.

Once an offensive player enters the endzone with the football, they must get the entire football out of the end zone to not be a safety. If the player is tackled with 1/2 of the football in the end zone, it will be a safety.

This is the most common type of safety. When the defense has the offense pinned inside their territory, the defense will be super aggressive in trying to score a safety.

Safety in football
Safety In Football

This is why offenses will try to throw the ball deep on early downs, hoping to get out of their zone.

The second type of safety occurs when the ball is fumbled out of the end zone. This is common on special teams.

For example, they have to punt if a team has the ball on their 1-yard line. Due to the shortened field, the punter will have a short distance from the long snapper.

It’s common for a long snapper to either snap the ball low or snap the ball over the punter’s head.

If the ball is snapped out of the end zone, the call will result in a safety. If the ball, at any point, goes out of the offense’s end zone, it will be ruled a safety.

When safety is called, the referee will put his hands in the air like this. This means that there is a safety on the play, and the ball will go back to the other team, along with 2 points on the scoreboard.

Safety Kick

Once a safety is awarded to the defense for getting tackled or fumbling the ball out of their end zone, the defense will be awarded 2 points. They also will be awarded possession.

This means that the offense will need to kick or punt the football to the opposing team. Safeties can affect an offense because they let up 2 points to the opposing team, and then they have to give the ball back to the opposing team.

Teams may choose whichever they want to do, kick or punt the football once they give up a safety.

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Why Teams Punt After A Safety In Their Own End Zone

When a safety is awarded to the defense, and the offense needs to kick off, it’s common to see the kicker holding the ball ready to punt.

Teams may choose to punt the football, as it’s easier to cover, giving the kicking team more options.

For example, punting the ball is more comfortable to kick in the air. Often teams will elect to kick the ball as high as possible in hopes their team can get downfield and cover the football.

The punt goes higher and sometimes farther than a traditional kick. This allows the kicking team to make a tackle sooner down the field.

Punting the football helps teams kick the ball onside to any player in hopes of recovering the ball. This gives the kicking team more flexibility to punt or onside kick the football.

Keep Learning

Although extremely rare, there is such a thing as a one point safety, which you can read here about.

If you liked learning about the safety in football, don’t stop there! Join our Ultimate Football Guide to increase your football IQ.

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Scoring a safety in football awards the defense 2 points. Safeties are rare in football but can happen if an offense is backed up in their zone.

When an offense is backed up into their territory, it’s common to see them throw the ball deep to get out of their zone or run QB sneak out of their zone.

It’s common for the defense to see them blitz and be aggressive when the offense is inside their 5-yard line.

Let’s keep learning! Our learning center is packed with information regarding techniques, schemes, and more!

If you’re looking for more in-depth breakdowns & coaching resources, visit our coaching resource page here.

About the author

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports. Chris has coached football for 12+ years and continues to coach at the high school level. He continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about this wonderful game of football.