Hut, hut, hike! Quickly the quarterback drops back, throws the ball to a wide receiver, and then after a few seconds, the player is down, and the referee signals the end of a play with their whistle. With the wide receiver down by contact on the play, the clock stops running until the next play begins. The quarterback is about to get the ball on the next play, but the defensive team creates an offside penalty, stopping the action. So how long are NFL games precisely with all these breaks? Find out this answer and more below!
How Many Minutes of Game Time is a Football Game?
NFL games are sixty minutes of game time broken into four 15-minute quarters. Each quarter is set to 15 minutes of game clock time that stops multiple times for various reasons. Stoppages take place for a handful of reasons, which I will outline later down this post.
How Long are NFL Games?
According to a tweet from a sportswriter, Joe Pompliano, from Huddle Up, NFL games are around three hours in total. However, the three hours to watch a football consists of a bit over eleven minutes of play, according to The Wall Street Journal. So how can a game that is 60 minutes of game clock time take three hours and only deliver eleven minutes of action? Here is the breakdown below.
What Adds to the Time of Regular American Football Games?
There are numerous reasons why the game clock stops running during an NFL football game. Below are some of the most common reasons why clock stoppages occur during an average NFL season game.
- The kickoff to one team usually follows a quick commercial break.
- An incomplete pass from the quarterback to their target
- A touchdown and or field goal that allows the team to celebrate for a bit in the end zone
- Calling a timeout
- When a team commits a penalty (like offsides, pass interference, too many players on the field) which needs the referee to stop a play
- Instant replay reviews
- Halftime breaks between the first half and the second half
- Punts that stop the clock after the receiving team either runs out of bounds, is tackled, or scores a touchdown.
- The two-minute warning stops the clock, which takes place during the second and fourth quarter of a football game. The two-minute warning stops the clock, which leads to a commercial break most of the time.
- One team refusing to snap the ball till the last possible second. For example, a winning team in the fourth quarter with the ball will try and take as much time between snaps to bring the remaining time in a game. Since each play clock is 40-seconds, you can imagine how much time is wasted when teams hold on to the ball where nothing is happening.
- An injury that takes place on the field
What Adds to the Time for Playoff / Superbowl Games?
Like regular season football games, the playoffs and especially the Superbowl add even more time to the game. The primary reason why playoff games are longer than regular-season games pertains to commercials. In addition, the halftime show during the Superbowl adds additional time to the show as well.
What is the Longest National Football League Game?
The longest American Football Game took place in 1971 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. The game took 82 minutes of game time to reach a winner, which the Dolphins eventually won. All in all, the game took seven hours and eight minutes to complete.
What are Ways the NFL is Speeding up the Game?
NFL fan theories have become a widespread discussion between friends on ways to speed up the game. Whether or not the NFL implements any of these remains to be seen, but speeding up the action is a popular discussion. Here are some ideas you will hear from fans on ways to speed up the action during games.
- Speed up instant replays via reviews
- Reducing the 40-second snap clock to something else. Reducing the 40 seconds to something like 30 seconds could result in more action throughout the game
- Keeping the play clock running on incomplete passes and or plays
- Remove the 2-minute warnings
- Reduce the number of challenges and or timeouts a team can call
- Limiting the number of commercials between plays. Another option is to use a double box, which allows the action to be on one screen while a commercial
In conclusion, the average NFL game takes over three hours to complete, similar to MLB, NHL, and NBA games. With games taking two to three hours to complete, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep everyone’s attention during a game. Considering that a football game only consists of eleven minutes of action, the league continues looking for ways to increase the activity during matches, according to The Wall Street Journal.