A touchdown is a means of scoring in both American and Canadian football. Whether running, passing, returning a kickoff or punt, or recovering a turnover, a team scores a touchdown by advancing the ball into the opponent's end zone.
1 Description 2 History 3 See also 4 References
To score a touchdown, one team must take the football into the
opposite end zone. The touchdown is scored the instant the ball
crosses the plane of the goal line (that is, if any part of the ball
is in the space on, above, or across the goal line) while in
possession of a player whose team is trying to score in that end zone.
The play is dead and the touchdown scores the moment the ball crosses
the goal line in possession of a player, or the moment the ball comes
into possession of an offensive player in the end zone (having
established possession by controlling the ball and having both feet or
another part of the body, excluding the hands, touch the ground). The
slightest part of the ball being over the goal line is sufficient for
a touchdown to score. However, only the ball counts, not a player's
helmet, foot, or any other part of the body. Touching one of the
pylons at either end of the goal line with the ball constitutes
"breaking the plane" as well.
Touchdowns are usually scored by the offense by running or passing the
ball. However, the defense can also score a touchdown if they have
recovered a fumble or made an interception and return it to the
opposing end zone.
A touchdown celebration
A touchdown is worth six points. The scoring team is also awarded the
opportunity for an extra point or a two-point conversion.
Afterwards, the team that scored the touchdown kicks off to the
opposing team, if there is any time left.
Unlike a try scored in rugby, and contrary to the event's name, the
ball does not need to touch the ground when the player and the ball
are inside the end zone, although in gridiron's early days the ball
was required to be touched to the ground as in rugby, as rugby and
gridiron were extremely similar sports at this point. This rule was
changed to the modern-day iteration in 1889.
When the first uniform rules for
In 1881, the rules were modified so that a goal kicked from a touchdown took precedence over a goal kicked from the field in breaking ties. In 1882, four touchdowns were determined to take precedence over a goal kicked from the field. Two safeties were equivalent to a touchdown. In 1883, points were introduced to football, and a touchdown counted as four points. A goal after a touchdown also counted as four points. In 1889, the provision requiring the ball to actually be touched to the ground was removed. A touchdown was now scored by possessing the ball beyond the goal line. In 1897, the touchdown scored five points, and the goal after touchdown added another point. In 1900, the definition of touchdown was changed to include situations where the ball becomes dead on or above the goal line. In 1912, the value of a touchdown was increased to six points. The end zone was also added. Before the addition of the end zone, forward passes caught beyond the goal line resulted in a loss of possession and a touchback. (The increase from five points to six did not come until much later in Canada, and the touchdown remained only five points there until 1956.)
The ability to score a touchdown on the point-after attempt (two-point
conversion) was added to NCAA football in 1958, high school football
in 1969, the CFL in 1975 and the NFL in 1994. The short-lived
World Football League, a professional
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Touchdowns.
^ "NFL Rules Digest: Summary of Penalties". Nfl.com. Retrieved 2012-11-23. ^ "2006 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletics Association. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-24. ^ a b c d e f g h i Nelson, David M. (1994). The Anatomy of A Game. Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-455-2. ^ "NFL History 1991-2000". NFL.com.
v t e
American–Canadian comparison Burnside rules Glossary
Arena Indoor 9-man 8-man 6-man Flag Touch Street/Backyard Powderpuff Wheelchair Rules of gridiron football codes
Levels of play
Pop Warner AYF
Varsity Junior varsity
Hash marks Goal line Sidelines
Line of scrimmage
End zone Red zone Neutral zone Coffin corner Flat Gap Hole Pocket
Touchdown One-point conversion Two-point conversion Field goal Safety Single (rouge)
Fumble Interception Muffed punt Turnover on downs
First down Three-and-out Fourth down conversion Dead ball
Timeout Kneel Spike Time warnings
3 min. 2 min. 1 min.
Clock management Running out the clock Untimed play Garbage time
Total quarterback rating
Yards after catch
Yards from scrimmage
Two-a-days Oklahoma drill Three-cone drill Film session
Official (American, Canadian) Chain crew Penalty Penalty flag Instant replay
Running up the score