If you have been around the game of football for a long time you have likely heard of the term pick-six, but many fans are not familiar with a kick six.
A kick six in football refers to a failed field goal attempt that is then returned by the defense for a touchdown.
If you haven’t seen a kick six in a football game before you are probably wondering how this happens.
A play like this is only possible when a kicker does not get enough leg on his kick and it ultimately falls short of the uprights. If the kick misses left or right but had the distance the ball will land out of bounds and the defense will not be able to return it.
But if the kick falls short the defense will have a single-player waiting deep in the endzone for a chance to return it.
The defensive player must then return the ball all the way from his own endzone all the way to the opposing team’s endzone for the kick six.
Since a kick needs to come up short for a return to happen, these plays rarely happen. In most cases, all defensive players are going to stand near the line of scrimmage on a field goal attempt instead of having one player waiting in the endzone.
A player is only moved back into the endzone for a return if the field goal being attempted is a long one. This makes these returns even more unlikely as teams will not have a player ready to return the ball on the vast majority of field goal attempts.
When Did Kick Sixes Happen In Football
As we stated earlier these plays are incredibly rare and only happen once or twice an entire football season. There are only two scenarios in which kick sixes are likely to happen and that is at the end of the first half, or during a game-winning field goal attempt.
End Of The First Half
The end of the first half is one of the two situations that lead to missed field goal touchdown returns.
These plays will happen as the final play of the half. If a team is running a two minute drill they are going to try their best to get their team into field goal range before time expires.
As time ticks down until the final play teams are often further away than the kickers normal kicking distance. Since a field goal is still more likely than a hail mary teams will often choose to go for a long field goal attempt.
If they miss their attempt there is no issue as the half will be over and the team won’t have to worry about the other team’s field possession.
But since the defense knows this is the final play of the half they may as well place a defender deep in the endzone for the chance of a return.
If the kick comes up short and the returner is able to find a hole then the defense is able to secure themselves a kick six.
Last Second Game Winning Field Goal Attempt
One of the most dramatic plays in football is a missed game-winning field goal that results in a kick six. The most famous example being the 2013 Iron bowl.
Again, in order for a game-winning field goal to present the chance for returning a missed field goal it needs to be from a long distance.
In these situations, the offense has to try and attempt the kick because it is their only chance to end the game as opposed to going to overtime.
This same reasoning stands for the defense, their only chance to win the game is by returning the kick for a touchdown. For this reason, a defender will be placed deep in the end zone.
If the kick comes up short the defense will have a chance for a return and as you can see in the video above it can make for some incredible moments.