how long is a nfl football game

how long is a nfl football game

How Long is an NFL Football Game?

Football is a fast-paced, action-packed sport and nowhere is that more evident than in the NFL. But with all that going on, knowing how long a game should last is an important part of the experience.


Games can last anywhere from around three hours to more than four, depending on the situation. NFL games are divided into four 15-minute quarters, and most games have a 12-minute halftime show. If a game is tied after regulation, there is usually a two-minute break before an overtime period starts.

Play Time

The average NFL play lasts about four seconds and there are usually between 120 and 150 plays per game. This means that the actual play time for an NFL game is between 30 and 40 minutes. The other two to three hours is made up of time between plays and the various stoppages in the game.


The game is often stopped between plays for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Penalties: This might include unsportsmanlike conduct, offsides, holding, or pass interference. Depending on the severity of the penalty, it can add several minutes to the game.
  • Injuries: If a player gets injured, the game will be stopped until he can be either tended to or taken off the field.
  • Challenges: Coaches can challenge the ruling on the field and a replay review might add a few minutes to the game.

All these stoppages, combined with the time it takes to get out of a timeout huddle, add up to a considerable amount of time to the game.


All in all, an NFL football game is expected to take anywhere from three to four hours. Knowing how long a game should last can help to make the game-watching experience even more exciting and enjoyable.



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