Quick work: 49ers-Redskins is NFL's shortest game in nearly a decade

Eric Edholm

For all the talk about endless replays, shaky officiating and countless commercial breaks making the NFL an unwatchable product, we just had one of the quickest games in recent league history in Week 7.

The San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins didn’t extend the misery on a cool, wet day that ended with the Niners running their record to a perfect 6-0 in the 9-0 victory.

Consider this a solid to the fans at FedExField, who didn’t exactly witness an instant classic. The paid attendance on Sunday will go into the annals officially as 61,459 patrons, but there appeared to be far fewer actual living humans in the stands. You can understand why for a game between the surprising 49ers, who traveled three time zones, and the hapless Redskins in their first game after registering their first victory of the season.

San Francisco 49ers offensive guard Mike Person walks on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
San Francisco guard Mike Person was a mess during the 49ers' 9-0 victory against Washington. (AP)
Oct 20, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson (30) is tackled by Washington Redskins linebacker Cole Holcomb (55) while carrying the ball in the fourth quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Niners running back Jeff Wilson can't get traction as he's tackled by Redskins linebacker Cole Holcomb. (USA TODAY Sports)

The teams combined to run 103 plays — 41 by the Redskins! — and 70 of them were either runs or sacks. That’s how you get the clock to keep running. Another way is by having a game with only 12 incomplete passes.

Additionally, there were only nine penalties in the game. The league average entering Sunday of Week 7 was 14.8 combined per game, per nflpenalties.com.

Both teams also had unused timeouts left in their pockets at game’s end — a serious hat tip to the head coaches, Kyle Shanahan and Bill Callahan, for not extending the misery. Good work all around, everyone.

How short is this? Well, we had an overtime game between the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions — a tie, no less — approach the four-hour mark in Week 1 (3:58) and one between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers approach that four-hour threshold (3:51) in regulation. We’ve had 15 games so far this season last more than three hours, per Pro Football Reference.

So if you’re a Redskins fan, you can complain about the quality of the team’s product. Or, if you’re a bright-side person, maybe you realize that the pain was rather quick by NFL standards and a chance to dry off at home sooner than normal.

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