What Is A One Possession Game In Football?

Have you ever been watching sports and heard the announcer use the term “one-possession game”? This piece of terminology is a helpful way to keep up with the score yet many sports fans do not know what it means.

A one-possession game is a game in which the trailing team can tie the game or take the lead with a single score. In football, this means the lead in the game is eight points or less.

Why Is A One Possession Game Eight Points

The reason that a one-possession game is eight points is because that is the maximum amount of points a team can earn in a single possession.

Many fans new to the game of football know that touchdowns are usually worth seven points which makes this definition confusing.

The reason it is eight points is that teams are able to score a two-point conversion after the touchdown. When a team scores a touchdown they will earn themselves six points. They then must decide if they want to go for a one-point or two-point conversion.

Typically teams will go for the one-point conversion as that is easier to convert. But if a team is behind by eight points and looking to tie the game they will go for the two-point.

This is why an eight-point lead is a one-possession game in football.

What Is A Two Possession Game?

A two possession football game is game in which the trailing team can tie the game or take the lead with two scores. In other words, a two-possession game is one in which the team is leading by nine to sixteen points.

If a team is leading by less than nine points then it is going to be a one-possession game. If the team is leading by more than sixteen points it will become a three-possession game.

The maximum lead for a two-score game is sixteen because the most points you can score in a single score game is eight. Meaning two maximum scoring drives will result in sixteen points scored.

What Is The Importance Of One Possession Games?

The reason one-possession games are so important is that coaches know they can win or tie the game with a single score.

Coaches will need to make several score-based decisions throughout a game regarding how many points they are going to go for in order to make it a one-possession game for their final possession.

For example, say a team is down twelve points late in a game. At this point, it is a two-possession game. If the team has a fourth down near the goal line the coach will have a decision to make.

If they kick the field goal that will give them three points and cut the lead from twelve to nine or they could go for a touchdown and cut the lead to five. A nine-point deficit would mean it they would still have to score twice.

For this reason, a coach would usually go for the fourth down in an attempt to score a touchdown. If a touchdown is scored the game will become a one-possession game.

When making a comeback like this a team will prioritize lowering the number of possessions needed to tie up the score.

Keeping track of how many scoring drives you are from tieing the game will allow the coaching staff to make educated decisions when engineering a comeback.

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