Overtime (sports)

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Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are same. In most sports, this extra period is only played if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination tournaments where only one team or player can advance to the next round or win the tournament. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.

The rules of overtime or extra time vary between sports and even different competitions. Some may employ "sudden death", where the first player or team who scores immediately wins the game. In others, play continues until a specified time has elapsed, and only then is the winner declared. If the contest remains tied after the extra session, depending on the rules, the match may immediately end as a draw, additional periods may be played, or a different tiebreaking procedure such as a penalty shootout may be used instead.

The terms "overtime" and "in overtime" (abbreviated "OT" or "IOT") are primarily used in North America, whereas the terms "extra time" and "after extra time" (abbreviated "a.e.t.") are used in other continents.

Association football

Knock-out contests (including professional competition)

In association football knock-out competitions or competition stages, teams play an extra 30 minutes, called extra time, when the deciding leg (or replay of a tie) has not produced a winner by the end of regulation or full-time. Extra time is governed by the rules of the tournament, rather than the laws of the game. It follows a short break where players remain on or around the field of play and comprises two straight 15-minute periods, with teams changing ends in between.

In a one-off tie or deciding replay, level scores nearly always go to extra time. In games played over two legs (such as the UEFA Champions League or World Cup qualification intercontinental play-offs), teams only play extra time in the second leg where the aggregate score – then normally followed by an away goals rule – has not produced a winner first. Ties in the English FA Cup used to be decided by as many replays as necessary until one produces a winner within normal time, rather than have any extra time (and/or shootout), though nowadays replays are limited to just the one, with the second going to extra time if teams are still level. Equally, CONMEBOL has historically never used extra time in any of the competitions it directly organises, such as the Copa Libertadores (today, it uses extra time only in the final match of a competition). The score in games or ties resorting to extra time are often recorded with the abbreviation a.e.t. (after extra time), usually accompanying the earlier score after regulation time.

Ties that are still without a winner after extra time are usually broken by kicks from the penalty spot, commonly called a penalty shootout. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, many international matches tried to reduce this by employing the golden goal (also called "sudden death") or silver goal rules (the game ending if a team has the lead after the first 15-minute period of extra time), but competitions have not retained these.

U.S. collegiate rules

All matches that remain tied after ninety minutes have an overtime period. A sudden death golden goal rule is applied, with the game ending as soon as an overtime goal is scored. If neither team scores in the two ten-minute halves, the match ends in a draw unless it is a conference or national championship tournament match. A playoff game tied after two overtime periods then moves to a penalty kick shoot-out with the winner determined by the teams alternating kicks from the penalty mark.

U.S. high school rules

High school rules vary depending on the state and conference, but most will have a sudden-death overtime procedure wherein the game ends upon scoring a golden goal, although in some instances the overtime will go until completion with the team in the lead after time expires (i.e., silver goal rules) declared the winner. The overtime period length may vary, but it is commonly 10 minutes long. Depending on the state, if the game is still tied at the end of the first overtime:

  • As many additional overtime periods – golden or silver goal rules – may be played as needed to determine a winner.
  • After one or more overtime periods result in the score remaining tied, a shootout procedure may be played. In a shootout, the coaches and/or team captains select five players to shoot penalty kicks, with teams alternating kicks from the penalty mark in an attempt to put the ball into the net. The procedure continues until each team has taken five kicks, or if one side has scored more successful kicks than the other could possibly reach with its remaining kicks.
  • If both teams make the same number of successful penalty kicks after all eligible players have taken their first kick, the procedure repeats; the teams are not required to follow the same order of kickers as was used for the first kick, and may replace one or more of the original kickers. The procedure repeats until one side has successfully converted more penalty kicks in a set of five attempts.
  • Depending on the state or conference, the game may go directly to a penalty shoot-out, rather than playing overtime.

American and Canadian football

Major American professional leagues

See also List of NFL tied games.

The NFL introduced overtime for any divisional tiebreak games beginning in 1940, and for championship games beginning in 1946. The first postseason game to be played under these rules was the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants (the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played").

In 1974 the NFL adopted sudden death overtime for regular season and preseason games. If the score is tied after regulation time has expired, an additional 15-minute period is played. The captains meet with the officials for a coin toss, and then one side kicks off to the other, as at the start of a game. Under the original regular season format used through 2011, the first team to score during the extra period won the game. Additionally, during regular season games, fourth quarter timing rules were in effect throughout the period, including a two-minute warning if necessary. In the regular season, if the overtime period was completed without either side scoring, the game ended in a tie.

Because there cannot be a tie in the playoffs, the teams would switch ends of the field and start multiple 15-minute overtime periods until one side scored, and all clock rules were as if a game had started over. Therefore, if a game was still tied with two minutes to go in double (or quadruple) overtime, there would be a two-minute warning (but not during the first overtime period as in the regular season). If it was still tied at the end of double overtime, the team that lost the overtime coin toss would have the option to kick or receive, or to choose which direction to play; at the end of the fourth overtime, there is a new coin toss, and play continues.[1]

The longest NFL game played to date is 82 minutes, 40 seconds in the 1971–72 NFL playoffs on Christmas Day 1971 (the Chiefs' last-ever game at Municipal Stadium); Miami kicker Garo Yepremian kicked a 37-yard field goal 7:40 into the second overtime. The longest game in all modern American professional football is 93 minutes, 33 seconds in a 1984 United States Football League playoff game, also using the true sudden death rule, in which the Los Angeles Express defeated the Michigan Panthers 27–21.

As a consequence of the 1974 rule changes, the number of tie games dropped dramatically. Only 20 NFL games have ended in a tie since then, and just 7 since 1990. The most recent was on 12 October 2014 when the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals fought to a 37-all tie.

Scoreless ties were common in the early years of the NFL, but none has happened since 1943, in part due to innovations added by Hugh "Shorty" Ray to encourage more scoring.

In March 2010, the NFL amended its rules for postseason overtime after a vote by the team owners, with the rule being extended into the regular season in March 2012. If the team that receives the kickoff scores a touchdown; or if the defense scores a touchdown or safety on its first possession, it is declared the winner. If it scores a field goal on its first possession, however, it then kicks off to the opposing team with an opportunity to score; if the score is tied again after that possession, true sudden death rules apply and whoever scores next is declared the winner. If both teams are still tied after the OT there will be another overtime period played, and that procedure is repeated until a winner is declared, except for a regular season game, which would simply end in a tie. There were no overtime games in the 2010 posteason, so the first overtime game played after the implementation of this rule came in the wild-card round in 2011. Incidentally, this was also the shortest overtime in NFL history; Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kicked off and the ball went out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a touchback and no time off the clock. Tim Tebow, then with the Denver Broncos, threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play to Demaryius Thomas to give the Broncos the win in only 11 seconds.[2] In 2012 the new rules were extended to the regular season. The first time the rules were enforced occurred on 9 September 2012, the first week of the season, in a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Minnesota's Blair Walsh kicked a 38-yard field goal on the Vikings' first drive. When Jacksonville regained possession, they failed to gain a first down, losing possession and the game on a failed fourth-down conversion. The first overtime where both teams scored occurred on 18 November 2012, in a game between the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, won by the Texans 43–37 after both teams scored field goals to start the overtime period. The first overtime game to end in a tie where both teams scored in overtime occurred on 24 November 2013, when the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers played to a 26-all tie.

The Arena Football League and NFL Europe used a variant in which each team is guaranteed one possession. Whoever is leading after one possession wins the game; if the teams remain tied after one possession, the game goes to sudden death. This procedure was used by the United Football League in its inaugural 2009 season.[3]

The short-lived World Football League, for its inaugural 1974 season (the same year the NFL established sudden death in the regular season), used a fifteen-minute quarter of extra time, divided into two halves.

The New York Pro Football League, a 1910s-era league that eventually had several of its teams join the NFL, used the replay to settle ties in its playoff tournament. The replay was used in the 1919 tournament to decide the championship between the Buffalo Prospects and the Rochester Jeffersons had played to a tie on Thanksgiving; Buffalo won the replay 20–0 to win the championship.

College, high school, and Canadian football

In college (since the 1996 season) and high school football, as well as the Canadian Football League, an overtime procedure is used to determine the winner. This method is sometimes referred to as a "Kansas Playoff", or "Kansas Plan" because of its origins for high school football in that state. A brief summary of the rules:

  • A coin toss determines which side shall attempt to score first, and at which end zone the scores shall be attempted.
  • Each team in turn will receive one possession (similar to innings in baseball), starting with first-and-10 from a fixed point on the opponent's side of the field:
    • In college football, the possession begins at the opponent's 25-yard line.
    • Under standard high school football rules, the possession begins at the 10-yard line. However, the rulebook allows state associations to use different yardage; the 15, 20, and 25-yard lines are variously used.
    • In the CFL, where a single point can be scored on a punt, the possession begins at the 35-yard line.
  • The game clock does not run during overtime, but the play clock is enforced.
  • A team's possession ends when it scores (touchdown or field goal), misses a field goal, or turns over the ball (either on downs or by the defense otherwise gaining possession).
  • As usual, a touchdown by the offense is followed by a try for one or two points. In NCAA football, starting in triple overtime, teams must attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown. Since 2010, CFL teams must also attempt the two-point conversion after any touchdown in overtime.
  • In college football, the defense may score a touchdown on a play on which it gains possession by turnover; such a play will satisfy the condition of each team having a possession and will therefore end the game. In high school football, the defense is generally not allowed to score if it gains possession, although the Oregon School Activities Association adopted the college rule experimentally in 2005, and the University Interscholastic League of Texas, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association use NCAA football rules. If scoring is not allowed or the turnover play does not end with a score, regardless of the eventual position of the ball at the end of the play, the team assumes offense and will begin their procedure from the specified position on the field.
  • Each team receives one charged time-out per overtime period (except in the CFL).
  • If the score remains tied at the end of the first overtime period, multiple overtime periods are played. The team with the second possession in one overtime will have the first possession in the next overtime.
  • In the CFL there is a limit of two overtime procedures in regular-season games, and if the scores are still level, the game is a tie, but in playoff games, overtime periods are continued until a winner is determined.
  • In American college and high school football, the overtime periods are continued until a winner is determined.

On two occasions, just two plays were required to determine an overtime winner in an NCAA football game: on 26 September 2002, when Louisville defeated Florida State 26–20, and on 27 September 2003, when Georgia Tech defeated Vanderbilt 24–17.

It is possible for a college game to end after a single play in overtime if the team on defense secures a turnover and returns it for a touchdown: on 9 September 2005, Ohio defeated Pittsburgh 16–10 on an 85-yard interception return by Dion Byrum on the third play of overtime. It is also possible for the defense to get a safety on the first play of overtime (which would also end the game), but this would require the offense to lose 75 yards on the play, which is extremely unlikely, and has never happened in FBS.

As of 2011, the Missouri Tigers have competed in the most overtime college football games, totalling 14.[4]


The short-lived XFL used a modified Kansas Playoff, where the series would start on the 20-yard line and have four downs to score. However, if the first team to play overtime scored a touchdown in less than four downs, the second team would have to score in just as many plays (for instance, if the first team scored a touchdown on three downs, the second team would only have three downs to score a touchdown). Neither team could kick a field goal until the fourth down (a rule imposed to prevent teams from turning the overtime period into the equivalent of a penalty shootout). Although such a scenario never happened in the league's short life, the XFL rules did not explain what would happen should a turnover occur and the set of four downs end prematurely. Rather than a coin toss, the winner of the opening scramble at the beginning of the game also got to choose to go first or second in overtime.


In basketball, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play, the teams play multiple five-minute overtime periods. In levels below collegiate/Olympic play, an overtime period is half the length of a standard quarter, i.e., four minutes for high school varsity. 3x3 (originally FIBA 33), a formalized version of the halfcourt three-on-three game, uses an untimed overtime (the former FIBA 33 rules called for two-minute periods).[5] The alternating possession rule is used to start all overtime periods under international rules for full-court basketball,[6] while a jump ball is used under high school and NCAA rules, with the arrow reset based on the results of the jump ball to start each overtime. The National Basketball Association and the WNBA, which uses a quarter-possession rule to start periods after the opening jump, also uses a jump ball.[7][8][9] In 3x3, whose current rules do not allow for a jump ball at any time in the game, the first possession in overtime is based on the result of a pregame coin toss; the winner of the toss can choose to take possession of the ball either at the start of the game or at the start of a potential overtime.[5] The entire overtime period is played; there is no sudden-death provision. The only exception is in 3x3, in which the game ends once either team has scored 2 points in overtime, with baskets made from behind the "three-point" arc worth 2 points and all other successful shots worth 1 point.[5] All counts of personal fouls against players are carried over for the purpose of disqualifying players (except in 3x3, where individual foul counts are not kept, but team foul counts are). If the score remains tied after an overtime period, multiple overtime periods are played.

As many as six overtime periods have been necessary to determine a winner in an NBA game.[10]

In exhibition games (non-competitive play), it is upon the discretion of the coaches and/or organizers if an overtime is to be played, especially if it is a non-tournament game (a one-off event).

Starting in the 2009–10 season, Euroleague Basketball, the organizer of the Euroleague and Eurocup, introduced a new rule for two-legged ties that eliminated overtime unless necessary to break a tie on aggregate. The rule was first used in the 2009–10 Eurocup quarterfinals (which consist of two-legged ties), although no game in that phase of the competition ended in a regulation draw.[11] Euroleague Basketball extended this rule to all two-legged ties in its competitions, including the Euroleague, in 2010–11. One game in the qualifying rounds of that season (the only phase of the Euroleague that uses two-legged ties), specifically the second leg of the third qualifying round tie between Spirou Charleroi and ALBA Berlin, ended in a draw after regulation. No overtime was played in that game because Spirou had won the first leg. Although other competitions use two-legged ties at various stages, the Euroleague Basketball competitions are the only ones known to use overtime only if the aggregate score after the second game is tied.

Ice hockey

Ties are common in ice hockey due to the game's low-scoring nature. If the score is tied at the end of regulation play, certain leagues play overtime.

  • NHL (regular season): If a game is tied after regulation time (three 20-minute periods), the teams play in a sudden death five-minute overtime period, with a goaltender and three skaters per side (as opposed to the standard five).[12] If regulation time ended while a power play was in progress, the team with the advantage will start overtime with more than three skaters (almost always four, very rarely five), and maintain its advantage for the duration of the penalty if no one scores. If nobody scores in the overtime period, the teams engage in a "penalty shootout" where 3 skaters, selected by the head coaches on the teams, go one-on-one against the opposing goaltender, taking the puck at center ice for a "penalty shot."[13] If the shootout remains tied after the initial 3 rounds, the shootout continues in a sudden-death fashion; no player may participate in a shootout twice unless the entire active roster (excluding the backup goaltender) has been exhausted.[13] The greatest number of shooters in a single shootout was 40 during a game between the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. Panthers player Nick Bjugstad gave Florida a 2–1 shootout and game victory on a trick move.
The 5-minute overtime period was introduced for regular season games beginning with the 1983–84 NHL season, but with teams at full strength on the ice.[14] Overtime in the regular season was reduced to four skaters a side starting in the 2000–2001 season.[14] The "shootout" was introduced for the 2005–06 NHL regular season.[14] Previously, ties during the regular season were allowed to stand if not resolved in overtime. Starting in the 2015-16 season, overtime was reduced to three skaters a side.
  • NHL (post-season):[15] Following an intermission, multiple full 20-minute periods are played. Teams remain at full strength unless this is affected by penalties during the third period. A goal ends the game in sudden death; if neither team scores, another intermission is taken, followed by an additional overtime period. The teams change ends of the ice for each period. This has made for lengthy games in the history of the NHL playoffs, with some games going as far as five or six overtimes before the deciding goal is scored.[16]
  • NCAA (regular season): If a game is tied at the end of regulation, the teams play a sudden-death 5-minute overtime. Both teams play at full strength, unless affected by penalties. If neither team scores during overtime, the game ends in a tie.
  • NCAA (in-season tournaments): For tournaments held during the season (such as the Beanpot and Great Lakes Invitational), in which advancement or determination of a champion is necessary, organizers have the option of either using the post-season overtime procedure or using the regular-season procedure followed by a penalty shootout. Statistics from a shootout are not counted by the NCAA, and a game decided by a shootout is considered a tie for NCAA tournament selection purposes.
  • NCAA (post-season): Same as the NHL overtime procedure above, except that overtimes are played with the teams defending the ends of the ice that they would as if they were starting over, and repeat that pattern every three periods. Games decided in overtime are considered wins or losses rather than ties, regardless of how many overtimes are played.
  • International (round robin): As of the 2007 IIHF World Championships, the IIHF instituted the "three point rule", which not only awarded the winning team three points for a regulation win, but awarded them two points for a win in a 5-minute overtime period or a Game Winning Shot (shootout). Games in IIHF round robins can therefore no longer end in a tie. In the World Cup of Hockey in 2004, the NHL's tiebreaking procedure at the time was followed: there was a five-minute sudden death period at four skaters per side, and if the score remained tied after the overtime period, it stood as a tie. The game between Sweden and Finland ended in a 4–4 tie after 65 minutes.
  • International (medal rounds): Various tiebreaking procedures have been used for international tournaments, with all of them save one (World Cup of Hockey 2004) following a common theme: one period varying in length of sudden-death overtime followed by a shootout of five skaters (since 2010, 3) per side (as opposed to the NHL's three skaters per side originally; it also differs in that if the shootout does not resolve the tie, the same five skaters [now 3] then shoot again). The length of the overtime period has varied between 5, 10, and 20 minutes, and 5-on-5 and 4-on-4 formats have been used. The most recent format used was at the 2010 Olympics (particularly in the gold medal game); there were 20 minutes of 4-on-4 followed by a shootout. In 2006, it was 20 minutes of 5-on-5. All men's games ended in regulation during the medal rounds, while the women's semifinal between the United States and Sweden required a shootout to determine the winner. At the World Cup of Hockey in 2004, the NHL's postseason tiebreaking procedure was used (multiple 20-minute periods of 5-on-5 until a goal is scored). The only overtime game in the playoff round was the semifinal between the Czech Republic and Canada. Canada won 4–3 with a goal 2 minutes and 16 seconds into the first overtime period.


When a tie needs to be broken in handball, two straight 5-minute overtimes are played. If the teams are still tied after that, two more straight 5-minute periods are played. If the teams are still tied after that, there takes place a penalty shootout.

Baseball and softball

Baseball and softball are unique among the popular North American team sports in that they do not use a game clock. However, if the regulation number of innings are complete (normally nine in baseball and seven in softball) and the score is even, the game continues for as many extra innings as are needed to determine a winner. Complete innings are played, so if a team scores in the top half of the inning, the other team has the chance to play the bottom half of the inning. The longest professional baseball game ever played, a 1981 minor league baseball game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings required 33 innings and over eight hours to complete. The Red Wings had scored in the top half of the 21st inning, but Pawtucket tied the game in the bottom half, extending the game.

Major League Baseball games normally only end in a tie if the match is called off due to weather conditions. In the early decades of baseball (up to the 1920s), a game could also be called off due to nightfall, but this ceased to be a problem once stadiums began installing lights in the 1930s. Two Major League Baseball All-Star Games have ended in a tie; the second 1961 game was called due to rain with the teams tied 1-1 after the ninth inning, and the 2002 game was called after the eleventh inning after both teams had exhausted their supply of pitchers.

The exceptions to this are in Nippon Professional Baseball, Chinese Professional Baseball League, and the Korea Baseball Organization, where the game cannot go beyond 12 innings (15 in NPB playoffs). Since 2011 the NPB also has a game time limit of 3½ hours during the regular season; ties are allowed to stand in the regular season and postseason ties are resolved in a full replay, extending a series if necessary. Extra innings are not played in KBO doubleheaders' first game.

Rugby league

Rugby league games in some competitions are decided using overtime systems if scores are level at full-time (80 minutes). One overtime system is golden point, where any score (try, penalty goal, or field goal) by a team immediately wins the game. This entails a five-minute period of golden point time, after which the teams switch ends and a second five-minute period begins. Depending on the game's status, a scoreless overtime period ends the game as a draw, otherwise play continues until a winner is found.

Rugby union

In the knockout stages of rugby competitions, most notably the Rugby World Cup, two full-length extra time periods of 10 minutes each are played (with an interval of 5 minutes in between) if the game is tied after full-time. If scores are level after 100 minutes, the rules call for a period of sudden-death extra time to be played. Originally, this sudden-death period was 20 minutes, but is now 10 minutes. If the sudden-death extra time period results in no scoring a kicking competition is used to determine the winner.

However, no match in the history of the Rugby World Cup has gone past 100 minutes into a sudden-death extra time period.

Rugby sevens

In the sevens variant of rugby union, extra time is used only in knockout stages of competitions, such as the World Rugby Sevens Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens. Extra time begins one minute after the end of full-time, and is played in 5-minute periods. Unlike the 15-man game, extra time in sevens is sudden-death, with the first score winning the match. If no team has scored at the end of a period, the teams change ends and another period immediately begins.

Other sports

  • In Australian rules football, drawn matches during a season remain as draws; extra time is generally played only in finals matches. There are several different ways this can occur. In the Australian Football League finals, two extra time periods lasting five minutes each (plus time on) are played in full if a finals match is drawn; but, the AFL Grand Final is decided by a full replay if the match is drawn, with extra time is played if the replay is also drawn.[17] In some competitions, if scores are level at the end of the final quarter, the siren is not blown and play continues under sudden death rules until the next score; the 2013 VFL reserves Grand Final was a notable match decided in this manner.[18]
  • In Gaelic football and hurling, two halves of ten minutes are played after a draw. In major Gaelic football tournaments, multiple sudden death periods of this procedure will continue until one team scores, which wins them the match.
  • In futsal matches, two overtime periods of 5 minutes each are played, with teams changing ends in between. If the teams are still tied after the overtime, there takes place a penalty shootout.
  • In water polo, if the score is tied at the end of regulation play the game goes to penalty shootouts. In college play teams play two straight 3-minute periods, and if still tied multiple 3-minute golden goal periods are played.
  • If a game of curling is tied at the end of its prescribed number of rounds (called ends), extra ends are played until there is a winner.
  • Ties are allowed to stand in most forms of cricket, but Twenty20 cricket provides for tiebreaker procedures should a winner be necessary (such as in tournament settings): a limited extra session called a Super Over. Some One Day International tournaments (including the 2011 World Cup) have also introduced the super over. Other competitions have used a bowlout.
  • In netball matches, two straight 7-minute periods of extra time are played, with teams changing ends in between (with no break between periods). If the scores are still tied after the overtime, the match continues uninterrupted. Whoever is up two goals will be the winners. This is known as double overtime should a match end this way. All ANZ Championship matches (2008–2014), ANZ Championship finals (since 2015), Commonwealth Games finals and World Netball Championships finals implement this tiebreaker to ensure a winner.
  • In touch football under the Federation of International Touch structure, finals matches that are drawn at full-time progress into an extra time period known as a "drop-off". During a drop-off, each team reduces their on-field playing strength by one player every two minutes, until teams are down to three players. Both teams must have had possession of the ball before a result can be declared.

Longest games

American football

  • Six National Football League playoff games have gone into a second overtime, the longest being an AFC divisional playoff game on 25 December 1971. The Miami Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 27–24 at 7:40 into the second overtime (at 82:40 of total play, the longest game in NFL history). The length of the game, coupled with the fact that it was played on Christmas Day, led to a great deal of controversy and the league placed an 18-year moratorium on Christmas games.[19] The most recent 2OT NFL game came in an AFC divisional playoff game on 12 January 2013, with the Baltimore Ravens defeating the Denver Broncos 38–35 on a field goal at 1:42 in the second overtime.
  • In the former American Football League, the championship game played on 23 December 1962, the Dallas Texans defeated the Houston Oilers 20–17 on a 25-yard field goal at 2:54 into the second overtime. (This game, along with all other AFL games, were incorporated into the NFL record books following the 1970 merger of the two leagues.)
  • The former United States Football League had a triple-overtime playoff game on 30 June 1984, with the Los Angeles Express defeating the Michigan Panthers 27–21 on a walk-off touchdown 3:33 into the third overtime. At 93:33 of total play, this is the longest professional football game ever played in the United States.
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I FBS, formerly Division I-A): Three games have gone to seven overtimes. On 3 November 2001, the Arkansas Razorbacks beat the Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels 58–56 in seven overtimes; the game had been tied 17–17 after end of regulation. On 1 November 2003, Arkansas beat the Kentucky Wildcats 71–63, also in seven overtimes; the score was tied 24–24 at the end of regulation. On 7 October 2006, the North Texas defeated FIU 25-22 in a game that had been tied 16-16 at the end of regulation.
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I FCS, formerly Division I-AA) – 27 September 1998: Bethune-Cookman University recorded a 63–57 victory over Virginia State University, ending in the eighth overtime (180 minutes of total play).
  • High school – 29 October 2010: Jacksonville High School (TX) defeated Nacogdoches High School (TX) by a score of 84-81 after 12 overtimes (192 minutes of total play). Nacogdoches could have won in earlier overtime periods, but needed a win by 8 points to keep its postseason hopes alive and so they intentionally forced additional overtime periods rather than win by fewer than 8 points.

Association football

  • In the past, some football competitions also allowed successive extra times, before the use of penalty shootouts. The decision of the Campeonato Pernambucano de Futebol de 1977, which ended with the victory of Sport on Náutico during the fourth extra time of 15 minutes each, resulting in a game of 158 minutes duration.
  • The 1922 Final for the German Championship between Hamburger SV and 1.FC Nürnberg had to be broken off after 189 minutes at 2-2 because the coming dusk made play impossible. The rematch seven weeks later was also broken off in overtime at a standing of 1-1 due to Nürnberg being unable to field more than seven players (with the rules of the time substitutions were not allowed[20]).
  • The 1982 and 1985 NCAA Division I men's soccer finals both went to the 8th (10-minute) period of extra time before being decided, lasting into the 160th and 167th minutes respectively.[21][22]
  • In Game 1 of the 1971 North American Soccer League playoffs semifinal (best of three series) between the Dallas Tornado and the Rochester Lancers, league scoring champion Carlos Metidieri of Rochester mercifully ended the match in the 6th overtime at the 176th minute, less than four minutes shy of playing two complete games. Seven days later in Game 3, the two teams also played a 4-OT, 148 minute match with Dallas winning this time. Incredibly, only four days after that, Dallas lost Game 1 of the NASL Championship Series in the 3rd OT to Atlanta in the 123rd minute. All totaled, Dallas played 537 minutes of football (3 minutes short of six games) in 13 days' time.[23]



Ice hockey

  • NHL – 23 March 1936: The Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1–0 in the 6th overtime and after a total of 116:30 minutes had been played in overtime.[16]
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I, men's) – 6 March 2015: In a Hockey East men's first round, UMass beat Notre Dame 4–3 in quintuple overtime, after 151:42 minutes of play. Yale University @ Union College & Quinnipiac University @ Union College also extended 5 overtimes.
  • Collegiate (NCAA Division I, women's) – 10 March 1996: In the ECAC women's championship game, New Hampshire defeated Providence 3–2 in the 5th overtime, after 145:35 minutes of play.
  • High School (Ohio High School Athletic Association)- The 2014 state championship game between Sylvania Northview (OH) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (OH) ended in a 1-1 tie after 7th (8 minute) overtime period by mutual agreement, mostly due to concerns over player safety.[24] In response, all tournaments since 2015 allow a limit of five overtime periods, with 4-on-4 play starting on the 2nd overtime period, and a 3-player shootout commencing after all periods were played.[25] In terms of number of periods, the 1977 North Dakota state high school hockey championship game between Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River, tied 1-1 after regulation, went eight scoreless five-minute overtime periods. Officials, citing player safety concerns, stopped play after the eighth overtime and declared the teams co-champions.[26]


Rugby league

The longest rugby league game at senior level is 104 minutes, during the 1997 Super League Tri-series final between NSW and QLD. Normal game time is 80 minutes, but with scores level a further 20 minutes was played. When the scores remained level after 100 minutes, golden point extra time was invoked, a Noel Goldthorpe field goal decided the game after 104 minutes.[27]


Length is in minutes unless otherwise specified.

Sport Competition Length in minutes Percent of length Number of extra periods allowed Sudden death? If still tied at the end of the overtime period(s) Applicable to
Overtime period Entire match
American football NFL regular season 15 60 25% 1 Modified sudden death The match will end in a tie. All matches
NFL playoffs Until a winner is produced Modified sudden death Another overtime period will be played.
NCAA football
Untimed N/A Until a winner is produced Each team has one possession In the CFL, games end in a tie after two overtime procedures during the regular season. In the NCAA and the CFL playoffs, another overtime procedure is played.
Association football universal 30 90 33% 1 (divided into 2 halves) Only during penalty shootouts The match will proceed to a best-of-5 penalty shootout, then sudden death penalty shootouts if still tied. Decisive matches only
Basketball NBA preseason 5 48 10% Until winner is determined Rarely used Another overtime period will be played. Following the first overtime period, future overtime periods can be sudden death due to time constraints (but only during preseason games and Summer League games). Competitive matches only
NBA regular season/playoffs No
FIBA 3x3 Untimed 10 N/A 1 Yes A tie at the end of overtime is impossible. An overtime in 3x3 will end once either team has scored 2 points in overtime, equal to one basket from behind the "three-point" arc or any combination of two regular baskets and free throws.
NFHS 4 32 13% Until a winner is produced No Another overtime period is played.
NCAA basketball
FIBA World Cup
5 40 13%
Ice hockey NHL regular season 5 60 8% 1 Yes The match will proceed to a 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime period, then sudden-death shootouts if still tied. Competitive matches only
NHL Stanley Cup playoffs 20 60 33% Until a winner is produced Yes Another overtime period will be played. All matches
Team handball universal 10 60 17% 2 (each divided into two halves) Only during penalty shootouts The match will proceed to sudden-death penalty shootouts. Certain matches only
Rugby league Certain leagues 10 80 13% 1 (divided into two halves) No Either the match will end in a draw, or another overtime period will be played. Certain matches only
Rugby sevens universal 5 14[a 1] 36%[a 2] Until a winner is produced Yes Another overtime period will be played. Decisive matches only
Rugby union universal 20 (first)
10 (second)
80 25% (first)
13% (second)
2 (first period divided into two halves) Only during second extra time period If the match remains tied after the first 20 minutes of extra time, 10 minutes of sudden-death extra time are played. If still level, the match will proceed to a kicking competition. Decisive matches only
  1. 20 minutes in the championship match of a competition
  2. 25% of regular time in competition finals

See also

  • Tiebreaker
  • Green–white–checker finish, the procedure used in motorsport to add extra laps if a Safety Car situation is in effect when the race has reached the scheduled lap count.
  • Replay (sports), a procedure in some sports to resolve a tied game in which a game is played from the beginning, with the original match discarded.


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