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  1. american football
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  3. game length

How Long Does An American Football Game Last?

Table of Contents

How long is a game of American football?

American football is 60 minutes long, with an additional 15 minutes if overtime is required (In the NFL. In college football, there is no time limit for overtime.) The game usually lasts longer than 60 minutes due to breaks in the action, such as penalties, reviews, and time between quarters. The 60 minutes are divided into four 15 minute quarters, making up the first half and the second half of the game.

Football games take much longer than an hour. Games can typically run two or even three hours depending on if the game goes into overtime. Injuries and media timeouts can also account for large amounts of time that increase the overall length of the football game. Recent studies have shown that the average NFL game lasts around three hours in total.

Quarters and Halves

Football games consist of two 30 minute halves broken down into four 15 minute quarters for NFL and college football. The time in between quarters, as well as the halftime break will also account for additional time added to a football game.

The Game Clock

The game clock is used to keep track of time in each of the quarters.

However, the game clock is not continuous and will stop for the following reasons:

The Play Clock

The play clock keeps track of time in between downs and is used throughout regulation time.

The play clock does not take time off the game clock, but it does increase the length of the game.

Football Overtime

Overtime is an extra quarter used to decide the winner of the game when the game is tied at the end of regulation. Overtime lasts 10 minutes in the NFL, but in NCAA football there is no game clock. In the NFL, there is only one sudden death overtime, meaning the first team to score wins or else the game results in a tie. While in the NCAA, both teams will have a chance to score in each overtime, and overtime will continue until a winner is decided.

IMPORTANT: Contrary to the NFL, the game clock is not used in college football overtime and sudden death does not apply.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about time and clocks in football, check out these following tutorials:


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