How long is a game of American football?

A game of American football is 60 minutes long, with additional 15 minute quarters if overtime is required. This only applies to the NFL; in college football, there is no time limit for overtime. The game always lasts longer than 60 minutes due to breaks in the action from penalties, reviews, and the allotted time in between quarters. The hour is divided into four 15 minute quarters, making up the first half and the second half of the game.

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Football games take much longer than an hour. Games can typically run two or even three hours in length, 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:

An injury occursA timeout is called2-minute warning

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 running during the overtime period. In the NFL, there is only one sudden death overtime, meaning the first team to score wins or the game will result in a tie.

In the NCAA, both teams will have a chance to score in each overtime, and overtime will continue until a winner is decided.

Key Terms

Here are the key terms to know when it comes to how long an American football game lasts:


Do American football games last an hour?

While the clock runs for an hour during every game, American football games last much longer. Games are typically about three hours long due to multiple stoppages.

Yes, an NFL game can end in a tie if neither team has scored in the allotted overtime period. It is uncommon, but it has happened before.

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The NFL overtime period is 10 minutes long. The period used to be 15 minutes long, but was changed for the 2017 season.