1972 NFL season
The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League. The Miami Dolphins became the first (and to date the only) NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
|Duration||September 17 – December 17, 1972|
|Start date||December 23, 1972|
|AFC Champions||Miami Dolphins|
|NFC Champions||Washington Redskins|
|Super Bowl VII|
|Date||January 14, 1973|
|Site||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum|
|Date||January 21, 1973|
|Site||Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas|
Major rule changesEdit
- The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved 10¾ feet closer to the center of the field, to 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines. Since the 1945 season, they had been 20 yards from the sideline (40 feet apart). The hashmarks are now 18½ feet apart (the same width as the goalposts), cutting down on severe angles for short field goal attempts, and nearly eliminating the short-side fields for the offense.
- With the hashmarks now the same width as the goalposts, a team punting from inside its 15-yard line could snap the ball from a spot even with the marked field numbers instead of the hashmarks to avoid the punt hitting the goalpost.
- If a legal receiver goes out of bounds, either accidentally or forced out, and returns to touch or catch the pass in bounds, the penalty is a loss of down (but no penalty yardage will be assessed).
- If a punt or missed field goal crosses the receivers' goal line, a member of the receiving team may advance the ball into the field of play. Previously, the ball was dead when a scrimmage kick crossed the goal line and the receivers were awarded an automatic touchback.
- All fouls committed by the offensive team behind the line of scrimmage will be assessed from the previous spot.
- Tie games, previously ignored in computing of winning percentage, were made equal to a half-game win and a half-game loss.
Referee Jack Vest, the referee for Super Bowl II, the 1969 AFL championship game and 1971 AFC championship game, was killed in a June motorcycle accident. Chuck Heberling was promoted from line judge to fill the vacancy and kept Vest's crew intact. Heberling's line judge vacancy was filled by Red Cashion, who was promoted to referee in 1976 and worked in the league through 1996, earning assignment to Super Bowl XX and Super Bowl XXX.
Starting in 1970, and until 2002, there were three divisions (East, Central and West) 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 ConferenceEdit
|1||Dallas, St. Louis, Washington||1–0–0||Detroit, Green Bay||1–0–0||Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles||1–0–0||St.L, Wash., Atl., San Fran., Green Bay||1–0–0|
|2||Dallas, Washington||2–0–0||Minnesota||1–1–0||Los Angeles||1–0–1||Dallas, Washington||2–0–0|
|3||Washington||2–1–0||Detroit, Green Bay||2–1–0||Atlanta, San Francisco||2–1–0||3 teams||2–1–0|
|4||Washington||3–1–0||Detroit*||3–1–0||Los Angeles||2–1–1||2 teams||3–1–0|
|5||Washington||4–1–0||Green Bay||4–1–0||Los Angeles||3–1–1||Dallas||4–1–0|
|6||Washington||5–1–0||Green Bay*||4–2–0||Los Angeles||4–1–1||4 teams||4–2–0|
|7||Washington||6–1–0||Green Bay*||4–3–0||Los Angeles||4–2–1||Dallas||5–2–0|
|8||Washington||7–1–0||Green Bay*||5–3–0||Los Angeles||5–2–1||Dallas||6–2–0|
|9||Washington||8–1–0||Green Bay||6–3–0||Los Angeles||5–3–1||Dallas||7–2–0|
|10||Washington||9–1–0||Green Bay||7–3–0||Los Angeles*||5–4–1||Dallas||8–2–0|
|11||Washington||10–1–0||Green Bay*||7–4–0||San Francisco||6–4–1||Dallas||8–3–0|
|13||Washington||11–2–0||Green Bay||9–4–0||San Francisco||7–5–1||Dallas||10–3–0|
|14||Washington||11–3–0||Green Bay||10–4–0||San Francisco||8–5–1||Dallas||10–4–0|
American Football ConferenceEdit
|1||Miami, NY Jets||1–0–0||Cincinnati, Pittsburgh||1–0–0||Denver||1–0–0||Miami, NY Jets||1–0–0|
|2||Miami, NY Jets||2–0–0||Cincinnati||2–0–0||Oakland, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego||1–1–0||Miami, NY Jets||2–0–0|
|3||Miami||3–0–0||Cleveland||2–1–0||Kansas City||2–1–0||Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati, NY Jets||2–1–0|
|4||Miami||4–0–0||Cincinnati||3–1–0||Kansas City||3–1–0||San Diego*||2–1–1|
- Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation. Had the playoffs been seeded, the divisional matchups in the AFC would not have changed, but undefeated Miami would have had home field advantage for the AFC championship game. The NFC divisional matchups would have been #4 wild card Dallas, ineligible to play Washington, at #2 Green Bay and #3 San Francisco at #1 Washington.
|Divisional Playoffs||Conf. Championship Games||Super Bowl VII|
|December 24 – Miami Orange Bowl|
|December 31 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|December 23 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|January 14 – L.A. Coliseum|
|December 23 – Candlestick Park|
|December 31 – RFK Stadium|
|December 24 – RFK Stadium|
- Buffalo Bills: After finishing with a 1–13 record in 1971, Harvey Johnson was reassigned to the teams's scouting department. Lou Saban then was named as Johnson's replacement, beginning his second stint after serving as the Bills head coach from 1962 to 1965.
- Chicago Bears: Abe Gibron replaced the fired Jim Dooley.
- Denver Broncos: John Ralston joined the Broncos as head coach. Lou Saban left the team after a 2–6–1 start in 1971. Offensive line coach Jerry Smith served as interim for the remaining five games.
- Houston Oilers: Ed Hughes resigned and was replaced by Bill Peterson.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Ed Khayat began his first full season as head coach. He replaced Jerry Williams, who was fired after three games in 1971.
- "Owners give offense big seven-yard boost". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. Associated Press. March 24, 1972. p. 6A.
- NFL History 1971–1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)