1974 NFL season

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1974 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 15 – December 15, 1974
Playoffs
Start date December 21, 1974
AFC Champions Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC Champions Minnesota Vikings
Super Bowl IX
Date January 12, 1975
Site Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Pittsburgh Steelers
Pro Bowl
Date January 20, 1975
Site Miami Orange Bowl
National Football League seasons
 < 1973 1975 > 

The 1974 NFL season was the 55th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl IX when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings. Players held a strike from July until August prior to the regular season beginning; only one preseason game (that year's Chicago College All-Star Game) was canceled, and the preseason contests were held with all-rookie rosters.

Major rule changes[edit]

The following changes were adopted to add tempo and action to the game (and to help counter the proposed changes announced by the World Football League to their games):

  • One sudden death overtime period (15 minutes) was added to all preseason and regular season games; if no team scored in this period, the game would result in a tie. This rule was enacted to decrease the number of tie games. The first ever regular season overtime, a September 22 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos, ended in a 35–35 draw. It was not until November 10, when the New York Jets defeated the New York Giants, 26–20, that an overtime game would produce a winner.
  • Goal posts: moved from the goal line to the end line, where they were in 1932. This was to reduce the number of games being decided on field goals, and to increase their difficulty, as well as to reduce the risk of player injuries.
  • Missed field goals: The defensive team takes possession of the ball at the line of scrimmage or the 20-yard line, whichever is farther from the goal line. (In 1994, that reference to the line of scrimmage was changed to the kick spot, which is usually 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.) Notice that the 20-yard line is where the defense takes possession after a touchback.
  • Kickoffs: moved to the 35-yard line (from the 40-yard line) to reduce touchbacks, promoting more excitement with kickoff returns. In 1994, the kickoff would be moved farther back, to the 30-yard line, where it would stay until it was moved back to the 35 for the 2011 season.
  • Punt returns: members of the kicking team cannot go beyond the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked, except the player at the farthest end of each side of the snapper. The original rule change would have prohibited any player from crossing the line of scrimmage prior to the ball being kicked.
  • An eligible pass receiver can only be contacted once by defenders after the receiver has gone 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • When the defensive team commits an illegal use of hands, arms, or body foul from behind the line of scrimmage, the penalty will be assessed from the previous spot instead of the spot of the foul.
  • The penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of hands, and tripping were reduced from 15-yards to 10-yards.
  • Wide receivers blocking back towards the ball within three yards from the line of scrimmage may not block below the waist.

Division races[edit]

Starting in 1970, and until 2002, there were three divisions (Eastern, Central and Western) in each conference. The winners of each division, and a fourth "wild card" team based on the best non-division winner, qualified for the playoffs. The tiebreaker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents records, and conference play.

National Football Conference[edit]

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 St. Louis, Washington, Dallas 1–0–0 Chicago, Minnesota 1–0–0 Los Angeles, San Fran. 1–0–0 4 teams 1–0–0
2 St. Louis 2–0–0 Minnesota 2–0–0 Los Angeles, San Fran. 2–0–0 Los Angeles, San Fran. 2–0–0
3 St. Louis 3–0–0 Minnesota 3–0–0 Los Angeles, San Fran. 2–1–0 4 teams 2–1–0
4 St. Louis 4–0–0 Minnesota 4–0–0 Los Angeles 3–1–0 Philadelphia 3–1–0
5 St. Louis 5–0–0 Minnesota 5–0–0 Los Angeles 3–2–0 Philadelphia 4–1–0
6 St. Louis 6–0–0 Minnesota 5–1–0 Los Angeles 4–2–0 Philadelphia 4–2–0
7 St. Louis 7–0–0 Minnesota 5–2–0 Los Angeles 5–2–0 Washington 4–3–0
8 St. Louis 7–1–0 Minnesota 6–2–0 Los Angeles 6–2–0 Washington 5–3–0
9 St. Louis 7–2–0 Minnesota 7–2–0 Los Angeles 7–2–0 Washington 6–3–0
10 St. Louis 8–2–0 Minnesota 7–3–0 Los Angeles 7–3–0 Washington 7–3–0
11 St. Louis 9–2–0 Minnesota 7–4–0 Los Angeles 8–3–0 Washington 8–3–0
12 St. Louis 9–3–0 Minnesota 8–4–0 Los Angeles 9–3–0 Washington 8–4–0
13 St. Louis 9–4–0 Minnesota 9–4–0 Los Angeles 9–4–0 Washington 9–4–0
14 ST. LOUIS 10–4–0 MINNESOTA 10–4–0 LOS ANGELES 10–4–0 WASHINGTON 10–4–0

American Football Conference[edit]

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 Buffalo, New England 1–0–0 Pittsburgh, Houston, Cincinnati 1–0–0 Kansas City 1–0–0 Denver, Kansas City, San Diego 1–0–0
2 New England 2–0–0 Pittsburgh 1–0–1 Oakland* 1–1–0 8 teams 1–1–0
3 New England 3–0–0 Cincinnati 2–1–0 Oakland* 2–1–0 3 teams 2–1–0
4 New England 4–0–0 Cincinnati 3–1–0 Oakland 3–1–0 Pittsburgh 2–1–1
5 New England 5–0–0 Cincinnati 4–1–0 Oakland 4–1–0 Buffalo 4–1–0
6 Buffalo 5–1–0 Pittsburgh 4–1–1 Oakland 5–1–0 New England 5–1–0
7 Buffalo 6–1–0 Pittsburgh 5–1–1 Oakland 6–1–0 New England 6–1–0
8 Buffalo 7–1–0 Pittsburgh 6–1–1 Oakland 7–1–0 New England 6–2–0
9 Miami 7–2–0 Pittsburgh 6–2–1 Oakland 8–1–0 Buffalo 7–2–0
10 Miami 8–2–0 Pittsburgh 7–2–1 Oakland 9–1–0 Buffalo 7–3–0
11 Miami 8–3–0 Pittsburgh 8–2–1 Oakland 9–2–0 Buffalo 8–3–0
12 Miami 9–3–0 Pittsburgh 8–3–1 Oakland 10–2–0 Buffalo 9–3–0
13 Miami 10–3–0 Pittsburgh 9–3–1 Oakland 11–2–0 Buffalo 9–4–0
14 MIAMI 11–3–0 PITTSBURGH 10–3–1 OAKLAND 12–2–0 BUFFALO 9–5–0

Final standings[edit]

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

  x  – clinched wild card berth,   y  – clinched division title

AFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Miami Dolphins 11 3 0 .786 327 216
x-Buffalo Bills 9 5 0 .643 264 244
New England Patriots 7 7 0 .500 348 289
New York Jets 7 7 0 .500 279 300
Baltimore Colts 2 12 0 .143 190 329
AFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Pittsburgh Steelers 10 3 1 .750 305 189
Houston Oilers 7 7 0 .500 236 282
Cincinnati Bengals 7 7 0 .500 283 259
Cleveland Browns 4 10 0 .286 251 344
AFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Oakland Raiders 12 2 0 .857 355 228
Denver Broncos 7 6 1 .536 302 294
Kansas City Chiefs 5 9 0 .357 233 293
San Diego Chargers 5 9 0 .357 212 285
NFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-St. Louis Cardinals 10 4 0 .714 285 218
x-Washington Redskins 10 4 0 .714 320 196
Dallas Cowboys 8 6 0 .571 297 235
Philadelphia Eagles 7 7 0 .500 242 217
New York Giants 2 12 0 .143 195 299
NFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Minnesota Vikings 10 4 0 .714 310 195
Detroit Lions 7 7 0 .500 256 270
Green Bay Packers 6 8 0 .429 210 206
Chicago Bears 4 10 0 .286 152 279
NFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Los Angeles Rams 10 4 0 .714 263 181
San Francisco 49ers 6 8 0 .429 226 236
New Orleans Saints 5 9 0 .357 166 263
Atlanta Falcons 3 11 0 .214 111 271


Tiebreakers[edit]

  • New England finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better record against common opponents (5–4 to Jets' 4–5).
  • Houston finished ahead of Cincinnati in the AFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Kansas City finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on better record against common opponents (4–6 to Chargers' 3–7).
  • St. Louis finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).

Playoffs[edit]

Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.
Divisional Playoffs Conf. Championship Games Super Bowl IX
                   
December 22 – Three Rivers Stadium        
 Buffalo Bills  14
December 29 – Oakland Coliseum
 Pittsburgh Steelers  32  
 Pittsburgh Steelers  24
December 21 – Oakland Coliseum
     Oakland Raiders  13  
 Miami Dolphins  26
January 12 – Tulane Stadium
 Oakland Raiders  28  
 Pittsburgh Steelers  16
December 22 – L.A. Coliseum    
   Minnesota Vikings  6
 Washington Redskins  10
December 29 – Metropolitan Stadium
 Los Angeles Rams  19  
 Los Angeles Rams  10
December 21 – Metropolitan Stadium
     Minnesota Vikings  14  
 St. Louis Cardinals  14
 Minnesota Vikings  30  
 

Awards[edit]

Most Valuable Player Ken Stabler, Quarterback, Oakland
Coach of the Year Don Coryell, St. Louis Cardinals
Offensive Player of the Year Ken Stabler, Quarterback, Oakland
Defensive Player of the Year Joe Greene, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
Offensive Rookie of the Year Don Woods, Running Back, San Diego
Defensive Rookie of the Year Jack Lambert, Linebacker, Pittsburgh

References[edit]