Nov 25, 2015 5:46 PM

Despite fewer reviews, NFL games running longer

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) If any fans are planning to serve their Thanksgiving meal after an NFL game, don't bother rushing the turkey to the table games are stretching out longer.

The NFL always aims for games to last about three hours. Through 11 weeks of this season, the average time of game has been 3 hours, 9 minutes, 26 seconds. In 2014, the average game was 3:05:46 over the same period.

Don't blame that extra 3 minutes, 40 seconds on the weather, more commercials, extended halftimes, more overtime games or even more replay reviews.

The league says reviews have actually gone down, but they are taking longer. That's one reason for the longer games, along with other referee discussions many not involving replay and major injuries.

Video reviews this year are down to 266 from 273 a year ago. But more calls have been overturned: 113 this year compared to 97 at this stage last season.

The average length of review has been 41 seconds in 2015. Yet the delays for those reviews can extend another 1 1/2 minutes because many times a television timeout starts during a review.

With 1.66 stoppages for an instant replay review per game, the delay per game works out to about 3:45 in real time. The NFL says 34 of 160 games (21 percent) have had no stoppages for instant replay reviews.

A year ago, the average number of stoppages for a review per game was 1.70 for the entire season, slightly higher than the 11-week pace of 2015. Overall, 40 of 256 games had no stoppages for the 2014 season.

In college, where every play is reviewable, game clocks stop on first downs, and scoring is higher than in the pros, the NCAA says the average length of a game is 3:22. That is the longest since 2005, when it was 3:21.

So far this season, 86.1 percent of FBS games have had a replay review in the video booth. But only 2.1 percent have required an actual stoppage of play. A mere .65 calls have been reversed in 693 games through Tuesday.

Football has not been in the spotlight concerning length of games in recent years the way baseball has. Major League Baseball instituted rules to speed up the game this year.

Baseball video reviews came into existence for widespread challenges in 2014, when the average length of games stretched to 3:02. This season, it was down to 2:56.

The average length of time for video review in baseball in 2015 was 1:51.


AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this story.


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