Automatic First Down

Football Terms – Automatic 1st Down

An automatic first down is awarded to an offensive team in the NFL following certain rules infractions by the defensive team (such as defensive holding or pass interference). The penalty is enforced and the ball moved; then the offense gets an automatic first down (even if the distance the ball was moved wouldn’t normally be far enough to gain a first down).

Automatic first downs are NOT awarded for the following fouls:

Automatic first downs are awarded for the following fouls:

Penalties like Unsportsmanlike Conduct or Unnecessary Roughness do not necessarily mean an automatic 1st down, but since the yards penalized are 15, these penalties usually give the offense a first down.

NFL penalties can be very costly to teams, and sometimes there is a direct relationship between a team’s penalties and their win/loss record. The following is a brief list of some of the most heavily penalized teams in the history of the National Football League:

Football Terms Starting With “A”