What does first and goal mean?

Updated: 12/21/2022
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10y ago

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1st down ball somewhere inside of the defense's 10 yard line. 10 yards for a 1st down, however in this case the goal line is before the 10 yard marker: resulting in 1st down and goal to go!
Football is played in short segments called downs. A team has four downs to advance the football. A down begins when the ball is snapped, and ends when the ball becomes dead. This usually means that the person carrying the ball is tackled or runs out of bounds, or the ball is thrown by the quarterback but is not caught. A team is able to get a new set of downs with each net gain of 10 yards. Since some downs might result in the ball moving backwards, a team might need to advance the football further than 10 yards in a down to achieve a first down (new set of downs). Note that these downs aren't cumulative. If the team, during their second down, gets a first down, they don't have a total of 6 downs. They would start at first down, and have four downs to attempt to get another first down or to score.

In describing the down, it is common to give both the down (first, second, third, or fourth down), and the number of yards required to receive a first down. Thus, 2nd and 7 means that a team is on their second down, and need to advance the ball 7 yards to achieve a first down. If a first down was achieved within 10 yards of the endzone, instead of giving a meaningless distance, "goal" will be used to indicate that the team no longer can gain a first down by advancing the ball, and instead has only four downs to score. Thus, 1st and goal would mean that it is the first down, and the team has no more first downs left. Typically, the team will be close to the endzone, unless penalties have moved them back.

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Q: What does first and goal mean?
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