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A short history of the pick six and its impact on football


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A pick six is simple. A quarterback throws an interception and the defender takes the ball in for a touchdown. When that happens, it is a good news, bad news situation for the offense.

The down side is the offense has to score between six and eight points depending on what the opposition did after the touchdown to get the points back and depending on what the opposing team did after scoring the touchdown.

The up side for the offense is that they are getting the ball back after a kick off and they get the opportunity to redeem themselves. If the defensive team executing the pick six is playing at home, more often than not that will cause the stadium to become raucously loud which can cause some trauma for the quarterback and the offense should he let it.

So what exactly can cause a pick six? It could be a couple of different things. The top cause is a ball that was thrown in an area where there was no receiver. Most of the time this happens it’s due to there being a miscommunication between the quarterback and the receiver as far as what the play was supposed to be. It could also be a receiver that slipped.

According to an article on Coldhardfootballfacts.com no team has ever lost in a super bowl (the official record is 11-0) when executing a pick six. When looking at the graph in the above article, you will also notice that all the other type of non offensive touchdown has that statistic. As a matter fact, more teams have lost than won when giving up either blocking a punt or returning a punt return for a touchdown. 

For an inexperienced quarterback, something like that could shake his confidence, which would make life easier for the defense. Why? Because if the quarterback is rattled, the call playing is going to be a lot more cautious and is more susceptible to making a mistake, hence giving up even more points to the opposing team and then it could become an uncontrollable spiral. 

In a matter of fact, history was recently made when it comes to the subject of who threw the most pick 6′s in a single game according to an article on Footballperspective.com when TJ Yates threw pick six’s in five consecutive games as of October 15 and the previous constant pick six victim was  Matt Schaub, according to the same article. It is not inconceivable the number would be even higher than that. After all, the stat has only been kept track of since 1940. 

Despite quarterback’s setting records for pick six’s as recently as the 2013 season, one of the most surprising statistics? The players who have the most interceptions defensively are from different eras completely, according to pro football-reference.com.

With the exception of Lester Hayes, who had 13 interceptions for the Raiders in 1980, you have to go quite a ways down the list to even find somebody close to that era.

So what is a pick six? When a quarterback throws an interception and when a defensive player returns it for a touchdown.

 

More about this author: Erich Heinlein