The 2004 NFL season was the 85th regular season of the National Football League (NFL).

2004 NFL season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 9, 2004 – January 2, 2005
Start dateJanuary 8, 2005
AFC ChampionsNew England Patriots
NFC ChampionsPhiladelphia Eagles
Super Bowl XXXIX
DateFebruary 6, 2005
SiteALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
ChampionsNew England Patriots
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 13, 2005
SiteAloha Stadium
2004 NFL season is located in the United States
AFC teams: West, North, South, East
2004 NFL season is located in the United States
NFC teams: West, North, South, East

With the New England Patriots as the defending league champions, regular season play was held from September 9, 2004, to January 2, 2005. Hurricanes forced the rescheduling of two Miami Dolphins home games: the game against the Tennessee Titans was moved up one day to Saturday, September 11 to avoid oncoming Hurricane Ivan, while the game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 26 was moved back 7½ hours to miss the eye of Hurricane Jeanne.

The playoffs began on January 8, and eventually the New England Patriots repeated as NFL champions when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6. It would mark the last time a team won back-to-back Super Bowls until 2023 (that team being the Kansas City Chiefs).

Transactions edit

  • February 24, 2004, The Washington Redskins released Bruce Smith, the NFL's all-time sack leader, saving $6.5 million in salary cap space.[1]

Draft edit

The 2004 NFL Draft was held from April 24 to 25, 2004 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the San Diego Chargers selected quarterback Eli Manning from the University of Mississippi.

Referee changes edit

Ron Blum returned to line judge (where he officiated Super Bowl XXIV and Super Bowl XXVI), and Bill Vinovich was promoted to take his place as referee.

Midway through the season, Johnny Grier, the NFL's first African-American referee, suffered a leg injury that forced him to retire. He was permanently replaced by the back judge on his crew, Scott Green, who had previous experience as a referee in NFL Europe.

Rule changes edit

  • Due to several incidents during the previous year, officials are authorized to penalize excessive celebration. The 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will be marked off from the spot at the end of the previous play or, after a score, on the ensuing kickoff. If the infraction is ruled flagrant by the officials, the player(s) are ejected.
  • Timeouts can be called by head coaches.
  • The league's jersey numbering system was modified to allow wide receivers wear numbers 10–19, in addition to 80–89.
  • A punt or missed field goal that is untouched by the receiving team is immediately dead once it touches either the end zone or any member of the kicking team in the end zone. Previously, a punt or missed field goal that lands in the end zone before being controlled by the kicking team could be picked up by a member of the receiving team and immediately run the other way.
  • Teams will be awarded a third instant replay challenge if their first two are successful. Previously, teams were only limited to two regardless of what occurred during the game.
  • The one-bar facemask was outlawed. The few remaining players who still used the one-bar facemask at the time were allowed to continue to use the style for the remainder of their career under a grandfather clause. (Scott Player was the last player to wear the one-bar facemask in 2007).

2004 deaths edit

  • Pat Tillman former safety for the Arizona Cardinals was killed during a friendly fire incident during the war in Afghanistan.
  • Reggie White former defensive end for the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Carolina Panthers unexpectedly died on December 26, 2004, just seven days after his 43rd birthday from complications of sleep apnea.

Final regular season standings edit

Tiebreakers edit

  • Indianapolis clinched the AFC #3 seed instead of San Diego based on better head-to-head record (1–0).
  • N.Y. Jets clinched the AFC #5 seed instead of Denver based on better record in common games (5–0 to 3–2).
  • St. Louis clinched the NFC #5 seed instead of Minnesota or New Orleans based on better conference record (7–5 to Minnesota's 5–7 to New Orleans' 6–6).
  • Minnesota clinched the NFC #6 seed instead of New Orleans based on better head-to-head record (1–0).
  • N.Y. Giants finished ahead of Dallas and Washington in the NFC East based on better head-to-head record (3–1 to Dallas' 2–2 to Washington's 1–3).
  • Dallas finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better head-to-head record (2–0).

Playoffs edit

Within each conference, the four division winners and the top two non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The four division winners are seeded 1–4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams are seeded 5–6. The NFL does not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any round. In the first round, dubbed the wild-card playoffs or wild-card weekend, the third-seeded division winner hosts the sixth-seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosts the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference received a first-round bye. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosts the worst-surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5, or 6), while the number 2 seed will play the other team (seed 3, 4, or 5). The two surviving teams from each conference's divisional playoff games met in the respective AFC and NFC Conference Championship games, hosted by the higher seed. Although the Super Bowl, the championship round of the playoffs, is played at a neutral site, the designated home team is based on an annual rotation by conference.[2]

Playoff seeds
1 Pittsburgh Steelers (North winner) Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)
2 New England Patriots (East winner) Atlanta Falcons (South winner)
3 Indianapolis Colts (South winner) Green Bay Packers (North winner)
4 San Diego Chargers (West winner) Seattle Seahawks (West winner)
5 New York Jets (wild card) St. Louis Rams (wild card)
6 Denver Broncos (wild card) Minnesota Vikings (wild card)

The Miami Dolphins were the first team to be eliminated from the playoff race, having reached a 1–9 record by week 11.[3]

Bracket edit

Jan 9 – RCA Dome Jan 16 – Gillette Stadium
6 Denver 24
3 Indianapolis 3
3 Indianapolis 49 Jan 23 – Heinz Field
2 New England 20
Jan 8 – Qualcomm Stadium 2 New England 41
Jan 15 – Heinz Field
1 Pittsburgh 27
5 NY Jets 20* AFC Championship
5 NY Jets 17
4 San Diego 17 Feb 6 – Alltel Stadium
1 Pittsburgh 20*
Wild Card playoffs
Divisional playoffs
Jan 8 – Qwest Field A2 New England 24
Jan 15 – Georgia Dome
N1 Philadelphia 21
5 St. Louis 27 Super Bowl XXXIX
5 St. Louis 17
4 Seattle 20 Jan 23 – Lincoln Financial Field
2 Atlanta 47
Jan 9 – Lambeau Field 2 Atlanta 10
Jan 16 – Lincoln Financial Field
1 Philadelphia 27
6 Minnesota 31 NFC Championship
6 Minnesota 14
3 Green Bay 17
1 Philadelphia 27

* Indicates overtime victory

Milestones edit

The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:

Record Player/team Date/opponent Previous record holder[4]
Longest interception return Ed Reed, Baltimore (106 yards) November 7, vs Cleveland Tied by 2 players (103)
Most touchdown passes, season Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (49) N/A Dan Marino, Miami, 1984 (48)
Highest passer rating, season Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (121.1) Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994 (112.8)
Most interception return yards gained, season Ed Reed, Baltimore (358) Charlie McNeil, San Diego, 1961 (349)
Most first downs by a team, season Kansas City (398) Miami, 1994 (387)
Most consecutive games won New England (21) October 24, vs. N.Y. Jets Chicago, 1933–34 (17)
Most passing touchdowns by a team, season Indianapolis (51) N/A Miami, 1984 (49)

The Colts led the NFL with 522 points scored. The Colts tallied more points in the first half of each of their games of the 2004 NFL season (277 points) than seven other NFL teams managed in the entire season.[5] Despite throwing for 49 touchdown passes, Peyton Manning attempted fewer than 500 passes for the first time in his NFL career.[6] The San Francisco 49ers' record 420 consecutive scoring games that had started in Week 5 of the 1977 season ended in Week 2 of the season.

Statistical leaders edit

Team edit

Points scored Indianapolis Colts (522)
Total yards gained Kansas City Chiefs (6,695)
Yards rushing Atlanta Falcons (2,672)
Yards passing Indianapolis Colts (4,623)
Fewest points allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (251)
Fewest total yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (4,134)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (1,299)
Fewest passing yards allowed Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,579)
Playoff chasers the New York Jets against Miami in 2004, week 8 MNF

Individual edit

Scoring Adam Vinatieri, New England (141 points)
Touchdowns Shaun Alexander, Seattle (20 TDs)
Most field goals made Adam Vinatieri, New England (31 FGs)
Passing Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota (4717 yards)
Passing Touchdowns Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (49 TDs)
Passer Rating Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (121.1 rating)
Rushing Curtis Martin, New York Jets (1,697 yards)
Rushing Touchdowns LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (17 TDs)
Receptions Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (102)
Receiving yards Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina (1,405)
Punt returns Eddie Drummond, Detroit (13.2 average yards)
Kickoff returns Willie Ponder, New York Giants (26.9 average yards)
Interceptions Ed Reed, Baltimore (9)
Punting Shane Lechler, Oakland (46.7 average yards)
Sacks Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis (16)

Awards edit

Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis
Coach of the Year Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego
Offensive Player of the Year Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis
Defensive Player of the Year Ed Reed, Strong Safety, Baltimore
Offensive Rookie of the Year Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh
Defensive Rookie of the Year Jonathan Vilma, linebacker, New York Jets
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Drew Brees, quarterback, San Diego
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Warrick Dunn, running back, Atlanta
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Deion Branch, wide receiver, New England

Coaching changes edit

Stadium changes edit

New uniforms edit

  • The Atlanta Falcons switched the primary and alternate jerseys, making the red ones the primary and the black ones the alternate.
  • The Baltimore Ravens added black third alternative uniforms.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals introduced new uniforms, featuring black jerseys with orange tiger-striped sleeves, white jerseys with black tiger-striped sleeves, and orange third alternate uniforms. A new logo featuring an orange "B" with black tiger stripes was also unveiled.
  • The Chicago Bears added orange third alternate uniforms.
  • The Indianapolis Colts switched from blue face masks and white shoes to gray face masks and black shoes
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars made modification to their white uniforms, changing the teal number with black and gold trim to black numbers with gold and teal trim. Also introduced were new black pants with the Jaguars logo on hip.
  • The New York Giants added red third alternate uniforms.
  • The San Diego Chargers returned to navy pants with their white jerseys.

Television edit

This was the seventh year under the league's eight-year broadcast contracts with ABC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN to televise Monday Night Football, the AFC package, the NFC package, and Sunday Night Football, respectively.

At CBS, Jim Nantz and Greg Gumbel swapped roles. Nantz replaced Gumbel as the network's lead play-by-play announcer while Gumbel took Nantz's hosting duties on The NFL Today. Shannon Sharpe also joined The NFL Today as an analyst, replacing Deion Sanders.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Mike Patrick missed the first few broadcasts to recover from heart bypass surgery. Pat Summerall filled in those weeks for Patrick.

Starting this season CBS, Fox, ABC, and ESPN started broadcasting regular season games in High Definition. CBS would do select games weekly, while Fox, ABC, and ESPN broadcast every game weekly.

Notes edit

  1. ^ "Redskins cut four, including Smith". ESPN Sports. February 24, 2004. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
  2. ^ "NFL Playoff Procedures and Tiebreakers". Yahoo! Sports. December 31, 2006. Archived from the original on January 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Strauss, Chris (November 16, 2014). "The Oakland Raiders are officially eliminated from playoff contention". USA Today. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  4. ^ "Records". 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. NFL. 2005. ISBN 978-1-932994-36-0.
  5. ^ Ferraro, Michael X.; Veneziano, John (2007). Numbelievable!. Chicago: Triumph Books. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0.
  6. ^ Ferraro, Michael X.; Veneziano, John (2007). Numbelievable!. Chicago: Triumph Books. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0.
  7. ^ Gardner, Jim (November 28, 2005). "Fans unclear on main Monster in 49ers lineup". San Francisco Business Times.

External links edit

References edit