Hat trick is commonly used in association football and hockey when a player scores three goals in a match or game.

Given that association football and American football have similar roots, I would think American football would also use this. Quarterbacks throw for three scores in a game as routinely (if not more than) as footballers or hockey players, but I've never heard a reference to achieving a hat trick.

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I'm not sure where you get the idea that American football has meaningful links to association football (American soccer). It shares a name, sure, but otherwise it is much closer to Rugby (Union/League) Football - both in its rules and in its historical roots.

However, I suspect the issue at hand is primarily that it's hard to define what would be called a "hat trick". Quarterbacks frequently throw three touchdowns in a game; so that's out due to its frequency. Hat tricks, in most sports, are difficult to achieve; for example, only 56 hat tricks have been achieved in Rugby World Cup history. In comparison, 179 QBs have thrown for 5 touchdowns or more in a single game, and over three thousand have thrown three.

As for other feats - it's hard to say why a phrase didn't catch on, but I suspect because there are simply too many things going on in one game. I've certainly heard the phrase use in its common meaning - "three of anything happening" - to refer to sacks and interceptions; it's probably been used in other circumstances as well. This is similar to other American sports; baseball often uses it to mean three strikeouts in one game, which is pretty silly (as that's not a good stat, and it's a very common one) and to mean three home runs in one game (which at least makes more sense), but even three steals in one game might be called a hat trick.

But in American football, what else are you going to call a hat trick other than passing touchdowns? Receiving touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, picks, sacks, made FGs... the number of things that it could be attached to is too large, likely, for it to have been attached to just one thing. The sports that it has become commonplace in are primarily sports with one major action - goal scoring - that is fairly infrequent. Cricket is to some extent the exception - and that's because it is the origin of the term, likely.

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    Your rugby example is a) for union rather than league, and b) just about the World Cup, which is played only every four years. Hat tricks are pretty common in professional rugby, either union or league.
    – Philip Kendall
    Feb 8, 2016 at 18:46
  • As a historical note, American football is more derived from union rather than league; American football was certainly a recognisably separate sport from rugby (union) by 1880, while league didn't come into existence until the formation of the Northern Union in 1895, and league didn't introduce the limited tackle count until 1966.
    – Philip Kendall
    Feb 8, 2016 at 19:07
  • Hmm, the link I followed to get to that link said it was League, but I don't know enough about Rugby to realize it was in error. Thanks for the corrections.
    – Joe
    Feb 8, 2016 at 19:09
  • Where do I get the idea that American football has meaningful links to association football...I don't have any links or specific sources, but my understanding was that both were derived from a rugby-type game. Or at least soccer & rugby were the prevailing sports, while late 19th-century Americans altered the play and rules to begin what is now American football. Apologies if I understand incorrectly.
    – Trevor D
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:41
  • American football derived from Rugby football in the mid-1800s. Association football comes much much earlier, and probably has some links to Rugby (I'm not familiar enough to say) but really nothing with American football.
    – Joe
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:53

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