What is second and 10 in football?
Before understanding what 2nd and 10 is and why it is relevant, be sure to review our page on down and distance.
In football, 2nd down and 10 is one of the most common downs. This is because 1st and 10 (the default and most common down) becomes 2nd and 10 after an incomplete pass, which is a fairly common outcome.
It is often said that 2nd down is a "playcaller's dream" because it is not as vital to a drive's success as 3rd down, but also does not come with the same pressure of gaining yards as 1st down. While this is true for short-yardage situations on 2nd down, it does not really apply to 2nd and 10. Because the offense has failed to gain yards on 1st down, they must gain yards, or else face a dreaded 3rd and long scenario.
On 2nd and 10, playcallers tend to run the ball more than they should. In fact, run plays are called on 2nd and 10 more often than 2nd and 9, which seems counterintuitive. This fallacy comes about because 1st and 10 likely came about due to an incomplete pass, which would discourage another pass on 2nd down.
While 2nd and 10 represents an offensive miscue on 1st down, it also gives the offense a second chance to gain yards before the crucial 3rd down. While teams in the NFL tend to pass the ball more often on 2nd and 10, run plays are also called to fool the defense or gain a few extra yards before 3rd down.