Turnover on downs

In American football and Canadian football, a turnover on downs occurs when a team's offense has used all their downs but has not progressed downfield enough to earn another set of downs. The resulting turnover gives possession of the ball to the team on defense.

In American football, both indoor and outdoor, a team has four chances (each chance is called a "down") to gain at least ten yards or to score. Any ground gained during each down short of these ten yards is kept for the next chance, and any ground lost must be regained in addition to the ten yards. Thus, if a team gains four yards on first down, it then has three chances to gain the six remaining yards, and if a team loses four yards on first down then it must gain a total of fourteen yards over the next three chances. If a team gains the required ten yards, it receives another four downs to gain another ten yards (an event called a "first down") or cross the goal line for a score. The same principles apply in Canadian football, except that a team has only three chances to gain ten yards instead of four.

In the NFL, turnovers on downs are not counted as turnovers in statistics for either team; turnover statistics tally turnovers that occur during a play — namely, fumble recoveries and interceptions.


In most cases, teams will use one less chance (i.e. three in American football, two in Canadian football) than they are permitted to try to gain a first down. Usually, if a team has failed to gain the needed yardage when playing its final down, it will then punt the ball, offering the opposing team possession (the kicking team aims to place the ball downfield), or attempt to kick a field goal if close enough (typically within 40 yards of the goal posts). In the event of a successful punt, the opposing team will start its new set of downs at the spot the punt returner can advance the ball to before being tackled (or goes out of bounds), or where the punt goes out of bounds, or (in American football only) where the punt comes to rest when rolling to a stop or at the spot where the punt is fair-caught.

Reasons for attempting a 4th down

In some instances, a team may elect to use its last down to try to gain the yardage, rather than punt or kick a field goal . This is often referred to as "going for it" or "sticking" (as opposed to "kicking"). This disadvantage is that if this conversion attempt fails, the opposing team will immediately take possession of the ball at the spot where the play ended, rather than (usually) much farther away from a score in the case of a punt. Factors that may lead to a team making this choice are:

  • Only a small distance is needed to gain a first down
  • Only a small distance is needed to score a touchdown (a team's incentive to "go for it" in this situation may be higher due to the higher reward--a touchdown--if they succeed)
  • A team is close to, but not within field goal range, such that a punt may not net very many yards (in American football, if the punt reaches the end zone, the opposing team will get the ball on the 20-yard line).
  • A team believes it has a chance to convert the first down by way of a fake punt or a fake field goal.
  • A bad snap or a fumble by the offensive forces a team to abandon a field goal or punt attempt and unexpectedly go for it.
  • A blocked field goal or a punt by the defense ends up being recovered by the offense and unexpectedly goes for it.
  • A team believes the defense might cause a penalty thus giving the team on offense a closer distance to convert or, depending on the penalty, an automatic first down.
  • A team's kicking or punting team may not be very good and goes for it to avoid the possibility of missing a field goal or having a punt blocked.
  • At certain times of the year the weather might be factor into going for it instead of kicking or punting the ball.
  • The game's end is near and the team wants to score additional points to prevent the opposing team from coming back to tie or win the game.
  • The game's end is near or in overtime and if the team surrenders possession of the ball, it may not have another chance to score what is needed to win or tie the game.
  • The game's end is near, and the team is in field goal range but is trailing such that a field goal would not tie or win the game, but a touchdown would.
  • The game's end is near and the team is out of field goal range but there is enough time on the clock to execute one final play to score a touchdown to tie or win the game via Hail Mary pass or a series of lateral passes.
  • The game's first half end is near and they need to score a field goal or a touchdown to cut into the deficit, tie the game or go ahead before halftime.
  • A team is trailing by more than a touchdown, and needs a touchdown AND one or more additional scores to tie or win the game.
  • In certain situations near the end of the game the team on fourth down is leading, may attempt it to prevent the opposing team from possessing the ball for a game tying or game winning score.
  • In certain leagues, if a game is in overtime, the team may need to convert on fourth down in order to score a touchdown to win the game automatically, where as a field goal would not.
  • In certain leagues, in order to make the playoffs, tiebreaking procedures includes points scored so a team might want to score touchdowns rather than field goals to win the tiebreaker.
  • Finally, if there is no obvious reason to attempt a conversion, a team may nevertheless attempt one if it believes the attempt will surprise the defense or catch it off-balance.

See also

1905 Baylor football team

The 1905 Baylor football team was an American football team that represented Baylor University as an independent during the 1905 college football season. In its first season under head coach Archie Webb, the team compiled a 1–6 record and was outscored by a total of 159 to 20.Beginning in 1905, the team's home games were played at Carroll Field, between the Carroll Science Building and Waco Creek.

1983 Liberty Bowl

The 1983 Liberty Bowl was an American college football bowl game played on December 29, 1983 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The game pitted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Boston College Eagles.

1998 UCF Golden Knights football team

The 1998 UCF Golden Knights football season was Mike Kruczek's first as the head coach of the Golden Knights. Kruczek led UCF to its best season at the time with a 9–2 record in 1998. Daunte Culpepper finished 6th in the Heisman Trophy voting and set the NCAA record for completion percentage that year (73.4%).

UCF started out with a bang, routing Louisiana Tech and Eastern Illinois. Daunte Culpepper accounted for seven touchdowns against Eastern Illinois, earning him the USA Today Player of the Week honors. At 2-0, the Golden Knights faced Purdue on September 19. It was UCF's first game nationally televised on ESPN. The Golden Knights faltered, however, and lost 35-7. Twice the Golden Knights were deep inside the red zone, but a pick-six interception and a turnover on downs were the results.

On November 7 at Auburn, the team experienced one of the most heartbreaking losses in school history. UCF entered with a record of 7-1, and hoped for a huge upset, working towards a possible at-large bowl bid. The Knights led 6-3 late in the game when inside the red zone, quarterback Daunte Culpepper fumbled away a bad shotgun snap. Auburn recovered, and quickly drove down the field. With one minute left, Auburn scored a go-ahead 58-yard touchdown pass. Karsten Bailey eluded a tackle at midfield, and managed a tightrope run down the sidelines for the game-winning score.

Following the disappointment at Auburn, UCF returned home to rout Ball State and New Mexico and finished with an impressive 9–2 record. UCF received a tentative verbal agreement to play in the Oahu Bowl. However, the arrangement fell through in the final week of the season, when Miami upset undefeated UCLA. The resulting shuffle in the bowl berths left UCF out, and dashed their hopes for their first bowl appearance.Following the season, Culpepper was drafted with the 11th pick in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings, marking the highest ever draft pick of a UCF player to that point until Blake Bortles would break it in 2014 as the 3rd pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2004 Emerald Bowl

The 2004 Emerald Bowl was a post-season college football bowl game between the New Mexico Lobos and the Navy Midshipmen on December 30, 2004 at SBC Park in San Francisco, United States. The game, which Navy won with a final score of 34–19, was highlighted by a 26-play drive from the Midshipmen that took up almost 15 minutes of game time and set the record for the longest drive in a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college football game. The contest was the third time the Emerald Bowl was played and the final game of the 2004 NCAA football season for both teams.

The conference independent Navy Midshipmen, who finished the regular season with a 9–2 record, accepted an invitation to play in the game on November 22, 2004. Eight days later, the 7–4 New Mexico Lobos agreed to fill the open spot reserved for a Mountain West Conference team. Leading up to the game, sports writers predicted that a major highlight of the contest would be the rushing offenses of Midshipmen head coach Paul Johnson and Lobos head coach Rocky Long; both teams ranked in the top rushing offenses in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Lobos also ranked as one of the nation's top rushing defenses.

The game began at 1:35 p.m. PST in rainy conditions that had affected the San Francisco Bay Area for days before the contest. The Lobos scored a touchdown on the game's first drive to take an early lead, but the Midshipmen scored three touchdowns to bring the score to 21–7 early in the second quarter. After the Lobos narrowed that lead to 12 points by the end of the third quarter, the Midshipmen began a long drive which took up much of the fourth quarter. The drive ended with a field goal, which gave Navy a 15-point lead with a little over two minutes remaining in the game. On the next drive from the Lobos, the Midshipmen forced a turnover on downs and ran out the clock with their last possession to win the game.

Midshipmen players Aaron Polanco and Vaughn Kelley were named the game's offensive and defensive Most Valuable Players, respectively. The win caused the Midshipmen to finish the season with a 10–2 record, their best record since the 1905 season. After the game, the Associated Press College Poll and the USA Today Coaches' Poll ranked the team as the 24th best in the nation. The loss caused the Lobos' record to fall to 7–5.

2007 Music City Bowl

The 2007 Music City Bowl was the 10th edition of the Music City Bowl, and it was played on December 31, 2007. Part of the 2007–2008 bowl season, it featured the Kentucky Wildcats and the Florida State Seminoles. Both teams entered the game with a 7–5 overall record and a 4–4 conference record; Florida State had been ranked as high as #19 in the season's AP polls, appearing in the rankings for two weeks that season. Kentucky had been ranked as high as #8 (twice) in the season's AP polls and had been ranked for eight weeks during the season. Sponsored by Gaylord Hotels and Bridgestone, it was officially named the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl presented by Bridgestone.

The Seminoles came into the game without 34 players due to various injuries, violations of team rules, and a large academic cheating scandal. For the Wildcats, this was déjà vu all over again, as they had played in last year's edition of the game, entered it with the same 7–5 overall record, and faced an Atlantic Coast Conference team coached by a Bowden, namely the Clemson team coached by Tommy Bowden, son of longtime FSU head coach Bobby Bowden.

In the first quarter, Kentucky scored first on a 14-yard André Woodson touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Tamme. Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford then scored on a 6-yard touchdown run. Kentucky built a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Woodson to Steve Johnson. Kentucky's defense then held Florida State to a turnover on downs inside the Kentucky five yard line, but immediately after that Florida State tied the game before halftime when Tony Carter intercepted a Woodson pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown.

Kentucky struck first in the third quarter when Woodson threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Rafael Little. A 4-yard touchdown run by Tony Dixon boosted Kentucky's third quarter lead to 28-14. Florida State scored first in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard Weatherford touchdown run to make it 28-21. Woodson's 38-yard touchdown pass to Steve Johnson extended the Kentucky lead to 35-21. The game's final score was a 7-yard touchdown pass from Weatherford to Greg Carr to bring about the final tally: Kentucky 35, Florida State 28. The game appeared iced when Kentucky linebacker Micah Johnson intercepted a Weatherford pass with less than one minute remaining, but in attempting to return the interception Johnson fumbled the ball away and Florida State recovered. Florida State threw a pass into the end zone at the end of regulation but Kentucky defenders batted it down to seal the win.

The attendance of 68,661 set a new record for the Music City Bowl.

In Kentucky's 35–28 victory, 2006 game MVP André Woodson repeated as the 2007 MVP after throwing four touchdown passes. Florida State's Antone Smith gained a career-high 156 rushing yards; Kentucky's Rafael Little rushed for 152 yards and caught one touchdown pass, but he also fumbled twice. The win gave the Wildcats back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since 1952. It was also the first loss ever for the elder Bowden in a December bowl game.

2008 Florida Gators football team

The 2008 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida in the sport of American football during the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Gators competed in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and played their home games in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the university's Gainesville, Florida, campus. They were led by fourth-year head coach Urban Meyer.

After clinching the SEC East, the Gators defeated then top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 31–20 in the SEC Championship Game to win their eighth conference title. They capped their season by defeating the Oklahoma Sooners in the BCS National Championship Game 24–14. The Gators finished the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll.

2016 UCF Knights football team

The 2016 UCF Knights football team represented the University of Central Florida in the 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Knights were members of the East Division of the American Athletic Conference (The American) and played their home games at Bright House Networks Stadium on UCF's main campus in Orlando, Florida. They were led by first-year head coach Scott Frost. They finished the regular season 6–6, 4–4 in American Athletic Conference play, finishing in third place in the East Division. They were invited to the Cure Bowl, where they lost to Arkansas State.

This was the second season where UCF would be bowl eligible just one year after going winless. The 2016 season served as a transition between the winless 2015 season and the undefeated season one year later in 2017.

2017–18 NFL playoffs

The 2017–18 NFL playoffs began on January 6, 2018, after the 2017 season, and concluded with Super Bowl LII on Sunday, February 4, 2018, when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

These playoffs were notable for several teams snapping long playoff droughts, as the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans each qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1999, 2004, 2007, and 2008, respectively.

The playoffs were also notable for the Patriots reaching a seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game, extending their own NFL record. and the Eagles snapping a 57-year championship drought and claiming their first in the Super Bowl era.


A cornerback (CB), also referred to as a corner or defensive halfback in older parlance, is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers most of the time, to defend against offensive plays, i.e create turnovers in best case or (more common) deflect a forward pass or rather make a tackle. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position requires speed, agility, and strength. A cornerback's skillset typically requires proficiency in anticipating the quarterback, backpedaling, executing single and zone coverage, disrupting pass routes, block shedding, and tackling. Cornerbacks are among the fastest players on the field.

Down (gridiron football)

A down is a period in which a play transpires in American and Canadian football. The down is a distinguishing characteristic of the game compared to other codes of football, but is synonymous with a "tackle" in rugby league. The team in possession of the football has a limited number of downs (four downs in American football, three downs in Canadian football) to advance ten yards or more towards their opponent's goal line. If they fail to advance that far, possession of the ball is turned over to the other team. In most situations, if a team reaches their final down they will punt to their opponent, which forces them to begin their drive from further down the field; if they are in range, they might also attempt to score a field goal.

Holy Buckeye

Holy Buckeye is the nickname given to one of the most famous plays in the history of Ohio State football. It occurred in a late-regular season game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Purdue Boilermakers at Ross–Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana, on November 9, 2002.The play was a critical point for the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes football team, as an incomplete pass (or a failed first-down conversion) would have likely resulted in a loss to Purdue, which in turn, would have almost certainly removed Ohio State from national championship contention. The nickname "Holy Buckeye" is a play on other similar expressions (i.e., "holy cow", "holy mackerel", etc.) and came from Brent Musburger, the ABC television play-by-play announcer, who exclaimed the phrase as the completion was made.

Muffed punt

In gridiron football, a muffed punt is defined as "touching of the ball prior to possessing the ball.”

A muffed punt occurs when there is an "uncontrolled touch" of the football by a player on the returning team after it is punted. This can occur when:

The kicking team interferes with the other team's right to catch the punt

A player on the kicking team is struck unaware by the football running down-field to cover the punt.

A player attempts to return the ball, makes contact with it but cannot retain the ball in his hands and it comes loose.

To be a fumble, the receiving team must possess the football, then lose control. In the case of a fumble, the ball is live and can be returned by the team that recovers the ball. In the case of a muffed punt, it is possible for the punting team to recover the ball and continue the drive, but at least in NCAA and NFL rules, they cannot advance the ball on that same play. Rules vary by league about how to handle a muffed punt.

Nonetheless, a muffed punt is a turnover. In the NFL, a muffed punt recovered by the kicking team cannot be challenged by a coach for review because all turnovers are automatically reviewed.

Punt (gridiron football)

In American and Canadian football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.

The type of punt leads to different motion of the football. Alex Moffat invented the now-common spiral punt, as opposed to end-over-end.

Spike (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a spike of the ball is a play in which the quarterback intentionally throws the ball at the ground immediately after the snap and is principally used as part of clock management by a team on offense. A spike is technically an incomplete pass, and therefore, it has the effect of stopping the clock at the cost of exhausting a down. A spike is performed when the offensive team is conducting a hurried drive near the end of the first half or of the game, and the game clock is still running in the aftermath of the previous play; as an incomplete pass the spike causes the referee to stop the game clock, and the offensive team will have a chance to huddle and plan the next play without losing scarce game-clock time.

A spike is not considered intentional grounding if it is done with the quarterback under center and immediately after the snap. No penalty is assessed.

Running a spike play presumes there will be at least one play by the same team immediately afterward, so it would not be done on fourth down; instead, a regular play would have to be run without a huddle.

In the 1998 Rose Bowl, Ryan Leaf spiked the ball and inadvertently ran the clock out on that play. In the 2012 Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson also ran the clock out on a spike ball play. In both cases, just before such spike, the clock was stopped with just 2 seconds left (while the sideline chains were being moved for 1st down, the usual procedure when playing under college football rules).

In 2014, Nick Montana spiked the ball on 4th down near the end of the first half of a game between his Tulane University and UCF, resulting in a turnover on downs; he erroneously believed his team had gained a first down.In Canadian football, spike plays are legal but very rare. This is mainly because a final play is always run whenever the game clock expires while the ball is dead, rendering spike plays unnecessary. Also, the offense in Canadian football only receives three downs instead of four.

Street football (American)

Street football, also known as backyard football or sandlot football, is a simplified variant of American football primarily played informally by youth. It features far less equipment and fewer rules than its counterparts, but unlike the similar touch football, features full tackling.

Swinging gate (American football)

The Swinging Gate is an unorthodox set-piece play in American football, executed in either the offensive or special-teams sections of play. It is unusual in that the offensive line, with the exception of the center, will line up to one side of the field, leaving the quarterback and running back unprotected on the other. Its goal is to disconcert a defensive front in order to allow a quick screen pass to a wide receiver with six blockers, or to allow a short run by the running back. Surprise is the main goal of the play, and it is not typically run outside of short-yardage situations.

The play, originally formulated in the 1930s, still retains a modicum of popularity on high school and college teams, where the lesser athleticism of the players will allow the play to be performed with a greater degree of success. An example of the play can be found in the closing scenes of Adam Sandler's remake of the movie The Longest Yard, where Sandler's team executes the play successfully.

Turnover (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a turnover occurs when the team with the ball loses possession of the ball without kicking it, which is then gained by the other team. In American football, the two events that are officially classified as "turnovers" are fumbles (accidental physical loss of a live ball a player has possession of) or interceptions (passes intended for a member of the passing team, but caught by a member of the opposing team).

In addition, the term "turnover" is often used to refer to a turnover on downs, when a team attempts to gain a first down, touchdown or field goal on a fourth down play (known as a fourth down conversion), but is unsuccessful. When this occurs, the opposing team automatically gains possession at the spot to which the ball was advanced at the end of the play, unless a penalty has occurred (every defensive penalty, if accepted, results either in an automatic first down or a replay of down). In this event, the team that has lost possession is not permitted an opportunity to advance the ball any further.

National Football League game statistics recording turnovers only include lost fumbles and intercepted passes; turnovers on downs are not included (e.g., a team whose only turnovers are turnovers on downs is credited with having "no turnovers").

In Canadian football, turnovers generally occur in a similar manner to American football, except that a turnover on downs will occur after three downs instead of four. In addition, Canadian Football League statistics record turnovers on downs on an equal basis to turnovers caused by fumbles and interceptions.

Wide receiver

A wide receiver, also referred to as wideouts or simply receivers, is an offensive position in American and Canadian football, and is a key player. They get their name because they are split out "wide" (near the sidelines), farthest away from the rest of the team. Wide receivers are among the fastest players on the field. The wide receiver functions as the pass-catching specialist.

X-League Indoor Football

X-League Indoor Football (X-League) was a professional indoor football league that began play in 2014. The league was co-chaired by Michael Mink and Kacee Smith. On September 19, 2015, the league announced a merger with the future "North American Indoor Football" but later stated the merger would not go forward as announced and disbanded.

Levels of play
Play clock

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