1997 NFL season

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1997 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration August 31, 1997 – December 22, 1997
Playoffs
Start date December 27, 1997
AFC Champions Denver Broncos
NFC Champions Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl XXXII
Date January 25, 1998
Site Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Champions Denver Broncos
Pro Bowl
Date February 1, 1998
Site Aloha Stadium
National Football League seasons
 < 1996 1998 > 

The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while a new stadium in Nashville began construction. Houston would rejoin the NFL with the expansion Texans in 2002.

This was the last season to date that TNT broadcast NFL games, as well as the last for NBC until 2006. When the TV contracts were renewed near the end of the season, Fox retained the National Football Conference package, CBS took over the American Football Conference package and ESPN won the right to televise all of the Sunday night games.

Due to Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, the Chicago BearsMiami Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium was moved back one day to Monday, October 27.

The Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both changed their uniforms, and the new uniforms for both teams were introduced during this season.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXII when the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers.

1997 NFL Season Changes[edit]

Stadiums[edit]

Uniforms[edit]

  • Pittsburgh Steelers – New font style numbers to match those on the helmets; Steelers logo patch on uniform.
  • Baltimore Ravens – New style numbers with shadow in the back; wore white pants with home uniforms.
  • Cincinnati Bengals – Brighter orange on uniform; new Logo, and Bengals logo on sleeve ends.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – New logo and uniforms; Pewter pants and red home jerseys. Orange was maintained as a pinstripe.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – New font style numbers; black side panels on uniforms.
  • Atlanta Falcons – New Logo; new striping on pants; red numbers with black trim on road uniforms.
  • San Diego Chargers – White pants with road uniforms.
  • Denver Broncos – New Logo and uniforms, with navy replacing orange as the primary color.
  • Miami Dolphins – New Logo with darker aqua; new shadow in the numbers.

1997 Coaching Changes[edit]

Major rule changes[edit]

  • When a team fakes a punt and throws the ball downfield, pass interference will not be called on the two outside defenders who are actually trying to block a coverage man from getting downfield and might not even know the ball has been thrown.
  • In order to reduce taunting and excessive celebrations, no player may remove his helmet while on the playing field except during timeouts, between quarters, and in the case of an injury. This is known as the "Emmitt Smith rule" after the Dallas Cowboys' Running Back's habit of taking his helmet off every time he scored a touchdown.

Final regular season standings[edit]

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green

AFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
(3) New England Patriots 10 6 0 .625 369 289
(6) Miami Dolphins 9 7 0 .563 339 327
New York Jets 9 7 0 .563 348 287
Buffalo Bills 6 10 0 .375 255 367
Indianapolis Colts 3 13 0 .188 313 401
AFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
(2) Pittsburgh Steelers 11 5 0 .688 372 307
(5) Jacksonville Jaguars 11 5 0 .688 394 318
Tennessee Oilers 8 8 0 .500 333 310
Cincinnati Bengals 7 9 0 .438 355 405
Baltimore Ravens 6 9 1 .406 326 345
AFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
(1) Kansas City Chiefs 13 3 0 .813 375 232
(4) Denver Broncos 12 4 0 .750 472 287
Seattle Seahawks 8 8 0 .500 365 362
Oakland Raiders 4 12 0 .250 324 419
San Diego Chargers 4 12 0 .250 266 425
NFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
(3) New York Giants 10 5 1 .656 307 265
Washington Redskins 8 7 1 .531 327 289
Philadelphia Eagles 6 9 1 .406 317 372
Dallas Cowboys 6 10 0 .375 304 314
Arizona Cardinals 4 12 0 .250 283 379
NFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
(2) Green Bay Packers 13 3 0 .813 422 282
(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 6 0 .625 299 263
(5) Detroit Lions 9 7 0 .563 379 306
(6) Minnesota Vikings 9 7 0 .563 354 359
Chicago Bears 4 12 0 .250 263 421
NFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
(1) San Francisco 49ers 13 3 0 .813 375 265
Carolina Panthers 7 9 0 .438 265 314
Atlanta Falcons 7 9 0 .438 320 361
New Orleans Saints 6 10 0 .375 237 327
St. Louis Rams 5 11 0 .313 299 359


Tiebreakers[edit]

  • Miami finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Pittsburgh finished ahead of Jacksonville in the AFC Central based on better net division points (78 to Jaguars' 23).
  • Oakland finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on better division record (2–6 to Chargers' 1–7).
  • San Francisco was the top NFC playoff seed based on better conference record than Green Bay (11–1 to Packers' 10–2).
  • Detroit finished ahead of Minnesota in the NFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Carolina finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).

Players of the Month[edit]

AFC[edit]

1997 Offensive Defensive Special Teams
September RB – Terrell Davis, Denver LB – Chris Slade, New England K – Matt Stover, Baltimore
October RB – Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh DE – Bruce Smith, Buffalo K – Greg Davis, San Diego
November QB – John Elway, Denver S – James Wood, Kansas City WR-PR – Eric Metcalf, San Diego
December WR – Keenan McCardell, Jacksonville LB – Derrick Thomas, Kansas City K – Pete Stoyanovich, Kansas City

NFC[edit]

1997 Offensive Defensive Special Teams
September WR – Jake Reed, Minnesota DT – Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay K – Richie Cunningham, Dallas
October RB – Barry Sanders, Detroit DT – John Randle, Minnesota P – Matt Turk, Washington
November RB – Barry Sanders, Detroit DT – Dana Stubblefield, San Francisco K – Doug Brien, New Orleans
December RB – Barry Sanders, Detroit CB – Jason Sehorn, New York Giants RB-KR – Byron Hanspard, Atlanta


Playoffs[edit]

                                   
December 28, 1997 - Houlihan's Stadium   January 4, 1998 - Lambeau Field          
 5  Detroit  10
 4  Tampa Bay  7
 4  Tampa Bay  20     January 11, 1998 - 3Com Park at Candlestick Point
 2  Green Bay  21  
NFC
December 27, 1997 - Giants Stadium  2  Green Bay  23
January 3, 1998 - 3Com Park at Candlestick Point
   1  San Francisco  10  
 6  Minnesota  23 NFC Championship
 6  Minnesota  22
 3  New York Giants  22   January 25, 1998 - Qualcomm Stadium
 1  San Francisco  38  
Wild Card Playoffs  
Divisional Playoffs
December 27, 1997 - Mile High Stadium  N2  Green Bay  24
January 4, 1998 - Arrowhead Stadium
   A4  Denver  31
 5  Jacksonville  17 Super Bowl XXXII
 4  Denver  14
 4  Denver  42     January 11, 1998 - Three Rivers Stadium
 1  Kansas City  10  
AFC
December 28, 1997 - Foxboro Stadium  4  Denver  24
January 3, 1998 - Three Rivers Stadium
   2  Pittsburgh  21  
 6  Miami  3 AFC Championship
 3  New England  6
 3  New England  17  
 2  Pittsburgh  7  

Statistical leaders[edit]

Team[edit]

Points scored Denver Broncos (472)
Total yards gained Denver Broncos (5,872)
Yards rushing Pittsburgh Steelers (2,479)
Yards passing Seattle Seahawks (3,959)
Fewest points allowed Kansas City Chiefs (232)
Fewest total yards allowed San Francisco 49ers (4,013)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (1,318)
Fewest passing yards allowed Dallas Cowboys (2,522)

Individual[edit]

Scoring Mike Hollis, Jacksonville (134 points)
Touchdowns Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Miami (16 TDs)
Most field goals made Richie Cunningham, Dallas (34 FGs)
Rushing Barry Sanders, Detroit, (2,053 yards)
Passing Steve Young, San Francisco (104.7 rating)
Passing touchdowns Brett Favre, Green Bay (35 TDs)
Pass receiving Tim Brown, Oakland and Herman Moore, Detroit (104 catches)
Pass receiving yards Rob Moore, Arizona (1,584)
Punt returns Jermaine Lewis, Baltimore (15.6 average yards)
Kickoff returns Michael Bates, Carolina (27.3 average yards)
Interceptions Ryan McNeil, St. Louis (9)
Punting Mark Royals, New Orleans (45.9 average yards)
Sacks John Randle, Minnesota (15.5)

Awards[edit]

Most Valuable Players Brett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay and Barry Sanders, Running Back, Detroit
Coach of the Year Jim Fassel, New York Giants
Offensive Player of the Year Barry Sanders, Running Back, Detroit
Defensive Player of the Year Dana Stubblefield, Defensive Tackle, San Francisco
Offensive Rookie of the Year Warrick Dunn, Running Back, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year Peter Boulware, Linebacker, Baltimore

External links[edit]

References[edit]