Football rules question

I have a question on football rules.

Specifically, after a touchdown, does a team have to declare whether they are going for the extra point or the two point conversion?

Suppose for example, a team brings it’s extra point squad on to the field. However, a bad snap occurs and the place holder realizes that the kicker won’t be able to get a good kick. So he picks up the ball and somehow makes it into the end zone. Does his team get the two points? Or are they “locked into” the extra point method (ball through the uprights)?

Zev Steinhardt

I don’t have the handy-dandy rulebook in front of me, but based on what I’ve seen in the past, no declaration of intent is necessary. The holder in your scenario would score two points for his team, since he crossed the goalline on a point-after-touchdown (PAT). If he ran around for 20 seconds, decided he couldn’t make it into the endzone, and then drop-kicked the ball through the uprights, his team would get one point.

However, if he crossed the line of scrimmage and then tried a drop-kick, no points would be awarded.

The only time you have to “declare” something to the referee, as far as I know, is when you plan to run the tackle-eligible play, wherein the tackle is eligible to catch the ball. Even then, you don’t have to throw the ball to the tackle; you just have to make the referee aware that the tackle is an eligible receiver for that play.

You can run a fake for a 2-point conversion all the time. It happens a lot. If you get a bad snap, the holder yells out “fire” and there is supposed to be a designed play for everyone to run.

In the NFL, if the kick is blocked the play is over, but in college football, if the kick is blocked, the offense can pick it up behind the line of scrimmage and try to run or pass it in for two points.

Thanks for the replies Sauron and BobT. That leads to my next question:

If, on a two point conversion attempt, the offense fumbles the ball, can the defense pick it up and score a touchdown by running 98 yards the other way? Or can only the offensive team score? Similarly, can the QB be intercepted on a two point conversion, or is the ball dead as soon as the defense gets possession of it?

Zev Steinhardt

Just last week a PAT was blocked and run back for a touchdown, so I assume that the same could be done with a two point conversion.

If it’s interecepted in the endzone, I believe it’s a touchback, brought out to the twenty yard line.

Woo hoo! Brian Urlacher! Defensive Rookie of the Year!!! He’s so dreamy.


My answer is based on the college game; pro rules may vary.

In college, if the defense recovers a fumble or intercepts a pass while the offense is going for a two-point conversion, the defense can run the ball back to the other end zone and score two points. One possible caveat: I believe in college a fumble cannot be advanced if it occurs beyond the line of scrimmage, so for the defense to score two points the fumble would have to occur behind the line of scrimmage. If it occurred beyond the line of scrimmage, the play would be ruled dead if the defense recovered it.

Brief story: In the mid- to late-80s, Alabama was playing LSU in college football when LSU scored and tried to go for two. Lee Ozmint, a safety on Alabama’s team, intercepted the pass and ran the ball all the way back to the LSU end zone for two points. Lee was not exactly the fastest player on the field, and it was somewhat amazing to see him gallop, seemingly in slow-motion, approximately 100 yards with others in pursuit. Lee later expressed amazement that all he got for his efforts was two points. “The first 50 yards I ran,” he said, “I was hoping nobody would catch me from behind. The last 50 yards, I was praying somebody would.”

Bill Curry, who was Alabama’s head coach at the time, said later that Lee’s runback took so long that he was worried Alabama would be flagged for delay of game.

In the NFL, once an extra point attempt is ended (blocked kick, intercepted pass, fumble recovered by someone other than the fumbling player), the play is over.
The defense cannot score a point on an extra point attempt in the NFL, only in the NCAA. You can’t score one in high school football either (although that may vary by state.)

thanks for the clarification. this DID happen in that bowl game on New Year’s Eve though, didn’t it? i’m not dreaming that.

Mississippi State returned an extra point for a 2 point score in the Independence Bowl in snowy Shreveport on New Year’s Eve. It made the whole concept of having a bowl game in Shreveport worthwhile.