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The Longest Game in NFL History Lasted Over 7 Hours
Screenshot from YouTube

Fans were blessed in 2020 to get the rare opportunity to watch an NFL game on Christmas Day.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara rushed for an NFL record six touchdowns during the holiday clash against the Minnesota Vikings, but that might not even be the craziest record set during a December 25 game.

Back in 1971-72 during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins, the vying teams set a record for the longest game in NFL history.

Longest NFL Game

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The Chiefs-Dolphins clash was just the second double-overtime game in the history of the NFL at the time. The Chiefs jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead via a field goal and touchdown pass, but the Dolphins scored 10 points of their own in the second quarter, courtesy of a receiving touchdown from tight end Marv Fleming, knotting the game up at halftime.

Each team added a touchdown in the the third quarter, and the game ended up in a 24-24 deadlock after the Dolphins tied the game via a touchdown with merely 1:25 left on the game clock in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs had an opportunity to put the game to bed in regulation, but kicker Jan Stenerud whiffed a close-range field goal, sending the matchup to overtime.

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Kickers once again came up short in overtime, with both Stenerud and Garo Yepremian failing to convert on a 42-yard and 52-yard field goal, respectively.

The teams fought on, and midway through the second overtime frame Yepremian knocked home a game-winning field goal from 37 yards out, clinching a Dolphins victory and sending Miami to the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Colts.

The Dolphins disposed of the Colts and clinched a Super Bowl berth, though they were defeated by the champion Dallas Cowboys.

In all, this game lasted more than seven hours and required 82 minutes of game time to reach its conclusion.

Star Players in the Game

There were some marquee names in the 1971 matchup between KC and Miami. The most notable of the bunch was star running back Ed Podolak, who enjoyed a monster game despite the loss, racking up 85 rushing yards, eight receptions for 110 receiving yards, over 150 yards on kickoff returns and two punt returns.

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There were also a handful of Hall of Famers in the game. Miami’s roster boasted the likes of linebacker Nick Buoniconti, running back Larry Csonka, quarterback Bob Griese, center Jim Langer, right guard Larry Little, wide receiver Paul Warfield, and, of course, legendary head coach Don Shula.

On the side of Kansas City were linebackers Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell, defensive tackles Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp, quarterback Len Dawson, Sterenud, cornerback Emmitt Thomas, as well as Hall of Fame owner Lamar Hunt and head coach Hank Stram.

Other Double Overtime Games

This incredibly long game was the second of its kind, with only one game prior ever reaching double overtime. The first time a game went to double overtime was 1962 in a matchup between the Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers.

The next double overtime game came in 1977 between the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Colts, with Oakland squeaking out a 37-31 victory after just 43 seconds into the second OT.

In 1987, the Cleveland Browns thwarted the New York Jets 23-20 in a game that required two minutes of double OT.

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In January of 2004, the NFC’s Carolina Panthers required double overtime to take down the St. Louis Rams, 29-23, though only 10 seconds were off the clock in 2OT.

The most recent example of a double overtime exploit occurred in 2013, a playoff clash between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos, which the Ravens won 35-38.

Due to the NFL’s regular season overtime rules differing from that of the playoffs, all of the aforementioned games occurred in the postseason.

Could you imagine if those legendary Super Bowl games between Tom Brady’s New England Patriots and Eli Manning’s New York Giants went into double overtime?

With the 2020-21 NFL playoffs here, fans will be hoping for another of these historic games. Perhaps Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans can answer the call and force double overtime against a fellow AFC playoff squad.

MORE: The Longest Punt in NFL History Went for a Ridiculous 98 Yards

Karl Rasmussen is a sports writer living in Brooklyn, NY. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon and is an avid fan of the Oregon Ducks, Portland Trail Blazers, New York Yankees and New York Jets.
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