1991 NFL season
The 1991 NFL season was the 72nd regular season of the National Football League. It was the final season for legendary coach Chuck Noll. The season ended with Super Bowl XXVI when the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills 37–24 at the Metrodome in Minnesota. This was the second of four consecutive Super Bowl losses for Buffalo.
|Duration||September 1 – December 23, 1991|
|Start date||December 28, 1991|
|AFC Champions||Buffalo Bills|
|NFC Champions||Washington Redskins|
|Super Bowl XXVI|
|Date||January 26, 1992|
|Site||Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Date||February 2, 1992|
- March 26, 1991: Ronnie Lott signs with the Los Angeles Raiders as a Plan B Free Agent.
- April 2, 1991: Roger Craig signs with the Los Angeles Raiders as a Plan B Free Agent.
- August 27: The Green Bay Packers sign punter Rick Tuten, who appeared in Super Bowl XXV with the Buffalo Bills.
- September 19: The Phoenix Cardinals sign quarterback Stan Gelbaugh, who led the London Monarchs to the World Bowl '91. 
- September 19: The Philadelphia Eagles sign Wide Receiver Roy Green. 
- September 21: The Pittsburgh Steelers sign quarterback Rick Strom. 
- September 21: The San Diego Chargers sign Wide Receiver Yancey Thigpen. 
- September 26 : The San Francisco 49ers sign Defensive End Jim Burt. 
- July 22: The Atlanta Falcons traded Defensive Tackle Tony Casillas to the Dallas Cowboys. 
- August 14: The Los Angeles Raiders traded Vencie Glenn to the New Orleans Saints
- August 19: The New Orleans Saints traded Robert Massey to the Phoenix Cardinals 
- August 21: The New Orleans Saints traded wide receiver Brett Perriman to the Detroit Lions 
- August 27: The Green Bay Packers traded kicker Brad Daluiso to the Atlanta Falcons 
- August 27: The Los Angeles Raiders traded quarterback Steve Beuerlein to the Dallas Cowboys
- August 28: The Chargers traded quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver to the Atlanta Falcons
- September 11: The Seattle Seahawks traded kicker Norm Johnson to the Atlanta Falcons.
- Four-time Super Bowl champion Mike Webster announced his retirement on March 11, 1991 after a 17-year career with a total of 245 games played at center.
The 1991 NFL Draft was held from April 21 to 22, 1991 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Dallas Cowboys selected defensive tackle Russell Maryland from the University of Miami.
Art McNally resigned as the league's Director of Officiating during the offseason. He had held the position since 1968. Longtime NFL referee Jerry Seeman, who worked the previous season's Super Bowl XXV, was named as McNally's replacement.
Major rule changesEdit
- Source: Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6). pp 1583–1592.
- The definition of a drop kick, field goal, and punt is modified: all three can only be attempted from behind the line of scrimmage.
- If a foul by a player causes an injury to an opponent, a team time out will not be charged to the penalized team anytime during the game instead of only during the last two minutes of a half/overtime.
- The game clock will not start until the next snap following any change of possession, even if the player went out of bounds.
- Officials will immediately blow the play dead when a defensive player is offsides before the snap and clearly rushes beyond the offensive line in such a way that he becomes an unabated threat to the quarterback.
- A touchback will be ruled when a player fumbles the ball in the field of play and it goes out of bounds in the opponent's end zone.
- A touchback, not a safety, will also be ruled when a player fumbles the ball in his own end zone and the opponent is the one that knocks the fumble out of bounds in the end zone.
- An offensive player cannot deliberately bat a backward pass forward.
Members of the Pro Football Hall of FameEdit
- Paul Brown: Brown died on August 5, 1991 at home of complications from pneumonia. A longtime coach of the Cleveland Browns and co-founder of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, also serving as their first coach, Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
- Red Grange: Grange developed Parkinson's disease and died on January 28, 1991, in Lake Wales, Florida. Joining the Chicago Bears in 1925, Grange, a charter member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, also became the first person other than the game referee to toss the coin at a Super Bowl.
|Date||Winning Team||Score||Losing Team||Score||Stadium||City|
|July 28, 1991||Buffalo Bills||17||Philadelphia Eagles||13||Wembley Stadium||London|
|August 3, 1991||San Francisco 49ers||21||Chicago Bears||7||Olympiastadion||Berlin|
|August 4, 1991||Miami Dolphins||19||Los Angeles Raiders||17||Tokyo Dome||Tokyo|
Highlights of the 1991 season included:
- Thanksgiving: Two games were played on Thursday, November 28, featuring Chicago at Detroit and Pittsburgh at Dallas, with Detroit and Dallas winning.
- N.Y. Jets finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Chicago was the first NFC Wild Card based on better conference record than Dallas (9–3 to Cowboys’ 8–4).
- Atlanta finished ahead of San Francisco in the NFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0), and was the third NFC Wild Card ahead of Philadelphia based on better conference record (7–5 to Eagles’ 6–6).
|Dec. 29 – Soldier Field||Jan. 5 – Pontiac Silverdome|
|4||Chicago||13||Jan. 12 – RFK Stadium|
|Dec. 28 – Louisiana Superdome||2||Detroit||10|
|Jan. 4 – RFK Stadium|
|3||New Orleans||20||Jan. 26 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Dec. 29 – Astrodome||N1||Washington||37|
|Jan. 4 – Mile High Stadium|
|6||NY Jets||10||Super Bowl XXVI|
|3||Houston||17||Jan. 12 – Rich Stadium|
|Dec. 28 – Arrowhead Stadium||2||Denver||7|
|Jan. 5 – Rich Stadium|
|5||LA Raiders||6||AFC Championship|
Records, milestones, and notable statisticsEdit
- Week 8
- October 21: James Lofton became the oldest player to record 200 yards receiving as well as 200 yards from scrimmage in a game (35 years, 108 days), as the Buffalo Bills defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a 35–16 final.
|Most Valuable Player||Thurman Thomas, Running Back, Buffalo|
|Coach of the Year||Wayne Fontes, Detroit|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Thurman Thomas, Running Back, Buffalo|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Pat Swilling, Linebacker, New Orleans|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Leonard Russell, Running Back, New England|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Mike Croel, Linebacker, Denver|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Jim McMahon, Quarterback, Philadelphia|
|NFL Man of the Year||Anthony Muñoz, Offensive Tackle, Cincinnati|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Mark Rypien, Quarterback, Washington|
- Cleveland Browns: Bill Belichick was named the permanent replacement, after Bud Carson was fired after the first nine games of 1990, and Jim Shofner served as interim for the final seven games.
- New England Patriots: Dick MacPherson replaced the fired Rod Rust.
- New York Giants: Bill Parcells resigned following the team's Super Bowl XXV victory, and was replaced by Ray Handley.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Rich Kotite was hired after the team opted to not renew Buddy Ryan's contract.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Richard Williamson became the permanent head coach, after serving as interim for the final three games of 1990 following the firing of Ray Perkins.
- The NFL shield was added to the yoke of the jerseys and the left thigh of the pants. The NFL shield was also added to the right breast of the officiating uniforms.
- The New England Patriots switched from white face masks to red.
- The Washington Redskins switched from big block numbers to skinner font size numbers.
- The San Francisco 49ers removed white stripes on red socks
- "Raiders sign Lott on Plan B". THE BALTIMORE SUN. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- "ROGER CRAIG SIGNS WITH RAIDERS". CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- "1991 NFL Transactions. Signings - August". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "1991 NFL Transactions. Trades - September". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "1991 NFL Transactions. Trades - July". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "1991 NFL Transactions. Trades - August". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "Sports People: Pro Football; Webster Retires". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
- "Forty years later, NFL official denies 'Immaculate Reception' conspiracy". USA TODAY. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
- "Former NFL referee, league supervisor of officials Jerry Seeman dies at age 77". StarTribune.com. Associated Press. November 25, 2013. Archived from the original on November 29, 2013.
- "Gene F. Barth Dies; Was NFL Official For 20 Years", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1991, Edition: L5, Page: 14F