Is there overtime in NFL preseason games?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars
Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars / Courtney Culbreath/GettyImages

When a regular season football game ends in a tie, NFL fans are typically left unsatisfied. People don't tune in for three-plus hours to watch neither team win or lose. As a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- a team that had a contest conclude with a tie in 2021 -- I can testify to how disheartening it feels to exit a game this way.

In the regular season, overtime rules allow for an extra inning in which either team could have the opportunity to score. Overtime periods are typically intense and they have the ability to put fans on the edge of their seats. But when it comes to preseason, things work differently.

Is there overtime in NFL preseason games?

Unlike the regular season, preseason games don't typically include overtime sessions. If the contest is tied at the end of regulation, the game is over. While it might not be what fans want, it's what coaches and teams prefer.

Instead of adding injury risk in an overtime period where the final results of the game don't matter, coaches want their team to head home healthy in preparation for the regular season. If you don't see preseason games end in a tie often, there's probably a reason for that.

If it comes down to the wire in the preseason and coaches have a chance to tie the game, you will oftentimes see them go for two after a touchdown or go for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal so that the game doesn't end in a tie. Of course, this doesn't mean that the same coaches will be as aggressive in the regular season, but they are simply hoping to run the clock out at that point and bring their players home healthy.

Preseason is a time to test strategies, build chemistry, and see what you have in young players. With the 17th regular-season game added in 2021, the preseason has been reduced from 4 to 3 games. While the final scores don't matter, this is still an important time for teams to evaluate their players.

Ties in preseason games may leave fans craving more, but in exhibition action, the performances are more important than the final results. Ultimately, the lack of overtime in the preseason comes down to player safety. This isn't a setup that is likely to change anytime soon.