I have attempted to search for this answer before, but often end up getting answers akin to the longest distance a drive has taken between goal lines, hence the answer is something like 99 yards. However, this answer and those like it are to a different question.

My question is as follows, with consideration for penalty yards, what is the longest drive ever in the NFL? To clarify:

  • If on 1st down the offense were to commit a 15 yard personal foul, they'd lose 15 yards and then the new 1st down yardage would become 1st and 25. Then;
  • If on the 1st and 25 attempt, defensive holding were to occur, the defense committed a holding penalty, there would be a 5 yard penalty as well as an automatic 1st down.

If the above series of penalties were to occur when the ball started on the Offense's 40-yard line, the resultant would be 1st and 10 starting on the Offense's 30-yard line. Effectively, if the offense were to drive down the field they would have to go 10 yards further.

  • This is technically possible to find the answer to, but it's probably functionally impractical; it's not something tracked, as far as I know, so you'd have to literally go through every play by play for every game from (whenever you wanted to start looking). NFL doesn't have as many games as other sports, so less insane, but that's still a lot of games. If your Python, R, or SAS skills are decent, though, I could probably show you how to get started.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 16:39


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.