What is a takeaway in football?

A takeaway in football refers to a play in which a turnover results in the possession of the football switching between teams. Takeaways include fumbles and interceptions but does not include turnover on downs or punts.

Takeaways in football only includes plays in which the possession changes due to an interception or fumble. These are not exclusive to the offense being on the field. A fumble on a kick return or punt return would still be considered a takeaway.


Interceptions are one of two ways in which a team can earn a takeaway. An interception in football occurs when the defense is able to catch a forward pass from the quarterback before it touches the ground.

Interceptions are typically earned by cornerbacks and safeties as they tend to play the largest role in pass defense.


Fumbles are the other way in which a team can generate a takeaway in football. In football, there are two separate ways fumbles can be generated.

They can be generated when a defensive player hits a ball carrier and causes him to lose possession of the ball before he is downed. If the defense is able to recover the ball then they have earned a takeaway.

Fumbles also occur when a team drops a lateral pass or bobbles a snap. In these situations, the football is considered a live ball meaning that either can get possession of it if they are able to pick it up.

More often than not fumbles are generated from stripping the ball from an opponent as opposed to them fumbling a lateral or snap.

What is not a takeaway in football?

Now that you understand what a takeaway is you may have a few more questions. Plays like turnover on downs and blocked punts are two examples of plays that many believe to be takeaways.

Turnover on downs

One of the plays that many fans believe to be a turnover or takeaway is a turnover on downs. A turnover on downs in football happens when a team attempts to reach the first-down marker on fourth down and fails.

When this happens the opposing team will receive possession of the ball at the location in which the final play ended.

Despite the ball changing possession from one team to another a turnover on downs is not considered a takeaway in football.

Blocked Punt

One play that many fans would assume is a takeaway is a blocked punt. On a blocked punt the punt return team is able to get their hands in front of the punter in order to stop his punt.

This results in a live ball in the backfield. Even if the offense is able to pick up this loose ball it is still not considered a takeaway in football.

The best reasoning that we can come up with for why this play isn’t a takeaway is that the offense was planning to on a change of possession of the ball either way.

When a team elects to punt the football they are planning to give possession to the other team regardless of what happens on the play.

Blocking the punt is going to improve your field position or even result in a touchdown but it is not going to be the reason that your team has gained possession of the football.

That is all on takeaways in sports learn more about turnovers in american football via our guide.

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