The longest NFL game that can take place during the regular season is 75 minutes of total game time. However, since there are no ties allowed in the playoffs, the teams can play much longer than that in the postseason.
Longest NFL game
In overtime, a touchdown wins the game, and a field goal does too if the first possession doesn’t result in any points.
Therefore, to have the longest game time in NFL history, both teams have to struggle offensively in overtime.
Since regular-season games are capped at 75 minutes, only playoff games have a chance to make history. Here are the five biggest NFL game durations ever.
5. Raiders vs Colts: 75 minutes and 43 seconds (1977)
In a Christmas Eve playoff clash between the Raiders and Colts, it would take two overtimes to eventually decide the winner.
Despite having four turnovers, Oakland still had a chance down three late in the fourth quarter. That is when the “Ghost of the Post” play changed the game. Ken Stabler threw a 42-yard dime to Dave “The Ghost” Casper, who made an unbelievable catch to put the Raiders in field goal range.
With the score knotted at 31-31, the game was sent into overtime. It was not until 43 seconds into the second overtime where Stabler threw another perfect ball to Casper. Casper made the catch at the back of the end zone, and the Raiders walked it off in a dramatic fashion.
This game is known for being one of the most exciting and entertaining playoff games in NFL history and is the only one on this list to end in a touchdown.
4. Ravens vs Broncos: 76 minutes and 42 seconds (2013)
Both teams started off strong, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter. After Denver scored to make it 21-14, Baltimore tied it up again right before halftime.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Broncos up seven, Flacco had just over a minute remaining to go 77 yards down the field to force overtime. He only needed 38 seconds, as he threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones to send the game to overtime.
Both teams could not get anything going in the extra frame, as it looked like the game might turn into the longest NFL game ever. That changed when Manning threw his second interception of the game, giving Baltimore great field position.
The Ravens would set up Justin Tucker for a 47-yard field goal, which he knocked through to complete the upset victory.
3. Browns vs Jets: 77 minutes and two seconds (1987)
It was a chilly day in Cleveland when the Browns and Jets faced off in the AFC Divisional round. Cleveland was the big favorite entering the game, having won 13 games in the regular season.
The Jets came out strong, scoring the game’s first touchdown to go up 7-0. After the Browns tied the game up with a touchdown of their own, both teams exchanged field goals to keep the game tied at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, the Jets would score their second touchdown of the game to lead by 10. It looked as though the Jets were on the verge of a huge upset.
The Browns didn’t go down without a fight though, clawing back to tie the game up. With the score tied 20-20, the game went into overtime.
It was in the second overtime where Cleveland kicker Mark Moseley had a 27-yard field goal attempt for the win. Moseley made up for missing three kicks earlier in the game, as the Browns advanced to the AFC Championship game.
2. Texans vs Oilers: 77 minutes and 54 seconds (1962)
Although not the longest NFL game ever, the battle between the Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers in the 1962 AFL Championship is the longest championship game in pro football history.
George Blanda, the Oilers quarterback, struggled against the Texans defense. Although throwing for 261 yards, he had five interceptions. Dallas scored the first 17 points of the game, as it looked like they would cruise to the championship.
Things changed in the second half, as the Oilers started mounting a comeback. They went on to score 17 unanswered as well, sending the game to overtime.
Dallas would eventually settle things down. After remaining scoreless in the first overtime, Tommy Brooker hit a 25-yard field goal in the second, as the Texans became AFL champions.
Read more: Longest NFL postseason droughts
1. Dolphins vs Chiefs: 82 minutes and 40 seconds (1971)
The longest NFL game in history goes to the Dolphins and Chiefs in the 1971 AFC Divisional round.
Kansas City was a three-point favorite entering the game and jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The Dolphins controlled the second quarter, and tied the score at 10 heading into halftime.
After trading touchdowns back and forth in the second half, the game eventually went to overtime tied 24-24. After passing the two-minute and 54-second mark in double overtime, the game broke the record for the longest game time in NFL history.
The game would go on for about another five minutes before Garo Yepremian kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Miami Dolphins the victory.
The official game time of 82 minutes and 40 seconds makes it the longest NFL game in history.