What is a Pick 6 in Football?

When the defense team returns an interception for a score, it’s called a pick-six. After a turnover, the defense takes over as the offense, giving the player who intercepted the pass the opportunity to score a touchdown. Pick 6s are rare, but they can change the course of a game.

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Picks six are extremely uncommon in today’s game because so much must happen before one occurs. Continue reading if you’re a fan of American football and would like to know more about the pick-six, including why it’s called a pick-six, how to improve your odds of receiving one, and some of the greatest players to ever receive one.

What makes it a Pick Six, anyway?

Anyone unfamiliar with American football won’t understand the appropriate colloquialisms and jargon used daily during practice and games. Should you be curious about the origin of the term “pick 6,” you may be surprised to hear that it’s straightforward.

The word “pick,” in its first part, is slang for an intercept. When we say something like, “The quarterback just threw a pick with three minutes left in the game,” or “The cornerback just picked off the quarterback,” we use this phrase. The term’s second half, six, stands for the points given to the side that intercepts the ball and scores a touchdown.

Whether a touchdown is scored through passing, rushing, kick return, or fumble recovery, the same amount of points are awarded.

Recall that a pick-six requires both an interception and a touchdown to happen on a play. Just think about the interception (pick) and a touchdown (6) if you’re ever unclear about the origin of the word “pick six.”

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How does the game change with a Pick Six?

In football, a pick-six can change the course of a play. The team that receives the pick-six has the opportunity to change the game’s momentum and take command of the tempo, regardless of whether they are winning or losing.

Any score, it’s true, is a significant aspect of the game, but what makes a pick-six unique is how it’s accomplished. There is a psychological component to it that makes it a dagger in the heart of the opposition and tough to recover from.

Pick six plays accomplish much more than just putting six, most likely seven, points on the board. The other team is far more rattled than they were on the previous drive out when they get on the offensive. The quarterback may overanalyze situations, which could be detrimental to his team.

One of the best things a defense can have during an American football game is the terror that the quarterback now feels. It alters the entire dynamic of the game and increases the likelihood that the quarterback will err again. It’s mostly the reason why one of the most sought-after qualities in a quarterback is the capacity to recover from a poor play.

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Pick 6 in Football FAQs

1)For what reason is it called a pick-six in football?

The phrase refers to “picking” the ball out of the air and robbing the quarterback of it. Pick 6 refers to the number of points that the defense receives after the intercepted player scores. Six points are awarded for an interception that is returned for a touchdown.

2) Following a pick-6, who receives the ball?

The team that scored the pick-6 will kick off to the team that threw the interception (or fumble, if applicable), and they will have possession of the ball following the kickoff and any potential penalties that may follow, or at the 25-yard line on a touchback. 

3) Is a pick-six a good thing?

For both teams, the pick-6 completely changes the game and has the power to shift the flow of play. The quarterback becomes mentally unsettled after a pick-six and becomes more careful while tossing the ball down the field.


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