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.

1991 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 1 – December 23, 1991
Start dateDecember 28, 1991
AFC ChampionsBuffalo Bills
NFC ChampionsWashington Redskins
Super Bowl XXVI
DateJanuary 26, 1992
SiteMetrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ChampionsWashington Redskins
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 1992
SiteAloha Stadium

Player movementEdit



  • July 22: The Atlanta Falcons traded Defensive Tackle Tony Casillas to the Dallas Cowboys. [5]
  • August 14: The Los Angeles Raiders traded Vencie Glenn to the New Orleans Saints[6]
  • August 19: The New Orleans Saints traded Robert Massey to the Phoenix Cardinals [6]
  • August 21: The New Orleans Saints traded wide receiver Brett Perriman to the Detroit Lions [6]
  • August 27: The Green Bay Packers traded kicker Brad Daluiso to the Atlanta Falcons [6]
  • August 27: The Los Angeles Raiders traded quarterback Steve Beuerlein to the Dallas Cowboys[6]
  • August 28: The Chargers traded quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver to the Atlanta Falcons[6]
  • 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.[7]


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.

Officiating changesEdit

Art McNally resigned as the league's Director of Officiating during the offseason. He had held the position since 1968.[8] Longtime NFL referee Jerry Seeman, who worked the previous season's Super Bowl XXV, was named as McNally's replacement.[9]

Jim Tunney retired after 31 years as an NFL official. He remains the only referee to have worked consecutive Super Bowls (XI, and XII).

Gene Barth died on October 11, 1991.[10] For the remainder of the 1991 season, NFL officials wore a black armband on their left sleeve with the white number 14 to honor him.

Bernie Kukar, Larry Nemmers (the side judge for Super Bowl XXV), and Stan Kemp were promoted to referee to replace Barth, Seeman, and Tunney.

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.

1991 deathsEdit

Members of the Pro Football Hall of FameEdit


American BowlEdit

A series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States, a total of three games were contested.

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

Regular seasonEdit

Scheduling formulaEdit

AFC East vs NFC Central
AFC Central vs NFC East
AFC West vs NFC West

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.

Final standingsEdit


  • 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
5 Dallas 17
5 Dallas 6
4 Chicago 13 Jan. 12 – RFK Stadium
2 Detroit 38
Dec. 28 – Louisiana Superdome 2 Detroit 10
Jan. 4 – RFK Stadium
1 Washington 41
6 Atlanta 27 NFC Championship
6 Atlanta 7
3 New Orleans 20 Jan. 26 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
1 Washington 24
Wild Card playoffs
Divisional playoffs
Dec. 29 – Astrodome N1 Washington 37
Jan. 4 – Mile High Stadium
A1 Buffalo 24
6 NY Jets 10 Super Bowl XXVI
3 Houston 24
3 Houston 17 Jan. 12 – Rich Stadium
2 Denver 26
Dec. 28 – Arrowhead Stadium 2 Denver 7
Jan. 5 – Rich Stadium
1 Buffalo 10
5 LA Raiders 6 AFC Championship
4 Kansas City 14
4 Kansas City 10
1 Buffalo 37

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

Coaching changesEdit



Uniform changesEdit

  • 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

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Raiders sign Lott on Plan B". THE BALTIMORE SUN. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  2. ^ "ROGER CRAIG SIGNS WITH RAIDERS". CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "1991 NFL Transactions. Signings - August". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e "1991 NFL Transactions. Trades - September". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  5. ^ "1991 NFL Transactions. Trades - July". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "1991 NFL Transactions. Trades - August". National Football League. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  7. ^ "Sports People: Pro Football; Webster Retires". New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  8. ^ "Forty years later, NFL official denies 'Immaculate Reception' conspiracy". USA TODAY. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Gene F. Barth Dies; Was NFL Official For 20 Years", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 1991, Edition: L5, Page: 14F