American Football Scoring Guide

American Football Scoring Guide

Ultimately the outcome of a game is decided on the basis of points secured by the respective teams. So today we will look into the American Football Scoring Guide. This guide will include the points allotted to each scoring play and how to successfully execute a scoring play. 

Football is literally worshiped in the United States. Though it is a world-level sport its popularity in the USA is just exceptional. The National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are the two most crowd-pleasing leagues in the United States, with the NFL being the larger and the more popular sporting league in the United States, out of the two.

Today we’ll look to explore some technical aspects of the game related to scoring.

How is the game played?

The game is played between two teams (the offense and the defense team). Though on paper a team is made up of 45 members in total, only 11 players from each team play on the field, at a time. The rest are meant for different purposes, that we’ll discuss later on. The game is played for a duration of 60 minutes. The time is divided into four quarters and two halves where each quarter consists of 15 minutes and each half consists of 30 minutes. Halftime is a twelve-minutes break time between the 2nd and the 3rd quarters. There is also a two-minute break between the 1st and the 2nd quarter as well as the 3rd and the 4th quarters.

The game is played on a 100 yards long rectangular field that has goalposts at its ends. The offense team, which has the ball, makes attempts to jog with the ball into the defense team’s end zone, without being clogged by the other team. The offensive players either try to run as long as they can or they pass the ball to a teammate who is sited nearest to the end zone. Now the defense team, the one without the ball, makes attempts to stop the offense team from reaching the end zone and tries to take control of the ball for themselves. The points can be scored either by scoring a touchdown or by scoring a field goal. 

What are the object of the game and the motive of players?

Scoring more points than the opponents is the sole motive of the players and is the very object of the game. This must be done within the allotted time. Each player tries his best to prove himself better than his opponents on the field. The team that scores more points by the end of the game, wins.  

Having said that scoring is the primary objective, we at no point meant to devalue the importance of the defense. They at the same time look to stop the offensive line of the other team to score. 

What is meant by downs?

A down is a very crucial part of the game. On the whole, it is a play. Four downs are given to the offense team to progress ten yards towards the defense team’s end zone. So at maximum, the offensive team is allowed to have four downs.  If the offense team succeeds in doing so within the allotted time, a new set of downs is given to them, this is known as getting a first down. But if they fail in doing so, they lose control of the ball to the other team. And the same rule applies to the other team. 

What are the ways to score in the game?

  • For each successful touchdown, the attacking team gets 6 points. 
  • A field goal is worth 3 points
  • Safety will bring you 2 points. 
  • And finally, as the name suggests, an extra point will give you 1 point, while a Two-point conversion gets you 2 points.    

Scoring plays explained


A touchdown yields 6 points to the scoring team. Many beginners may think that the ball should touch the ground so as to score 6 points because of its name, however, no, the ball does not genuinely contact the ground! 

There are two approaches of scoring a touchdown:

  •  (i) By jogging with the ball into the end zone, this is called a rushing touchdown.
  •  (ii) By receiving the ball from a successful pass. In this case, the quarterback throws a touchdown pass to the receiver, who either receives the ball and jogs with it into the end zone or catches the ball while already being in the end zone.

The result is a touchdown reception or a touchdown catch. There also exists scope for the defense team to score a touchdown if they have retrieved a fumble or made an interception and manage to make it to the opposing team’s end zone. American Football is a sport where matches are decided even on 1 point, so you can imagine the impact of 6 points on a game.

Field Goal

3 points are what a field goal renders to the scoring team. Commonly a field goal is executed on fourth down. The scenario when the kicker is near the end zone and is about to kick the ball through. The team which is looking to score a field goal must either place a kick, or drop-kick, the ball past the goal.
Field goals come in handy when the team is finding it difficult to execute a touchdown and is looking for some points in its kitty. 


Safety is a scoring play that is worth 2 points. It can be implemented in many ways, like when the player in possession of the ball gets clogged in his own (his team’s) end zone, or when the offense commits a foul in their own end zone. Soon after the safety is scored, the ball is kicked off to the team who has scored the safety from the twenty-yard line. 

Try Plays

  • Extra Point: Extra point or PAT is followed by a touchdown. It is an attempt to score a one-point field goal from the opposite team’s two-yard line. If the kick makes it through the uprights, the scoring team gets one point.
  • Two-Point Conversion: A two-point conversion is a scoring play that is worth 2 points and is attempted by a team after it has scored a touchdown in place of kicking a one-point conversion. So in order to avail the opportunity to have a try at a Two-Point Conversion, a team must first complete a touchdown.

In this case, the team that has just scored has to run a play from scrimmage close to the opposition’s goal line and has to get past the goal line, with the ball, as if they were scoring a touchdown. If the team succeeds, it gets two additional points along with the six points for the touchdown. Which is eight-points in total? And you know very well what impact 8 points can have in the context of the game.

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