A statistic when the defensive team takes the ball from the offensive team, thereby gaining possession. This is typically accomplished through one of two maneuvers: a fumble, in which the ball is lost by a ball carrier and recovered by a defensive player, and an interception, in which a pass attempt is caught by a defensive player. Either allows the defensive team to gain possession of the ball, and allows for extra possessions by the offense.
Takeaways are an essential part of a defense's effectiveness. Getting the ball back from the offense gives the team a chance to score again, while simultaneously denying the opposing team a chance to score. Teams that have more takeaways than their opposition tend to have a better chance of victory, since they have more opportunities to score than the other team. Interceptions and fumbles are the common forms of takeaways, although fumbles can occur in several different scenarios, including special team plays. Offenses will try to run plays that limit the ability of the defense to take the ball away.