What is a Pick 6 in Football?

What Is A Pick 6 In Football

As a football fan, you may have heard the term “pick 6” used in broadcasts or among fellow fans. But do you know what it means? In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth explanation of what a pick 6 is and its significance in football.

First, let’s define what a pick 6 is. In football, a pick 6 occurs when a defensive player intercepts the ball thrown by the opposing team’s quarterback and runs it back for a touchdown. The term “pick 6” comes from the combination of “pick” (short for interception) and “6” (the number of points awarded for a touchdown).

Now that we know what a pick 6 is, let’s explore why it’s an essential part of football. A pick 6 can be a game-changer, shifting momentum in favor of the team that scores. It can also be a morale boost for the defense, providing a sense of accomplishment and excitement. In some cases, a pick 6 can even be the deciding factor in a game, leading to a win or loss for a team.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the details of a pick 6, including how it occurs, its importance in football, and strategies to avoid it. So, let’s get started!

Definition of Pick 6

A quarterback throws an interception, leading to a pick 6 for the defense
A quarterback throws an interception, leading to a pick 6 for the defense

What is a Pick 6?

A pick 6 is a term used in football to describe an interception returned for a touchdown. This occurs when a defensive player catches the ball thrown by the opposing team’s quarterback and runs it back into the end zone for a touchdown. It’s called a “pick 6” because the interception results in 6 points for the team that scores the touchdown.

Origin and History of the Term

The term “pick 6” has been used for decades in football. It’s unclear exactly when the term was first used, but it’s likely that it was coined by sportscasters or fans to describe the interception and touchdown combination. The term has become ubiquitous in football culture, and it’s now widely recognized by fans and players alike.

In recent years, the pick 6 has become an increasingly important part of football, with players and coaches strategizing to create opportunities for interceptions and returns for touchdowns. As the game has evolved, the pick 6 has remained a critical factor in determining the outcome of games.

How a Pick 6 Occurs

Events Leading Up to a Pick 6

A pick 6 doesn’t happen randomly; it’s the result of a sequence of events that lead up to the interception and touchdown. Usually, a pick 6 occurs when the quarterback makes a poor decision and throws the ball into traffic or underthrows a receiver. A well-prepared defense can capitalize on these mistakes and intercept the ball.

The defense can also create opportunities for a pick 6 by pressuring the quarterback. When a quarterback is under pressure, they may rush their throw or throw the ball inaccurately, making it easier for a defender to intercept the ball.

Interception and Touchdown

Once the defense intercepts the ball, a pick 6 can occur if the defender is able to run the ball back to the end zone without being tackled. The defender must avoid the opposing team’s offense and any potential obstacles, such as other defenders or the sideline. If the defender successfully makes it to the end zone, they score a touchdown, and their team is awarded six points.

It’s worth noting that a pick 6 is not the only way a defensive player can score a touchdown. If a defensive player recovers a fumble and runs it back for a touchdown, this is also referred to as a “defensive touchdown.” However, a pick 6 is often considered more impressive because it requires a higher level of skill and strategy.

Now that we’ve explored how a pick 6 occurs let’s discuss why it’s such an important part of football.

The Importance of a Pick 6 in Football

A pick 6 can be a game-changer in football, shifting the momentum of the game and potentially leading to victory for the team that scores. Let’s take a closer look at how a pick 6 can change the outcome of a game, as well as some notable moments in football history.

How a Pick 6 can Change the Outcome of a Game

When a team scores a pick 6, it not only earns 6 points but also swings the momentum of the game in their favor. The defense gains confidence, and the opposing offense may become more hesitant or nervous. This can lead to turnovers or poor decision-making, further benefiting the team that scored the pick 6.

In some cases, a pick 6 can even be the deciding factor in a game, leading to a win or loss for a team. For example, in Super Bowl XLIV, the New Orleans Saints were trailing the Indianapolis Colts 10-6 in the third quarter. Saints cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted a pass from Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Saints the lead. The Saints went on to win the game 31-17, with Porter’s pick 6 being a pivotal moment in their victory.

Notable Pick 6 Moments in Football History

There have been many memorable pick 6 moments in football history, from the NFL to college football. Some notable examples include:

  • James Harrison’s 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.
  • Ed Reed’s 108-yard interception return for a touchdown in a game between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, setting a new NFL record for longest interception return for a touchdown.
  • Chris Davis’s 109-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown in the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama in 2013, known as the “Kick Six” and considered one of the most memorable moments in college football history.

These moments showcase the significance of a pick 6 in football, not only in terms of points but also in terms of momentum and game-changing potential.

Strategies to Avoid a Pick 6

A pick 6 can be a devastating blow to a football team, so it’s crucial to know how to avoid it. Here are some strategies that quarterbacks and offensive players can use to prevent interceptions:

Tips for Quarterbacks and Offensive Players

  1. Make smart decisions: One of the most crucial things a quarterback can do to avoid a pick 6 is to make smart decisions with the ball. This means being aware of the defensive players on the field, avoiding risky throws, and knowing when to throw the ball away.

  2. Practice ball security: Offensive players can help prevent interceptions by practicing good ball security. This includes keeping the ball tucked away securely, avoiding unnecessary movements that can jostle the ball loose, and being aware of defensive players trying to strip the ball.

  3. Communicate effectively: Good communication between quarterbacks and offensive players can help prevent interceptions. This includes clear signals and calls, effective routes, and being aware of each other’s movements on the field.

Defensive Strategies

  1. Pressure the quarterback: One of the most effective ways to intercept the ball is to put pressure on the quarterback. This can be done through blitzes, stunts, and other defensive strategies that disrupt the quarterback’s timing and decision-making.

  2. Study film: Defensive players can also prepare for interceptions by studying film of their opponents. This includes analyzing the opposing quarterback’s tendencies, offensive formations, and play-calling patterns.

  3. Stay disciplined: Finally, defensive players can prevent pick 6s by staying disciplined and focused on their assignments. This means maintaining good positioning, avoiding unnecessary risks, and being aware of the ball at all times.

By following these strategies, quarterbacks, offensive players, and defensive players can help prevent pick 6s and increase their chances of success on the field.


In conclusion, understanding what a pick 6 is in football can enhance your appreciation for the game. A pick 6 can be a game-changing moment that shifts momentum and ultimately decides the outcome of a game. By knowing how a pick 6 occurs, its significance in football, and strategies to avoid it, you can gain a more in-depth understanding of the sport.

At footballpluss, we hope this article has provided you with valuable insights into the world of football. Our goal is to provide informative and engaging content that enhances the football experience for fans everywhere. Whether you’re a seasoned football enthusiast or a newcomer to the sport, we hope you’ve enjoyed this article and learned something new.

Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you on the field!