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How Many Points Is A Touchdown?

Were you ever curious about how many points is a touchdown? A “touchdown” in American Football is worth 6 points. It is when a player has legal possession of a ball and passes through the imaginary vertical plane above the opposing team’s goal line. 

Key Takeaways

  • A touchdown is worth 6 points.
  • After the touchdown, the offensive team can perform a play for an extra of either one or two points. This “try after the touchdown” is either called an extra point attempt (PAT) or a two-point conversion.

Touchdown History

Here’s a brief history of how the idea of giving 6 points to a team after a successful touchdown came up. 

When the first set of football rules was created in the late 1800s, players can only score by kicking the ball between the goalposts. As the rules developed to make the game more interesting, touchdowns and safeties were given scores. Nevertheless, the touchdown was only two points during that time.

In 1909, the touchdown was only worth 5 points. But during the year 1912, it increased from 5 points to 6 points. The rationale behind this is still unclear as there seems to be a lot of ongoing debate about it. Still, countries like Canada did not accept these changes in rules wherein their touchdown remained at only 5 points until they fully adopted the new set of rules in 1956.

How To Get A Touchdown

More than that, one must be able to know and understand how to get a “touchdown”. There are several ways how to do it and it is as follows: 

  1. A player will score a touchdown if he has clear possession of the ball which is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line.
  2. An airborne runner has clear possession of the ball which is on, above, or behind the plane of the goal line, or at least some part of the ball was able to pass through the “pylon”. For a better understanding, a pylon is a small orange marker placed at each of the corners of the end zone of the football field
  3. A player who has clear possession of the ball touches the pylon considering that after being in contact with an opponent, only the player’s hands or feet were the only parts of his body struck on the ground before the ball touched the pylon. 
  4. Any legal player who inbounds catches or recovers a loose ball that is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line. 
  5. And lastly, a match official may decide to reward a touchdown to a team that has been denied one by a noticeably unfair act. 

Why A Touchdown Can Worth 7 Points

Although it was mentioned that a touchdown is worth 6 points, there’s this thing called “Extra Point” a.k.a. Point-After-Touchdown (PAT), which allows the team to have a chance to get an extra point by means of kicking the ball through the goal posts after a successful touchdown. [1]

In 2014, PAT was so automatic. In terms of statistical records, it has a success rate of 99.3% during that particular year. Teams are using this strategy very well in order for them to gain an extra point and an advantage as well against their opposing team. 

Nevertheless, if the scoring team misses the chance to score an extra point, they only gain 6 points for the touchdown. In case of a botched snap or a block extra point, and the defensive players recover the ball, they can return the ball the opposite way and gain 2 points.

Minkah Fitzpatrick BLOCKS Game WINNING Extra Point to go to OVERTIME (Copyright: NFL)

What Happens After A Successful Touchdown 

To understand it more clearly, we’ll try to analyze more what will happen after a successful touchdown. Again, the same as mentioned above, a team will have a chance to gain an extra point. It could be a one-point conversion or a two points conversion (which is a strategy that is rarely used). 

To gain an added point, a player of the team who had a successful touchdown must kick the ball from the 15-yard line and it must pass through or in between the goal posts. In terms of the “two points conversion,” the ball is placed on the two-yard line and the offensive team must get the ball across the goal line by scoring a touchdown. 

The offensive team only gets one chance to get the ball across the goal line for a successful conversion. Unless for some reason that the defensive team will commit a penalty. That is mainly one of the obvious reasons why teams are considering using the one-point conversion more often rather than the two-point conversion

Afterward, whether the “try” is successful or not, a “kickoff” will take place in which the previous offensive team will kick the ball to the opposing team from the 35-yard line, and a “change of possession” will occur and the game will be continued. 

Who Has The Most Touchdowns?

The thing is, all things that were mentioned above are easier said than done. In NFL history, Jerry Rice had the most touchdowns, scoring 208 TD in 20 seasons.[2] That’s an average of 10.4 touchdowns per season and a 0.65 touchdown per game. If you think that it is low or below average, think twice. Again, numerical figures are considered the “most” in the “Pro-League” in the United States.

Among active professional players, Larry Fitzgerald has the most touchdowns, scoring 120 in total after his 16th season in the league. Many say that he’ll not be able to surpass Jerry Rice as an all-time great in scoring a touchdown. Still, his numbers are effective in helping his team capture the victory every time they play. 

Final Words 

Football is definitely a physical game to play. But more than that, having a good IQ level in playing the game and being able to communicate and coordinate with your team is a skill set one must possess. 

Do you think that proper knowledge of the game is necessary to be able to be part of the NFL? Let us know what you think!


1. “What is Point After Touchdown – PAT? Definition from ….” 28 Jan. 2012, Accessed 28 Jul. 2020.
2. “TDIF: Jerry Rice Breaks Career-TD Record | They Call It Pro ….” 5 Sep. 2012, Accessed 28 Jul. 2020.

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