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Double Overtimes and the NFL Playoff Overtime Rules

Differences between NFL regular season and postseason playoff rules:

Regular Season Postseason
Number of periods 1 unlimited
Length of periods 10 minutes 15 minutes
Timeouts per team 2 3 per 2-period “half”
Timing rules 4th quarter 1st quarter for 1st overtime, etc.
If the 1st overtime ends with the teams still tied … The game ends in a tie. 2-minute break, switch sides of field typical of a 2nd quarter
If time expires in the 1st overtime when the first possession ends in a field goal … The game ends with the score at that point. The game continues into a 2nd overtime.
If the 2nd overtime ends with the teams still tied … What’s a 2nd overtime? 2-minute “halftime”, kickoff typical to start of a 2nd half
If the 4th overtime ends with the teams still tied … Seriously, a 4th overtime? 2-minute intermission, new coin toss, and follow typical procedures for 1st overtime

NFL Double Overtime Games

Winner Loser Date Final Score Total OT length Notes
Dallas Texans Houston Oilers 12/23/1962
AFL CHAMP
20-17 17:54 “We’ll kick to the clock.”
Miami Dolphins Kansas City Chiefs 12/25/1971
AFC DIV
27-24 22:40 Longest game in NFL history
Oakland Raiders Baltimore Colts 12/24/1977
AFC DIV
37-31 15:43 Ghost to the Post
Cleveland Browns New York Jets 1/3/1987
AFC DIV
23-20 17:02 Browns came back from 10 down in final 4:14 of regulation.
Carolina Panthers St. Louis Rams 1/10/2004
NFC DIV
29-23 15:10 Rams came back from 10 down in final 6:29 of regulation.
Baltimore Ravens Denver Broncos 1/12/2013
AFC DIV
38-35 16:42 Ravens tied score with 0:30 left in regulation.

Home teams in italics.

The longest game in professional history was a 1984 USFL playoff game between the Michigan Panthers and Los Angeles Express that ended 3 minutes, 33 seconds into triple overtime.

Photo: Baltimore Ravens

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