Late in Monday night’s game between the Patriots and the Bills, NFL history was almost made, as the first one-point safety ever was almost scored.
A lot of fans probably don’t even realize that there is such a thing as a one-point safety, because there’s never been on in NFL history. But it does exist, and if it ever does happen in the NFL it will probably happen like this: A team scores a touchdown and is going for two. The offense throws an interception into the end zone, the defensive player takes it out of the end zone, then he gets hit just after he runs out of the end zone, fumbles back into the end zone, and one of his teammates recovers. That would be a safety, but because it comes on a two-point conversion attempt instead of a regular play from scrimmage, it would be a one-point safety.
That nearly happened after a Patriots fourth-quarter touchdown on Monday night: Tom Brady passed into the end zone on the two-point conversion attempt, Bills linebacker Julian Stanford intercepted, then started to run the ball out, was hit and fumbled, and the Bills recovered in the end zone. If Stanford had crossed the goal line with the ball before fumbling back into the end zone, the Bills’ recovery in the end zone would have given the Patriots one point. However, Stanford never brought the ball out of the end zone before fumbling, so that made the play like a touchback, not a safety.
If the Patriots had recovered the fumble in the end zone, it would have been a successful two-point conversion. It looked like the Patriots actually might have jumped on it, but the officials ruled it recovered by the Bills, and ESPN did not show any replay angles that were conclusive.
ESPN’s broadcast didn’t pay much attention to the play, perhaps because the folks at ESPN weren’t aware of the dynamics at play. Former referee Jeff Triplette works on ESPN’s Monday night broadcasts but rarely chimes in and didn’t say anything about the play last night.
One-point safeties have happened in college football, including in a couple of high-profile games, the 2004 Texas-Texas A&M game and the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. Eventually, one will happen in the NFL. And now you’ll know what’s happening.