I know this scenario is extremely unlikely and will probably never occur, bit I am still curious. Say, overtime starts and Team A receives the ball first. They end up kicking a field goal and the ball goes to Team B. Team B then throws an interception to Team A. For whatever reason, on the interception return, the returner gets tackled in the end zone for a safety. What would then happen after that? Would Team B get another possession?

  • Does Team A carry the ball out of the end zone, then return it? If a player from Team A catches an interception in the end zone, and is tackled without the ball being advanced outside of the end zone, my understanding that that is a touchback. Feb 22, 2020 at 8:12

1 Answer 1


Team A would win the game in this scenario by one point. The safety counts but the game is over because Team B had a full possession.

The NFL rulebook states:

If the second team loses possession by an interception or fumble, the down will be permitted to run to its conclusion, but if the second team’s possession has legally ended with the fumble recovery or interception, any subsequent action will not affect the outcome of the game. (If the change of possession occurs in the second team’s end zone, the score counts.)

  • Yes this isn't hard and it is a possession. The more abstract question is what if a team botches a kickoff that results in a safety without ever possessing the kickoff. I am sure the game is over on this but the wording isn't clear. (example return man tries to catch ball at 3 yard line, hits his helmet and ricochets out of bounds in the end zone - game over?)
    – Coach-D
    Dec 12, 2019 at 16:26
  • The official terminology is "opportunity to possess" - so the game will end even if the kicking team recovers an onside kick without the losing team actually touching the ball. google.com/amp/s/amp.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d827ee2c0/…
    – skippy619
    Dec 12, 2019 at 18:26

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