1974 NFL season
|Duration||September 15, 1974, - December 15, 1974|
|Start date||December 21, 1974|
|AFC Champions||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC Champions||Minnesota Vikings|
|Super Bowl IX|
|Date||January 12, 1975|
|Site||Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Date||January 20, 1975|
|Site||Miami Orange Bowl|
|National Football League seasons
The 1974 NFL season was the 55th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl IX when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings. Players held a strike from July until August prior to the regular season beginning.
Major rule changes
The following changes were adopted to add tempo and action to the game (and to help counter the proposed changes announced by the World Football League to their games):
- One sudden death overtime period (15 minutes) was added to all preseason and regular season games; if no team scored in this period, the game would result in a tie. This rule was enacted to decrease the number of tie games. The first ever regular season overtime, a September 22 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos, ended in a 35–35 draw. It was not until November 10, when the New York Jets defeated the New York Giants, 26–20, that an overtime game would produce a winner.
- Goal posts: moved from the goal line to the end line, where they were in 1932. This was to reduce the number of games being decided on field goals, and to increase their difficulty, as well as to reduce the risk of player injuries.
- Missed field goals: The defensive team takes possession of the ball at the line of scrimmage or the 20-yard line, whichever is farther from the goal line. (In 1994, that reference to the line of scimmage was changed to the kick spot, which is usually 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.) Notice that the 20-yard line is where the defense takes possession after a touchback.
- Kickoffs: moved to the 35-yard line (from the 40-yard line) to reduce touchbacks, promoting more excitement with kickoff returns. In 1994, the kickoff would be moved farther back, to the 30-yard line, where it would stay until it was moved back to the 35 for the 2011 season.
- Punt returns: members of the kicking team cannot go beyond the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked, except the player at the farthest end of each side of the snapper. The original rule change would have prohibited any player from crossing the line of scrimmage prior to the ball being kicked.
- An eligible pass receiver can only be contacted once by defenders after the receiver has gone 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
- When the defensive team commits an illegal use of hands, arms, or body foul from behind the line of scrimmage, the penalty will be assessed from the previous spot instead of the spot of the foul.
- The penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of hands, and tripping were reduced from 15-yards to 10-yards.
- Wide receivers blocking back towards the ball within three yards from the line of scrimmage may not block below the waist.
Starting in 1970, and until 2002, there were three divisions (Eastern, Central and Western) in each conference. The winners of each division, and a fourth "wild card" team based on the best non-division winner, qualified for the playoffs. The tiebreaker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents records, and conference play.
National Football Conference
|1||St. Louis, Washington, Dallas||1-0-0||Chicago, Minnesota||1-0-0||Los Angeles, San Fran.||1-0-0||4 teams||1-0-0|
|2||St. Louis||2-0-0||Minnesota||2-0-0||Los Angeles, San Fran.||2-0-0||Los Angeles, San Fran.||2-0-0|
|3||St. Louis||3-0-0||Minnesota||3-0-0||Los Angeles, San Fran.||2-1-0||4 teams||2-1-0|
|4||St. Louis||4-0-0||Minnesota||4-0-0||Los Angeles||3-1-0||Philadelphia||3-1-0|
|5||St. Louis||5-0-0||Minnesota||5-0-0||Los Angeles||3-2-0||Philadelphia||4-1-0|
|6||St. Louis||6-0-0||Minnesota||5-1-0||Los Angeles||4-2-0||Philadelphia||4-2-0|
|7||St. Louis||7-0-0||Minnesota||5-2-0||Los Angeles||5-2-0||Washington||4-3-0|
|8||St. Louis||7-1-0||Minnesota||6-2-0||Los Angeles||6-2-0||Washington||5-3-0|
|9||St. Louis||7-2-0||Minnesota||7-2-0||Los Angeles||7-2-0||Washington||6-3-0|
|10||St. Louis||8-2-0||Minnesota||7-3-0||Los Angeles||7-3-0||Washington||7-3-0|
|11||St. Louis||9-2-0||Minnesota||7-4-0||Los Angeles||8-3-0||Washington||8-3-0|
|12||St. Louis||9-3-0||Minnesota||8-4-0||Los Angeles||9-3-0||Washington||8-4-0|
|13||St. Louis||9-4-0||Minnesota||9-4-0||Los Angeles||9-4-0||Washington||9-4-0|
|14||ST. LOUIS||10-4-0||MINNESOTA||10-4-0||LOS ANGELES||10-4-0||WASHINGTON||10-4-0|
American Football Conference
|1||Buffalo, New England||1-0-0||Pittsburgh, Houston, Cincinnati||1-0-0||Kansas City||1-0-0||Denver, Kansas City, San Diego||1-0-0|
|2||New England||2-0-0||Pittsburgh||1-0-1||Oakland*||1-1-0||8 teams||1-1-0|
|3||New England||3-0-0||Cincinnati||2-1-0||Oakland*||2-1-0||3 teams||2-1-0|
W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
wild card berth, - clinched division title- clinched
|New England Patriots||7||7||0||.500||348||289|
|New York Jets||7||7||0||.500||279||300|
|Kansas City Chiefs||5||9||0||.357||233||293|
|San Diego Chargers||5||9||0||.357||212||285|
|y-St. Louis Cardinals||10||4||0||.714||285||218|
|New York Giants||2||12||0||.143||195||299|
|Green Bay Packers||6||8||0||.429||210||206|
|y-Los Angeles Rams||10||4||0||.714||263||181|
|San Francisco 49ers||6||8||0||.429||226||236|
|New Orleans Saints||5||9||0||.357||166||263|
- New England finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better record against common opponents (5–4 to Jets' 4–5).
- Houston finished ahead of Cincinnati in the AFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Kansas City finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on better record against common opponents (4–6 to Chargers' 3–7).
- St. Louis finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.
|Divisional Playoffs||Conf. Championship Games||Super Bowl IX|
|December 22 - Three Rivers Stadium|
|December 29 - Oakland Coliseum|
|December 21 - Oakland Coliseum|
|January 12 - Tulane Stadium|
|December 22 - L.A. Coliseum|
|December 29 - Metropolitan Stadium|
|Los Angeles Rams||19|
|Los Angeles Rams||10|
|December 21 - Metropolitan Stadium|
|St. Louis Cardinals||14|
|Most Valuable Player||Ken Stabler, Quarterback, Oakland|
|Coach of the Year||Don Coryell, St. Louis Cardinals|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Ken Stabler, Quarterback, Oakland|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Joe Greene, Defensive End, Pittsburgh|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Don Woods, Running Back, San Diego|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Jack Lambert, Linebacker, Pittsburgh|
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- 1974 season in details
- NFL History 1971-1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)