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The 1990 NFL season was the 71st regular season of the National Football League. To increase revenue, the league changed the regular season so that all NFL teams would play their 16-game schedule over a 17-week period. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams by adding another wild card from each conference, thus adding two more contests to the postseason schedule; this format remains in use today (although there are now four division spots and two wild card spots available with realignment in 2002). During four out of the five previous seasons, at least one team with a 10–6 record missed the playoffs, including the 11–5 Denver Broncos in 1985; meanwhile, the 10–6 San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII, leading for calls to expand the playoff format to ensure that 10–6 teams could compete for a Super Bowl win. Ironically, the first ever sixth-seeded playoff team would not have a 10–6 record, but instead, the New Orleans Saints, with a paltry 8–8 record, took the new playoff spot.

1990 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 9 – December 31, 1990
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 5, 1991
AFC ChampionsBuffalo Bills
NFC ChampionsNew York Giants
Super Bowl XXV
DateJanuary 27, 1991
SiteTampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida
ChampionsNew York Giants
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 3, 1991
SiteAloha Stadium

This was also the first full season for Paul Tagliabue as the league's Commissioner, after taking over from Pete Rozelle midway through the previous season.

ABC was given the rights to televise the two additional playoff games. Meanwhile, Turner's TNT network started to broadcast Sunday night games for the first half of the season.

On October 8, the league announced that the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award would be named the Pete Rozelle Trophy.[1] The season ended with Super Bowl XXV when the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20–19 at Tampa Stadium. This would be the first Super Bowl appearance for Buffalo, who would lose the next three Super Bowls as well.

Late in the season, with the Gulf War looming closer, the NFL announced that starting in Week 16 (and continuing until Super Bowl XXV), the league would add American flag decals to the back of the helmet.[2] The flag would return on a permanent basis in 2001 following the September 11 attacks.

Contents

Major rule changesEdit

  • The rule for unnecessary roughness penalties is clarified so that any player who butts, spears, or rams an opponent is ejected.
  • The penalty for an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage is enforced from the spot where any part of the passer's body is beyond the line when the ball is released.
  • The following changes are made to try to speed up the game:
    • the time interval on the Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) after time outs and other administrative stoppages has been reduced from 30 seconds to 25 seconds (the time interval between plays remains the same at 45 seconds);
    • whenever a player goes out of bounds, other than in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half or overtime, the game clock immediately starts when the ball is spotted for the next play and the Referee signals it is ready for play; and
    • other than in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half or overtime the game clock also starts following all declined penalties.
  • This was the first season in which NFL teams officially had a bye week.

Final regular season standingsEdit

TiebreakersEdit

  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston and Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on best head-to-head record (3–1 to Oilers’ 2–2 to Steelers” 1–3).
  • Houston was the third AFC Wild Card based on better conference record (8–4) than Seattle (7–5) and Pittsburgh (6–6).
  • Philadelphia finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better division record (5–3 to Redskins’ 4–4).
  • Tampa Bay was second in NFC Central based on best head-to-head record (5–1) against Detroit (2–4), Green Bay (3–3), and Minnesota (2–4).
  • Detroit finished third in the NFC Central based on best net division points (minus 8) against Green Bay (minus 40).
  • Green Bay finished ahead of Minnesota in the NFC Central based on better conference record (5–7 to Vikings’ 4–8).
  • The L.A. Rams finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on net points in division (plus 1 to Falcons’ minus 31).

PlayoffsEdit

                                   
Jan. 6 – Riverfront Stadium   Jan. 13 – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum          
  6   Houston   14
  3   Cincinnati   10
  3   Cincinnati   41     Jan. 20 – Rich Stadium
  2   LA Raiders   20  
AFC
Jan. 5 – Joe Robbie Stadium   2   LA Raiders   3
Jan. 12 – Rich Stadium
    1   Buffalo   51  
  5   Kansas City   16 AFC Championship
  4   Miami   34
  4   Miami   17   Jan. 27 – Tampa Stadium
  1   Buffalo   44  
Wild card playoffs  
Divisional playoffs
Jan. 6 – Soldier Field  A1   Buffalo   19
Jan. 13 – Giants Stadium
   N2   NY Giants   20
  6   New Orleans   6 Super Bowl XXV
  3   Chicago   3
  3   Chicago   16     Jan. 20 – Candlestick Park
  2   NY Giants   31  
NFC
Jan. 5 – Veterans Stadium   2   NY Giants   15
Jan. 12 – Candlestick Park
    1   San Francisco   13  
  5   Washington   20 NFC Championship
  5   Washington   10
  4   Philadelphia   6  
  1   San Francisco   28  


Coaching changesEdit

In-seasonEdit

Statistical leadersEdit

TeamEdit

Points scored Buffalo Bills (428)
Total yards gained Houston Oilers (6,222)
Yards rushing Philadelphia Eagles (2,556)
Yards passing Houston Oilers (4,805)
Fewest points allowed New York Giants (211)
Fewest total yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (4,115)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Philadelphia Eagles (1,169)
Fewest passing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (2,500)

AwardsEdit

Notable eventsEdit

  • For the first time in NFL history, two teams (the 49ers and the Giants) would start the season 10–0.[3] This would not be equalled until 2009 when the Colts and the Saints both reached 13–0, and was also equalled in 2015 by the Panthers and Patriots.

DraftEdit

The 1990 NFL Draft was held from April 22 to 23, 1990 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Jeff George from the University of Illinois.

CoachesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "NFL History by Decade: 1981–1990". NFL.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  2. ^ Services, From Times Wire (December 20, 1990). "THE SIDELINES : U.S. Flag to Grace NFL Helmets". Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2018 – via LA Times.
  3. ^ Belock, Joe; ‘Sweet 16: Patriots and Panthers join ranks of NFL teams to begin season 10-0 ’; New York Daily News, November 24, 2015