Quirky Research
ListsFootball ListsReader Mail: Overtime and the Longest Drives in NFL History

Reader Mail: Overtime and the Longest Drives in NFL History

What happens if an NFL team receives the kickoff to start overtime, then uses the entire 15-minute overtime period before kicking a field goal as time expires?  Does the game go into a second overtime so that the other team has a chance to score, or is the game over?

It depends when the game takes place.  In the preseason or regular season, the game would end with the team kicking the field goal winning; in the playoffs, the game would go into a second overtime with the other team getting an opportunity to possess the ball.

Rules that apply:

16-1-3-a

Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner, or if the team kicking off to start the overtime period scores a safety on the receiving team’s initial possession, in which case the team that kicked off is the winner.

16-1-4-a

The following shall apply to overtime games in the preseason and regular season … There shall be a maximum of one 15 10-minute period, even if the second team has not has an opportunity to possess the ball or its initial possession not ended.  If the score is tied at the end of the period, the game shall result in a tie.

16-1-5-a

The following shall apply to overtime games in postseason … If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.

Notes:

  • To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a 15-minute drive in NFL history.
  • The longest drive in NCAA history lasted 14 minutes and 26 seconds:  Navy (of course) vs. New Mexico in the 2004 Emerald Bowl.
  • Beginning in the 2017 season, regular-season and preseason overtime will be one 10-minute period.

Longest NFL drives by time, 1982-2017

Team Date Opponent Drive
Length
Plays-Yards Start Time Start LOS Result Score 
before drive
Final
Tennessee Oilers 11/27/97
THANKSGIVING
Dallas 13:27 21-90 8:11 3Q Own 9 Field Goal 24-14 W 27-14
N.Y. Giants 1/14/01
NFC CHAMP
Minnesota 12:53 19-53 12:53 4Q Own 20 End of Game 41-0 W 41-0
New England 12/12/82 Miami 12:42 19-79 2:19 1Q Own 20 Missed FG 0-0 W 3-0
Atlanta 12/30/90 Dallas 12:39 19-74 7:33 3Q Own 20 Field Goal 16-0 W 26-7
Houston Oilers 10/22/89 Pittsburgh 12:33 17-73 12:57 1Q Own 27 Touchdown 0-0 W 27-0
L.A. Raiders 11/18/84 Kansas City 12:31 21-75 2:38 3Q Own 20 Field Goal 14-0 W 17-7
Miami 1/1/12 N.Y. Jets 12:29 21-94 7:56 3Q Own 6 Touchdown 6-10 W 19-17
Jacksonville 9/21/08 Indianapolis 12:18 18-82 14:51 4Q Own 14 Field Goal 17-14 W 23-21
San Francisco 9/25/88 Seattle 12:17 18-85 1:24 3Q Own 15 Touchdown 31-7 W 38-7
Kansas City 11/13/88 Cincinnati 12:15 22-87 14:12 2Q Own 8 Field Goal 6-7 W 31-28
L.A. Raiders 12/24/94 Kansas City 12:14 22-86 4:16 1Q Own 2 Field Goal 0-7 L 19-9
New England 12/27/09 Jacksonville 12:12 20-73 12:41 4Q Own 20 Downs 35-7 W 35-7
Atlanta 10/13/85 Seattle 12:07 19-89 4:11 1Q Own 3 Field Goal 0-7 L 30-26
Minnesota 11/3/85 Detroit 12:07 19-79 9:18 1Q Own 12 Field Goal 0-3 W 16-13
San Francisco 12/30/02 St. Louis Rams 12:07 20-81 15:00 1Q Own 18 Field Goal 0-0 L 31-20
Cleveland 12/27/15 Kansas City 12:01 20-61 5:27 3Q Own 20 Field Goal 10-17 L 17-13
Cincinnati 12/16/01 N.Y. Jets 12:00 20-81 13:56 1Q Own 19 Touchdown 0-0 L 15-14
Tampa Bay 11/4/07 Arizona 11:59 19-86 8:46 3Q Own 6 Missed FG 17-3 W 17-10
Chicago 11/20/94 Detroit 11:54 20-71 12:46 3Q Own 23 Field Goal 10-10 W 20-10
Seattle 10/11/09 Jacksonville 11:53 16-52 11:53 4Q Own 26 End of Game 41-0 W 41-0
San Diego 12/8/91 Kansas City 11:52 18-80 11:15 1Q Own 20 Touchdown 0-0 L 20-17 (OT)
Oakland 12/16/07 Indianapolis 11:49 20-99 14:55 2Q Own 1 Touchdown 0-10 L 21-14
Jacksonville 9/23/07 Denver 11:44 18-80 9:53 1Q Own 20 Touchdown 0-0 W 23-14
New Orleans 11/20/88 Denver 11:43 18-97 14:50 4Q Own 3 Touchdown 35-0 W 42-0
Houston Oilers 9/12/93 Kansas City 11:40 18-80 10:33 1Q Own 20 Touchdown 0-0 W 30-0
Minnesota 9/21/08 Carolina 11:34 19-75 5:41 3Q Own 11 Field Goal 17-10 W 20-10
Atlanta 11/3/91 San Francisco 11:30 18-75 4:53 3Q Own 25 Touchdown 0-7 W 17-14

 

Similar Articles

5 thoughts on “Reader Mail: Overtime and the Longest Drives in NFL History

  1. Did you not read anything? If the game is regular season then the game ends, if it is postseason then the second team gets a possession.

  2. I could swear I remember the Chargers playing the Dolphins in the 80's having a drive that was easily 13 plus minutes long, I do not see that here. Is my memory incorrect?

  3. The longest drive in any of the six Chargers-Dolphins games (including playoffs) in the 80's lasted 10 minutes, 6 seconds.

    It was memorable in that:
    1) the 1984 Dolphins were 11-0 at the time;
    2) the drive began with the Chargers down 7 with 10:57 left in the 4th quarter and ended the Chargers scoring the tying touchdown with just 51 seconds left;
    3) the Dolphins didn't have enough time to drive the field, missing a 44-yard field goal as regulation expired;
    4) the Chargers won the toss in overtime and drove for the winning touchdown.

Leave a Reply

Top