Touchback Vs Safety What Is The Difference

If you are new to football you may be wondering what the difference is between a touchback vs safety. After all, both plays occur when a ball or player is downed inside the endzone.

Luckily the rules regarding these two plays are fairly straightforward and will be explained in detail throughout this article.

Understanding Safeties

A safety in football not to be confused with the safety position occurs after the following actions.

  • The ball carrier is downed or the ball travels through the back of their own endzone
  • The ball was previously possessed the ball outside of the endzone

Both of these criteria need to take place in order for a safety to be called.

Examples of a safety:

A quarterback snaps the ball from his own one-yard line. He hands the ball off to the running back who is then tackled in the endzone.

Result: safety

The offense starts with the ball at their own two-yard line. The center snaps the ball too high launching over the quarterbacks head. The ball travels through the back of the endzone.

Result: safety

As you can see in both these situations. The ball or ball carrier is downed in the team’s own endzone. And the play started outside the endzone meaning the ball was possessed outside of the endzone at some point during the play.

Outcome Of A Safety

When a safety does occur it can be quite devastating for the offensive team. First off the defense will be awarded two points, secondly, the offense has to give up possession of the ball.

To give possession to the other team the offense must perform a free-kick. This kick is done from the team’s twenty-yard line and can be punted, drop kicked, or place kicked.

Understanding Touchbacks

A touchback in football occurs when one team is receiving possession of the ball from the other. A touchback occurs after the following events.

  • The ball carrier is downed in their own endzone without possessing the ball outside of it
  • Or the ball rolls out of bounds in the receiving team’s endzone without them possessing the ball.

These two events present two different situations n which a touchback would arise.

Examples Of A Touchback

A player catches a kickoff in their own endzone and is downed before leaving the endzone.

Result: touchback

A punt lands in the endzone the receiving player elects not to catch it and it travels out the back of the endzone.

Result: touchback

These two examples illustrate the two main causes of a touchback. Either a player will be downed or elect to give themselves up in the endzone for a touchback. Or the ball will travel outside the endzone resulting in a touchback.

Outcome Of A Touchback

The outcome of a touchback vs safety are quite different. When a touchback occurs no points are awarded to either side. Instead, the team with possession of the ball in their end zone will simply start their next drive at the twenty yard line.

Concluding Touchback vs Safety

We hope that this guide to touchbacks vs safeties has taught you everything you needed to know. Remember a safety occurs when a team possesses the ball outside their own endzone travels back into it and are downed.

While a touchback occurs when the team receives possession of the ball in their endzone and are tackled or the ball travels through their endzone without them possessing it.

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