The result of certain penalties assessed against the defense. The offense gets an automatic first down even though the penalty yards might not be enough to reach the first down marker.
Examples of penalties that would result in an automatic first
- Roughing the passer
- Roughing the kicker
- Defensive pass interference
- Defensive holding
It's important to note that some defensive penalties are assesed large yardage penalties (such as 10 or 15 yards), but they do not necessarily result in an automatic first down.