How Long Does a Pro Football Game Last?

By Chris Moore

The regulation time of a pro football games is 60 minutes. But many things can stop the game clock: dead balls, television commercials and timeouts, for example. And then there's the halftime break. All things considered, a game will actually usally last between three and three and a half hours.

Official Time

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

Game Breaks/Halftime

Marching  band at 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

Quarter back throws ball

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/Official Timeouts

Football official signals on field

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

Football player celebrates scoring

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.

Overtime

Fans celebrate a win

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.

References

About the Author

Chris Moore has been contributing to eHow since 2007 and is a member of the DFW Writers' Workshop. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Texas-Arlington.

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