1971 NFL season

The 1971 NFL season was the 52nd regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl VI when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Pro Bowl took place on January 23, 1972, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the NFC beat the AFC 26–13.

1971 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 19 – December 19, 1971
Playoffs
Start dateDecember 25, 1971
AFC ChampionsMiami Dolphins
NFC ChampionsDallas Cowboys
Super Bowl VI
DateJanuary 16, 1972
SiteTulane Stadium,
New Orleans, Louisiana
ChampionsDallas Cowboys
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 23, 1972
SiteLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum
1971 NFL season is located in the United States
Colts
Colts
Patriots
Patriots
Bills
Bills
Dolphins
Dolphins
Jets
Jets
Bengals
Bengals
Browns
Browns
Oilers
Oilers
Steelers
Steelers
Broncos
Broncos
Chiefs
Chiefs
Raiders
Raiders
Chargers
Chargers
AFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, DeepPink pog.svg Central, Green pog.svg East
1971 NFL season is located in the United States
Cowboys
Cowboys
Giants
Giants
Eagles
Eagles
Cardinals
Cardinals
Redskins
Redskins
Bears
Bears
Lions
Lions
Packers
Packers
Vikings
Vikings
Falcons
Falcons
Rams
Rams
Saints
Saints
49ers
49ers
NFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, DeepPink pog.svg Central, Green pog.svg East
The Cowboys playing against the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

DraftEdit

The 1971 NFL Draft was held from January 28 to 29, 1971 at New York City's Belmont Plaza Hotel. With the first pick, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Jim Plunkett from Stanford University.

New officialsEdit

Three referees--Walt Fitzgerald, Bob Finley and George Rennix--retired following the 1970 season. Bob Frederic, Dick Jorgensen and Fred Wyant were promoted to fill those vacancies. Rich Eichhorst, a back judge in 1970, resigned to concentrate on officiating college basketball; he was replaced by Don Orr, who officiated in the league through 1995.

Major rule changesEdit

  • Teams will not be charged a time out for an injured player unless the injury occurs inside the last two minutes of a half or overtime (since 1974).
  • Missed field goal attempts which cross the goal line can be run back. Previously, only those which fell short of the goal line could be returned; those which broke the plane of the goal line resulted in an automatic touchback.

Division racesEdit

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, record against common opponents, and records in conference play. More tiebreakers were provided in 1971 because, in 1970, reversing just one game’s outcome would have led to a coin toss between Dallas and Detroit for the NFC wild card berth.

National Football ConferenceEdit

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 3 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 3 teams 1–0–0
2 2 teams 2–0–0 Chicago 2–0–0 Atlanta 1–0–1 2 teams 2–0–0
3 Washington 3–0–0 4 teams 2–1–0 San Francisco 2–1–0 5 teams 2–1–0
4 Washington 4–0–0 Chicago* 3–1–0 Los Angeles 2–1–1 3 teams 3–1–0
5 Washington 5–0–0 Minnesota* 4–1–0 Los Angeles 3–1–1 Detroit 4–1–0
6 Washington 5–1–0 Minnesota 5–1–0 Los Angeles 4–1–1 4 teams 4–2–0
7 Washington 6–1–0 Minnesota 6–1–0 San Francisco 5–2–0 Chicago 5–2–0
8 Washington 6–1–1 Minnesota 6–2–0 San Francisco 6–2–0 Detroit 5–2–1
9 Washington 6–2–1 Minnesota 7–2–0 San Francisco 6–3–0 Chicago* 6–3–0
10 Dallas 7–3–0 Minnesota 8–2–0 Los Angeles 6–3–1 Washington* 6–3–1
11 Dallas 8–3–0 Minnesota 9–2–0 San Francisco 7–4–0 Washington* 7–3–1
12 Dallas 9–3–0 Minnesota 9–3–0 Los Angeles 7–4–1 Washington 8–3–1
13 Dallas 10–3–0 Minnesota 10–3–0 San Francisco 8–5–0 Washington 9–3–1
14 Dallas 11–3–0 Minnesota 11–3–0 San Francisco 9–5–0 Washington 9–4–1

American Football ConferenceEdit

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 2 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 San Diego 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0
2 Miami 1–0–1 Cleveland 2–0–0 Oakland* 1–1–0 6 teams 1–1–0
3 Baltimore 2–1–0 Pittsburgh* 2–1–0 Oakland* 2–1–0 2 teams 2–1–0
4 Baltimore 3–1–0 Cleveland 3–1–0 Oakland* 3–1–0 Kansas City 3–1–0
5 Baltimore 4–1–0 Cleveland 4–1–0 Oakland* 4–1–0 Kansas City 4–1–0
6 Miami 4–1–1 Cleveland 4–2–0 Oakland* 5–1–0 Kansas City 5–1–0
7 Miami 5–1–1 Cleveland 4–3–0 Oakland* 5–1–1 Kansas City 5–1–1
8 Miami 6–1–1 Cleveland* 4–4–0 Oakland 5–1–2 Baltimore 6–2–0
9 Miami 7–1–1 Cleveland* 4–5–0 Oakland 6–1–2 Baltimore 7–2–0
10 Miami 8–1–1 Cleveland* 5–5–0 Oakland 7–1–2 Kansas City 7–2–1
11 Miami 9–1–1 Cleveland 6–5–0 Oakland 7–2–2 Baltimore 8–3–0
12 Miami 9–2–1 Cleveland 7–5–0 Kansas City 8–3–1 Baltimore 9–3–0
13 Baltimore 10–3–0 Cleveland 8–5–0 Kansas City 9–3–1 Miami 9–3–1
14 Miami 10–3–1 Cleveland 9–5–0 Kansas City 10–3–1 Baltimore 10–4–0

Final standingsEdit

TiebreakersEdit

  • New England finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better point differential in head-to-head games, 13 points.

PlayoffsEdit

Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation of division winners. Had the playoffs been seeded, the divisional round matchups would have been #3 Cleveland at #2 Miami and #4 wild card Baltimore at #1 Kansas City in the AFC; #4 wild card Washington at #1 Minnesota and #3 San Francisco at #2 Dallas in the NFC.
Dec 26 – Candlestick Park
WC Washington 20
Jan 2 – Texas Stadium
West San Francisco 24
NFC
West San Francisco 3
Dec 25 – Metropolitan Stadium
East Dallas 14
NFC Championship
East Dallas 20
Jan 16 – Tulane Stadium
Cent. Minnesota 12
Divisional playoffs
NFC Dallas 24
Dec 26 – Cleveland Stadium
AFC Miami 3
Super Bowl VI
WC Baltimore 20
Jan 2 – Miami Orange Bowl
Cent. Cleveland 3
AFC
WC Baltimore 0
Dec 25 – Municipal Stadium
East Miami 21
AFC Championship
East Miami 27**
West Kansas City 24


AwardsEdit

Most Valuable Player Alan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Coach of the Year George Allen, Washington
Defensive Player of the Year Alan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the Year John Brockington, Running back, Green Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year Isiah Robertson, Linebacker, Los Angeles

Coaching changesEdit

OffseasonEdit

In-seasonEdit

Stadium changesEdit

Uniform changesEdit

  • The Atlanta Falcons switched their primary jerseys from black to red
  • The Chicago Bears adopted a second white jersey with block numbers
  • The New York Jets wore a modified white jersey in the first half of the season which did not have green stripes over the shoulders
  • The Oakland Raiders switched from silver to black numbers on their white jerseys
  • The San Francisco 49ers added alternate jerseys with no striping or TV numbers for hot games

ReferencesEdit

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1971–1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)