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The 1999 NFL season was the 80th regular season of the National Football League. The Cleveland Browns returned to the field for the first time since the 1995 season, while the Tennessee Oilers changed their name to "Tennessee Titans," with the league retiring the name “Oilers.”

1999 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 12, 1999 – January 3, 2000
Start dateJanuary 8, 2000
AFC ChampionsTennessee Titans
NFC ChampionsSt. Louis Rams
Super Bowl XXXIV
DateJanuary 30, 2000
SiteGeorgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
ChampionsSt. Louis Rams
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 6, 2000
SiteAloha Stadium
Photo of the Green Bay vs. Denver preseason game at Camp Randall Stadium on August 23, 1999

The return of the Browns increased the number of teams to 31, the first time the league had played with an odd number of teams since 1966. This required the NFL to give at least one team a bye each week; previously, barring extreme circumstances, a club never received a bye during the first two weeks or last seven weeks of the season.

Under a new system, for ten weeks of the season (Week #1, Week #2 and Week #10 to Week #17), one team received a bye, and for seven weeks of the season (Week #3 to Week #9), three teams received a bye. This format would continue until the Houston Texans joined the NFL in 2002, returning the league to an even number of teams.

The start of the 1999 NFL Season was pushed back one week and started the weekend after Labor Day, a change from the previous seasons: due to the Y2K concerns, the NFL did not want to hold the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday January 1, 2000, and did not want teams traveling on that day. This was also done to avoid competing against college football's New Years Day bowl games.

Week 17 games were held on January 2, 2000, and the opening round of the playoffs would be scheduled for January 8 and 9, with the bye week before the Super Bowl removed to accommodate the one-week adjustment. The start of the season after Labor Day would become a regular fixture for future seasons, beginning in 2001.

The final spot in the NFC playoffs came down to an exciting final day of the season. The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers were both at 7–8, tied for the last spot in the playoffs with the Dallas Cowboys and tied in other tiebreakers. The Packers/Panthers tie would be broken by best net point differential in conference games. With both the Packers and Panthers playing at 1:00 PM Eastern on January 2, the two teams tried to outscore the other. The Packers beat the Arizona Cardinals 49–24, and the Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 45–13, with the result that the Packers finished ahead of the Panthers by 11 points. Nevertheless, Dallas defeated the New York Giants later that night to claim the final playoff spot.

The St. Louis Rams, who had had losing records for each of the past nine seasons dating back to their first tenure in Los Angeles (and had finished in last place in their division the previous season), surprised the entire league by defeating the Tennessee Titans 23–16 in Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome.

Major rule changesEdit

  • Clipping became illegal around the line of scrimmage just as it was on the rest of the field.
  • A new instant replay system (different from the one used from 1986 to 1991) is adopted to aid officiating. The system mirrors a method used by the defunct USFL in 1985:
    • In each game, each team has two challenge flags that can be thrown to start an official review of the play in question. Each challenge will require the use of a team's timeout. If the challenge is successful, the timeout is restored.
    • Inside of two minutes of each half, and during all overtime periods, all reviews will be initiated by a Replay Assistant. The Replay Assistant has an unlimited number of reviews, regardless of how many timeouts each team has left. And no timeout will be charged for any review by the Replay Assistant.
    • All replay reviews will be conducted by the referee on a field-level monitor. A decision will be reversed only when there is indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call. The referee has 90 seconds to review the play.
    • The officials will be notified of a replay request or challenge via a specialized electronic pager with a vibrating alert. Each head coach would also have a red flag to use as a backup to get the attention of the officials to challenge a play.
    • The replay system will only cover the following situations:
      • Scoring plays
      • Pass complete/incomplete/intercepted
      • Runner/receiver out of bounds
      • Recovery of a loose ball in or out of bounds
      • Touching of a forward pass, either by an ineligible receiver or a defensive player
      • Quarterback pass or fumble
      • Illegal forward pass
      • Forward or backward pass
      • Runner ruled not down by contact
      • Forward progress in regard to a first down
      • Touching of a kick
      • Too many men on the field

The league also added the following then-minor rule change that became significant in the playoffs a few years later:

When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.[1]

This new interpretation of a forward pass would later be commonly known as the “Tuck Rule”, and was repealed in 2013.

Referee changesEdit

Jerry Markbreit retired prior to the 1999 season. He joined the NFL in 1976 as a line judge before being promoted to the referee in just his second year. To date, he is the only NFL referee to officiate four Super Bowl games: Super Bowl XVII, Super Bowl XXI, Super Bowl XXVI, and Super Bowl XXIX. Jeff Triplette was promoted to referee to replace Markbreit.

Coaching changesEdit

Stadium changesEdit

New uniformsEdit

  • Baltimore Ravens – New Raven head logo on helmets.
  • Detroit Lions – Altered sleeve striping. Pants color for road uniforms changed from Honolulu blue back to gray.
  • New Orleans Saints – Black numbers on road uniforms and added black pants with a wide gold stripe to road uniforms.
  • Tennessee Titans – New nickname (from “Oilers” to “Titans”), new logo, new uniforms.

Final regular season standingsEdit


  • Miami was the third AFC Wild Card ahead of Kansas City based on better record against common opponents (6–1 to Chiefs’ 5–3).
  • N.Y. Jets finished ahead of New England in the AFC East based on better division record (4–4 to Patriots’ 2–6).
  • Seattle finished ahead of Kansas City in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • San Diego finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on better division record (5–3 to Raiders’ 3–5).
  • Dallas was the second NFC Wild Card based on better record against common opponents (4–2 to Lions’ 3–3) and better conference record than Carolina (7–5 to Panthers’ 6–6).
  • Detroit was the third NFC Wild Card based on better conference record than Green Bay (7–5 to Packers’ 6–6) and head-to-head victory over Carolina.


Jan. 8 – FedExField   Jan. 15 – Raymond James Stadium          
 6  Detroit  13
 3  Washington  13
 3  Washington  27     Jan. 23 – Trans World Dome
 2  Tampa Bay  14  
Jan. 9 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome  2  Tampa Bay  6
Jan. 16 – Trans World Dome
   1  St. Louis  11  
 5  Dallas  10 NFC Championship
 4  Minnesota  37
 4  Minnesota  27   Jan. 30 – Georgia Dome
 1  St. Louis  49  
Wild card playoffs  
Divisional playoffs
Jan. 8 – Adelphia Coliseum  N1  St. Louis  23
Jan. 16 – RCA Dome
   A4  Tennessee  16
 5  Buffalo  16 Super Bowl XXXIV
 4  Tennessee  19
 4  Tennessee  22     Jan. 23 – Alltel Stadium
 2  Indianapolis  16  
Jan. 9 – Kingdome  4  Tennessee  33
Jan. 15 – Alltel Stadium
   1  Jacksonville  14  
 6  Miami  20 AFC Championship
 6  Miami  7
 3  Seattle  17  
 1  Jacksonville  62  

Statistical leadersEdit


Points scored St. Louis Rams (526)
Total yards gained St. Louis Rams (6,412)
Yards rushing San Francisco 49ers (2,095)
Yards passing St. Louis Rams (4,353)
Fewest points allowed Jacksonville Jaguars (217)
Fewest total yards allowed Buffalo Bills (4,045)
Fewest rushing yards allowed St. Louis Rams (1,189)
Fewest passing yards allowed Buffalo Bills (2,675)


Scoring Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis (145 points)
Touchdowns Stephen Davis, Washington and Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (17 TDs)
Most field goals made Olindo Mare, Miami (39 FGs)
Rushing Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (1,553 yards)
Passing Kurt Warner, St. Louis (109.2 rating)
Passing touchdowns Kurt Warner, St. Louis (41 TDs)
Pass receiving Jimmy Smith, Jacksonville (116 catches)
Pass receiving yards Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1,663)
Punt returns Charlie Rogers, Seattle (14.5 average yards)
Kickoff returns Tony Horne, St. Louis (29.7 average yards)
Interceptions Rod Woodson, Baltimore; Sam Madison, Miami; James Hasty, Kansas City; Donnie Abraham, Tampa Bay; and Troy Vincent, Philadelphia (7)
Punting Tom Rouen, Denver (46.5 average yards)
Sacks Kevin Carter, St. Louis (17)



The 1999 NFL Draft was held from April 17 to 18, 1999 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Tim Couch from the University of Kentucky.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Official Rules of the NFL, Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2, Note 2
  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1991–2000 (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
  • Steelers Fever – History of NFL Rules (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
  • NFL introduces Instant Replay technology (Last accessed November 4, 2005)
  • Tuck Rule Hard to Grasp by Mark Maske, Washington Post, October 15, 2005 (Last accessed November 4, 2005)