How Long Does a Pro Football Game Last? A Better Answer

Tom Brady

Pro football games ​last around three hours​. The regulation time is 60 minutes, divided into 15 minute quarters. Halftime, after 2 quarters, typically lasts 12 minutes.

A sample of game duration during the 2021 Season:

  • 3:19 Hours
  • 3:06
  • 3:04
  • 3:11
  • 3:09
  • 3:21
  • 3:17
  • 2:47
  • 2:59
  • 3:08
  • 3:09

Why does a NFL game last three hours?

The game clock is stopped often:

  • television commercials
  • timeouts, each team has 3 per half
  • dead balls
  • official reviews
  • two minute break between first and second and then third and fourth quarters

Each play stoppage, immediately after a tackle on the prior play, the play clock starts at 40 seconds.

According to the NFL, there are about 125 offensive plays run during the course of an NFL game.

Official Regulation Time is 60 minutes

The official length of a game is 60 minutes. This time is divided into four 15-minute quarters.

Game Breaks and Halftime

There is a break of two minutes between the first and second quarters as well as the third and fourth quarters. A longer, halftime break occurs between the second and third quarters. Halftime usually lasts 12 minutes, but it can be extended in the playoffs.

Stoppages of Play

Even though one quarter's time limit is 15 minutes, the clock doesn't count down continuously. The clock stops any time an incomplete pass is thrown, a player runs out of bounds, during changes of possession of the ball, and after a team scores.

Team and Official Timeouts

Teams can call a timeout to stop play three times in each half. Officials can stop play for circumstances like player injuries and the need to review certain plays on replay. There is also the two-minute warning: an official timeout with two minutes remaining in each half.

TV Breaks

TV networks will use a stoppage of play to air commercials. Two common times for this are following a score or a kick to the other team. This often doubles the time such a break would usually last, which would be about 30 seconds.

The NFL requires sixteen commercial breaks per game. There are eight commercial breaks per half. Each break lasts either one or two minutes.

Overtime

If the game is tied after regulation, the game continues in "sudden-death" overtime (the game will end the next time a team scores). In the regular season, a game ends in a tie after a maximum of 15 overtime minutes. In the playoffs, the game continues until someone scores, thus winning the game.

2022 update​: The NFL playoff overtime rules have mostly stayed the same, except for one tweak. Overtime games no longer end on a first possession touchdown. Instead, the other team will have a chance to match the touchdown and send the overtime period into sudden death.