What is 3rd Down in Football?

3rd down in Football is the third of four downs in the down cycle. 3rd down comes after 2nd down and before 4th down. 3rd down occurs after 2nd down if the offense does not reach the 1st down line on 2nd down.

football 3rd down

3rd Down Strategies

3rd down is the penultimate down of the down cycle before 4th down. For most teams in a standard game, 3rd down is the final down you get to run a play because most teams punt the football to the other team on 4th down. In 3rd and long scenarios (situations where the 1st down line is ten or more yards away), passing is imperative unless you're trying to fool the defense by running the ball. In 3rd and short situations (situations where the 1st down line is less than three yards away), running and passing are both viable options for the offense.

If the offense does not reach the 1st down marker on 3rd down, it is now 4th down. Depending on the situation, the offense may elect to go for the 1st down on 4th down, which is very risky.

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