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Games are taking longer this year

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Perhaps Jon Gruden was on to something when he complained that all the reviews of scoring plays would delay games this year.

NFL games are taking two minutes and 28 seconds longer this year so far compared to the average of the 2010 season.  It’s “only” one minute and 29 seconds longer than the first seven weeks of last year.

The average game now takes three hours, six minutes, and 58 seconds.  (In fairness, that’s three hours less than the average Yankees-Red Sox game.)

There are a lot of theories about why games are taking longer. The simplest reason: Scoring is up.  That sounds about right.

There have been more plays reviewed this year, but the number isn’t a huge jump.  Through Week 7 this season, there were 164 replay reviews, up from 152 last year. The average time per-review has actually decreased 13 seconds, from 2:40 to 2:27.

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52 Responses to “Games are taking longer this year”
  1. raiderguy10 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:14 PM

    Longer games = more time on Sunday spent watching football. What’s the problem?

  2. klunge says: Oct 27, 2011 2:16 PM

    Thanks to increased officiating ineptitude.

  3. 1captain1 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:16 PM

    A pass happy NFL is behind this due to little time being run off on passing plays and incompletions.

    Loosen up the illegal contact enforcement and let defenses play and the running game will return.

    That will then speed the game up as the clock runs.

  4. madtolive5 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:17 PM

    Flags…Refs take to long to make any call and there are more of them.

    The conferences last longer, the explanations are longer and there are more things to flag.

  5. lottsmissingfinger says: Oct 27, 2011 2:17 PM

    Not too be too much of a conspiracy theorist but 2.5 minutes, the average length of a commercial break.

  6. ecnasty says: Oct 27, 2011 2:17 PM

    Well that explains my extra beer consumption.

  7. renaissanceman6 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:20 PM

    More time to check my fantasy team’s score.

  8. rmm1984 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:20 PM

    Flags on every incomplete pass surely doesn’t speed the game up.

  9. alltee says: Oct 27, 2011 2:20 PM

    it could take 30 minutes longer and fans wouldnt care if the refs were always making the right calls,

    2 instant replay challenges for penalties per game!!!

  10. cfmaguire9 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:21 PM

    Another possible explanation is that teams are using a pass-heavy offense. With teams running the ball less (which keeps the clock moving), teams are passing more and one incomplete pass stops the clock.

    However, the increased scoring and reviews of scoring plays appears to be the main reason and what I said is just another factor.

  11. jimmymcnultysbottleofjameson says: Oct 27, 2011 2:22 PM

    Just means one more super cold Coors Light at the bar on Sunday.

  12. jcstoddard says: Oct 27, 2011 2:22 PM

    more commercials, TD reviews, and flags flags flags

  13. tomtravis76 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:24 PM

    Getting the correct calls is most important. People invest so much time into football, whats an extra few minutes to have the games turn out properly?

    The league should be investing more into officials to review every down, it doesn’t have to stop the flow, but if a ref sees something from the review booth, stop the game and get the correct call. Use some of what college does, there is no reason why the NFL should get any call wrong.

    There is just way too much money involved from some many different avenues. Just make sure the right team wins. Too much technology to make mistakes on judement calls.

  14. mike83ri says: Oct 27, 2011 2:24 PM

    Passing is up too, and incomplete passes stop the clock.

  15. laeaglefan says: Oct 27, 2011 2:24 PM

    They’ll have to start moving the late games from 4:15 to 4:30 so the first few minutes of play won’t be missed by the viewing audience, waiting for the early games to be completed….followed by the obligatory commercials.

  16. njdevil7 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:25 PM

    i mean, i would be okay if they played fewer commercials

  17. seneca1ss says: Oct 27, 2011 2:26 PM

    Reason #99 to stay home and watch several games

  18. vikesfansteve says: Oct 27, 2011 2:28 PM

    Stop having commercials after the TD, then after the extra point, then after the kickoff.

  19. mvpolamalu says: Oct 27, 2011 2:28 PM

    I thought i was the only one who thought penalties were up, guess not

  20. crip2nite says: Oct 27, 2011 2:28 PM

    So what! The only people who are complaining about pass heavy offenses are fans of losing teams!

  21. Burritto says: Oct 27, 2011 2:30 PM

    Who are these weirdos wishing NFL games would get over more quickly?

  22. comeonnowguys says: Oct 27, 2011 2:32 PM

    Goodell should fine networks that follow this sequence:

    TD
    —(official review commercial)
    Result of official, Extra Point
    —(commercial)
    Kickoff
    —(commercial)
    First play of next drive

  23. balewsquare says: Oct 27, 2011 2:34 PM

    I was just having this discussion…how many commercials can they add until viewers turn it off? As much as ads scratch at my soul, I’d probably allow 3X as many as long as I could watch some football.

  24. The Phantom Stranger says: Oct 27, 2011 2:37 PM

    As a Viking fan, I think the games are 30 minutes too long.

  25. nineroutsider says: Oct 27, 2011 2:39 PM

    As long as I have the RedZone to skip all of the commercials…its all good. Any full game I watch, like the Niners, SNF, etc. I DVR and blast through the commercials and anything else I don’t like like long reviews, etc. I just start watching them 30 minutes later and pause them to bbq, deal with the job/wife, etc. I still don’t miss a second of action though and miss all of the crap.

    Thank god I had the DVR last Monday night game as I pretty much fast forwarded through 2.5 quarters. That time has to be a section of your life that most of you would want want back.

  26. bleedgreen says: Oct 27, 2011 2:42 PM

    I have noticed that commercials are down a little bit too. It used to be score, PAT, commercial, kickoff, commercial, next drive. I’ve seen multiple times now where there are no commercials between a score and the next drive starting. I kind of enjoy it. Also seen breaks skipped after a punt return and the next drive starting.

  27. row60 says: Oct 27, 2011 2:48 PM

    Games have gone from 3:04:30 to 3:06:58 and I’m supposed to think that’s a big deal? I’d prefer a faster-paced game, but we’re talking about a change of less than 1 minute per hour.

  28. shackdelrio says: Oct 27, 2011 2:57 PM

    “Perhaps Jon Gruden was on to something when he complained that all the reviews of scoring plays would delay games this year.”

    Scoring plays was something Gruden didn’t have to worry about much when he was in Tampa.

  29. riverhorsey says: Oct 27, 2011 2:58 PM

    Takes them half a lifetime to review a play

  30. pack13queens0 says: Oct 27, 2011 3:03 PM

    NFL games are still shorter than baseball games.

  31. packers291 says: Oct 27, 2011 3:08 PM

    Is the increase in time statistically significant? If not, then this increase in time is due to chance alone, and there is no real need for explanation.

    Given the relatively small sample size (about a hundred games so far), I’d bet that this increase in time per game is due to nothing more than chance.

  32. cmstrick says: Oct 27, 2011 3:10 PM

    More passing. Incomplete passes stop the clock. I’ll guarantee that the reason behind the longer games, not the reviews.

    And, longer football games = good thing.

  33. wtfchiefs says: Oct 27, 2011 3:10 PM

    This is probably due to the fact the NFL doesn’t allow defense anymore

  34. kbtegp says: Oct 27, 2011 3:14 PM

    It’s not the reviews. 164 reviews at 2:27 each is almost 4 minutes less than 152 review at 2:40 per.

  35. flyguy53 says: Oct 27, 2011 3:15 PM

    Consequence of the 5 yard rule change on kick off.

    The number of touchback’s are up, pushing back avg. starting field position, increasing passing and offensive yards, and increasing the time of games.

    Worse field position gives more opportunities for yards, and stoppage of time.

  36. tunescribe says: Oct 27, 2011 3:16 PM

    Three hours and 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time for a football game. So somehow they need to figure out how to add another 12 minutes and 32 seconds.

  37. sf49erguy says: Oct 27, 2011 3:17 PM

    I’m fine with games going as long as possible. I get one game a week an it can’t last long enough. and if it’s such a s huge problem eliminate a few of the tv timeouts.

  38. sophandros says: Oct 27, 2011 3:38 PM

    Teams are, on average, throwing ONE more pass per game than last year.

    I guess that’s “pass happy”…

  39. castleofcheese says: Oct 27, 2011 3:40 PM

    Two and half more minutes of football to watch per game. That’s cool with me.

  40. ice90 says: Oct 27, 2011 3:40 PM

    It just feels longer when you are listening to horrible analysis from Jon Gruden.

  41. damnyoulinelliot says: Oct 27, 2011 3:50 PM

    Games sure are longer this year if you’re a Colts or Dolphins fan

  42. thridandlong says: Oct 27, 2011 3:55 PM

    And the wife has things for me to do 24 hours a day….your point is ?!?!

  43. shogun69 says: Oct 27, 2011 4:18 PM

    Two and a half more minutes of football? Who is being kidded? At any and every break, another mind numbing commercial is shown, so its more likely 2.5 minutes of beer advertising. Besides, the average football game has about 10 minutes of real action, where something is actually happening on the field. The rest of the time they are standing around, and you are watching 3 replays of an incomplete pass, listening to the talking heads and their “expert” analysis, followed by 10 more brainless commercials. Yeah, thats great entertainment.

  44. firstclasspack says: Oct 27, 2011 4:26 PM

    I’d like to know what the average time per game spent on commercials is compared to last year. I’ll bet you can account for some if not all of the extra time there.

  45. jimr10 says: Oct 27, 2011 4:54 PM

    Well, Goodell said fans wanted longer games.

  46. jonasgrumbyoftx says: Oct 27, 2011 5:24 PM

    Well of course. VERY few kickoff returns so the clock isn’t running. That’s probably 3-5 “plays”e, on average, that don’t take place anymore.

    They killed the kickoff.

  47. terrellochouno says: Oct 27, 2011 5:27 PM

    Could it be that they seem to go to commercial before & after every other play? Naaaah, that can’t be it.

  48. Deb says: Oct 27, 2011 5:37 PM

    Are there stats on the quality of officiating? I’d like to know whether we have any substantive data showing the new system has resulted in fewer blown calls. Given the controversies involving the new Red Zone challenge rules, I doubt it. What the NFL needs is to implement a review system more like the NCAA’s, to have two review officials in the booth, to pare down the rulebook, and to have more agile and better trained officials on the field. When is Goodell going to seriously address these issues?

  49. dudeicle says: Oct 27, 2011 7:59 PM

    since when can you stuff 2 minutes of commercials in a 30 second timeout? And how long does it really take to get the punt/return teams off the field when it only took them a few seconds to get on the field? And what’s up with a 2 minute commercial break before AND after each kickoff?

  50. Topher says: Oct 27, 2011 8:16 PM

    Am I supposed to be upset about more football?

    Please, put me in front of the couch an extra two minutes rather than raking the leaves!

  51. mmejia1 says: Oct 27, 2011 9:29 PM

    I think the reason games are taking longer is because quaterbacks are passing more. More passes mean more dropped passes, which mean the clock stops more. Therefore I think the reason for longer games is the NFL becoming a passing league. If you aren’t throwing for 300+ yards a game, then you are an average QB. The NFL has been mostly a running league in the past.

  52. bjtmeyer says: Oct 27, 2011 11:10 PM

    Longer games = more food = fat

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