I learned about the conversion safety today, where an NCAA team attempting an extra point can get a one-point safety if the kick is blocked but the defending team takes the ball into the endzone and gets tackled.

I couldn't figure out if this is the case, but I was wondering if the defending team could score one point in the same way. Suppose the kicking team attempts the extra point, which is blocked and grabbed by the defense, and they run it back - but the player with the ball fumbles it close to the endzone, and a player from the kicking team recovers it but his momentum carries him into the endzone, where he is tackled. I realize this is a very implausible situation, but would this be a way that a team could theoretically finish with a score of 1?

  • 2
    Good question. There is some discussion of this in the comments to this answer.
    – Ben Miller
    Nov 25, 2013 at 3:13
  • 1
    Just to add a short answer to this question, yes, this is a way for a team to finish with one point.
    – Zack
    Nov 25, 2013 at 14:35

5 Answers 5


Yes, it is possible for a team to end the game with a score of 1 in the NCAA and in the NFL.

This could happen in the exact scenario that you mentioned in your question. On an extra point attempt, Team A (which already has 6 points for a touchdown) fumbles the ball (or has kick blocked). Team B recovers.* Team B has a chance to take the ball to the other end of the field. So Team B runs down the field, but fumbles before he gets to the end zone. Team A recovers, but gets tackled in the end zone, resulting in a 1 point safety for Team B.

I don't think this has ever happened, but I don't see why it couldn't.

* Before the 2015 NFL rule change, the ball would have been dead at this point, but now in the NFL the defense can take possession during a conversion attempt and try to score.

  • 1
    I wonder... In the NFL, if on a two-point conversion attempt, the quarterback gets chased (or possessed by evil) and runs backwards all the way to the other end, where he gets sacked in the end zone, would this be a 1 point safety for the defense? Is there any scenario where the refs would let this happen without blowing a whistle on the way down the field?
    – Ben Miller
    Dec 27, 2013 at 15:28
  • 3
    As of the 2015 season, the NFL rules have changed. The ball is no longer dead on change of possession during a conversion attempt, so a one-point safety for the kicking team is now possible. Jul 24, 2015 at 17:09
  • It's hard to imagine a one-point safety on the other end; the ordinary one-point safety example is so rare already: youtube.com/watch?v=jp4TeP4rw0s&t=7s Dec 21, 2017 at 22:29
  • @MichaelMyers I finally updated my answer. Thanks!
    – Ben Miller
    Nov 26, 2018 at 5:02
  • @MichaelMyers: Before the rule change, what would have happened in the scenario mentioned by Ben Miller's comment, if there were no change of possession? Would there be any league-tiebreaker scenarios where a team might do better in playoff standings if they win by 3 or 6 in overtime than if they win by 1 in regulation? Would it be unsportsmanlike for a team which had received a 1-point lead because of a touchdown to give up the lead to tie the game in hopes of a 3 or 6-point win in overtime?
    – supercat
    Aug 10, 2021 at 18:48

6-1 score Scenario. Extra point blocked and ran back towards the kickers endzone,runner fumbles ball at the offenses 1 yard line kicking team picks up ball and runs into there own endzone and gets tackled... wahlah 1 point!

  • This happened in the 80s in college football. I was a kid watching the game but for sure happened. I was enthralled because I watched a ton of football and never saw a 1 on the board.
    – Coach-D
    Nov 26, 2018 at 17:48

The one point safety on the Defense suggested in the previous response may only occur during an Extra Point try by the offense, it's result is the same as a successful extra point by the offense.

Basically what has to happen is a defensive player commits a safety in the end zone. It's more common in college football as PAT attempts can be returned for 2 points. It happened as recently as the 2013 Fiesta Bowl.

However, this does not allow for the 1-0 score you're seeking. The offense has already scored a touchdown so they have at least 6 points. The play in question ends in 7 total points for the offense.

This is incredibly rare in the NFL (hasn't happened since the '40s) because there is no incentive for the defense to try anything strange in the NFL, they just fall on the football and the play is over.

There is no method for the defending team to score a single point. And there is no way to only score a single point in american football

  • 1-0 score is impossible, but a team can finish with only one point in the way described by Ben Miller. Also, as of 2018, PAT's can now be returned for safeties in the NFL.
    – user16493
    Dec 16, 2018 at 18:29

There is no way for a team to score just 1 point in American Football (final score 1-0).

If an extra point it blocked and returned for a score it will result in 2 points for the returning team. This is also true if the kick is blocked and does not cross the line of scrimmage, the ball can be advanced by the kicking team for 2 points.

If it is a Field Goal attempt and the kick is blocked than the defending team can return it for a touchdown (6 points).

Note: If a field goal is attempted and partially block and the ball travels past the line of scrimmage it is treated like a punt and can only be recovered by the kicking team if the defending team touches the ball first. However, I do not believe that the kicking team can advance the ball once it is touched by the defending team.

EDIT: There is still no way for a team to end up with a final score of 1, however there is another way for a team to end up scoring 1 point other than the usual extra point.


Is a video of this occurring. The team can score 1 point after an extra point is blocked, caught outside of the end zone, returned backwards into the end zone, and downed. This results in 1 point for the kicking team. As it has to occur after a touchdown the team would therefore score a minimum total of 7 points for the game.


An NFL score can end up say 6 to 1 (but not 1 to 0). If the offense scores a touchdown (6 points) then kicks the extra point (a "try") and that kick is blocked, in the NFL (and I think at all levels of NCAA football and high school), the defense can try to pick up the blocked kick and return it for a score (technically called a defensive 2-point conversion). But if the defense fumbles that blocked return way downfield say at the one yardline (right before reaching the opposite endzone to score) and the ball us recovered again by the kicking team, but way back now at their own 1 yard line. Then the original kicking team (offense) tries to run the ball back again, but they somehow get tackled in their own endzone (ie a safety). That would be a 1-point safety for the defense. If the game ended that way, the final score would be 6 to 1. Note, the only way a 1-point safety can happen is on a try (extra point or 2-point conversion), thus a 1 to 0 final score is impossible, it must be at least 6 to 1. Very rare, but the strange defensive safety has happened before (more common now is the 2 point defensive conversion because of the tougher extra point tries and relaxed return rules. An NFL game was decided a couple-three years back on such a conversion play).

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