Believe it or not, there are actually multiple scenarios that result in one point scored in a football game. And no we are not talking about kicking an extra point. The only way to score a single point in a football game is off a one-point safety.
A one point safety is incredibly rare, so rare in fact that it has never happened in the nfl. And as far as we can tell has only occurred twice in college football.
How Do 1 Point Safeties Work?
As you likely already know a safety in football is traditionally worth two points. The reason one point safeties exist is only for the purpose of extra points and two-point conversions.
When attempting to score conversion the maximum number of points you can get is two. Therefore it doesn’t make sense for a safety to have the same value as a successful two-point conversion.
For this reason when attempting an extra point or two point conversion a safety is only worth one point.
At this point, you may be wondering how one can score a safety in these situations. To score safety as the defending team you need the offense to fumble or carry the ball all the way back into their endzone. At this point, if they are tackled or illegally bat the ball out of the back of the endzone it is a safety.
For the offensive team to score a safety they must either turn the ball over and tackle the opposing player in the endzone once he has crossed the goal line then re-entered the endzone. Alternatively, they could fumble the ball into the end zone and the opposing team would have to illegally bat the ball out of the end zone.
2015 Rule Change For 1 Point Safeties
Previously 1 point safeties were even more unlikely than they are now. Prior to 2015 when the defensive team got possession of the ball on a extra point or two point conversion the play would be blown dead.
This rule was changed to allow the defensive team a chance to return the ball to the other endzone. This would result in two points of their own. This is referred to as a “pick two”, a riff of the term “pick six” used for an interception returned for a touchdown.
This change also allowed for the offensive team to score a one-point safety. The scenario in which a defender re-enters the endzone after taking possession of the ball was only possible after this rule change.
This has not yet led to a one point safety in the NFL but it has made it more likely to happen.
Example 1 Point Safety In College
This is one of the only example of a one point safety occuring in college football. In this video the defending team blocks the extra point and recovers the ball. After recovering the ball the team runs backwards into their endzone.
They are ultimately tackled in the endzone resulting in a one point safety.