2012 NFL season

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This article is about the American football season in the United States. For the Gaelic football season in Ireland, see 2012 National Football League (Ireland).
2012 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 5 – December 30, 2012
Playoffs
Start date January 5, 2013
AFC Champions Baltimore Ravens
NFC Champions San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XLVII
Date February 3, 2013
Site Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Baltimore Ravens
Pro Bowl
Date January 27, 2013
Site Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
National Football League seasons
 < 2011 2013 > 

The 2012 NFL season, the 93rd regular season of the National Football League, began on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, with the defending Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys in the 2012 NFL Kickoff game at MetLife Stadium, and ended with Super Bowl XLVII, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 3, 2013, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, with the Jim Harbaugh-coached San Francisco 49ers facing the John Harbaugh-coached Baltimore Ravens. Super Bowl XLVII marked the first time two brothers were head coaches for opposing teams in the championship game.

Referee labor dispute[edit]

In 2005, the NFL and NFL Referees Association agreed to a contract that would last through the 2011 season. In 2011, the officials' union had planned to use a contract clause to reopen negotiations a year early, but this failed to occur due to the 2011 NFL lockout.[1]

By June 2012, the league and the officials' union had not yet come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, thus failing to resolve the labor dispute. The main issues between the union and the league were changes to the retirement plan, salaries, and personnel. On June 4, 2012, the NFL announced it would begin hiring replacement officials.[1][2][3]

On September 26, 2012, an agreement was reached to end the lockout after increasing criticism of the NFL and the performance of the replacement officials.[4][5] The contentious nature of the replacement officials' decision at the end of the Green Bay Packers–Seattle Seahawks game two days earlier was widely considered to have been the tipping point that finally led to an agreement.[6] NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the game "may have pushed the parties further along" in negotiations.[7]

Schedule[edit]

NFL Draft[edit]

The 2012 NFL Draft was held from April 26 to 28, 2012 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.[8] With the first pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford.

Late Sunday doubleheader kickoff time change[edit]

The league announced on June 28 that all late Sunday doubleheader games will be moved ten minutes later from 4:15 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. Late games broadcast on the single game network will still remain at 4:05 p.m. The league cited 44 early games from the 2009 to 2011 seasons in which part of the audience had to be switched immediately to the kickoff of their home team's doubleheader game, and thus miss the end of the first game.[9] The 4:15 p.m. late doubleheader kickoff time dates back to the 1998 season when the NFL moved it from 4:05 p.m. for the same reason.

Matchups[edit]

As per the NFL's scheduling formula, the intraconference and interconference matchups were:[10]

Intraconference

Interconference


Other highlights[edit]

Highlights of the 2012 schedule include:

  • NFL Kickoff Game: The 2012 regular season began on Wednesday, September 5, as the defending Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants hosted the Dallas Cowboys, and the Cowboys beat the Giants 24–17. The game was moved from its usual Thursday slot to avoid conflict with the last day of the Democratic National Convention.
  • More Thursday night games: On February 3, 2012, commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the number of Thursday night games on the NFL Network will increase from eight to 13 games from weeks 2 through 15, excluding Week 12 (the Thanksgiving night game will now air on NBC).[11] This will ensure that every team will have at least one prime time game.[12]
  • International Series: The 2012 International Series game featured the St. Louis Rams hosting the New England Patriots on October 28, at 1:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. GMT) on CBS, at the permanent International Series home—Wembley Stadium in London, England.[13] The Patriots won the game 45–7. Though the league had originally promised to add a second game in Ireland,[14] Scotland[15] or Wales[16] beginning in 2012,[17] the league canceled the game, citing the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as a conflict (the league canceled a second International Series game in 2010 as well, citing the ongoing negotiations of the collective bargaining agreement). This was to be the first of three consecutive International Series appearances for the Rams, but the Rams announced they would no longer take part in the 2013 and 2014 editions due to fan backlash in St. Louis;[18] beginning in 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars will serve as the permanent International Series tenant instead.[19]
  • Redskins Rule: The last Washington Redskins home game before the 2012 Presidential Election took place on November 4 against the Carolina Panthers. According to the "Redskins Rule," because the Redskins lost that game 21–13, the incumbent President was forecast to lose his bid for re-election on Election Day. In the end, the Redskins Rule failed to come to fruition.
  • Thanksgiving Day games: Three games were played on Thursday, November 22. The two traditional Thanksgiving games saw the Houston Texans defeat the Detroit Lions, 34–31 in overtime; followed by the Washington Redskins defeat their longtime division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, 38–31. In the prime-time Thanksgiving game, which for the first time aired on NBC, the New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets 49–19. The Patriots scored 35 points in the second quarter, including a return of the "butt fumble" for a touchdown.
  • Bills Toronto Series. The fifth and, under current contract, final regular-season game of the series, which saw the Buffalo Bills play in Toronto's Rogers Centre, featured the Bills hosting the Seattle Seahawks on December 16. The Seahawks defeated the Bills 50–17. Due to a re-emergence of late-season attendance problems at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Toronto Series will return to its original timing after the end of the 2012 CFL season. Although a preseason game was originally going to be played in 2012 as part of the series, it was canceled due to a lack of available dates at the Rogers Centre.[20]
  • Christmas Eve: Christmas Eve fell on a Monday in 2012. Since the NFL usually avoids scheduling games on the night of Christmas Eve, the ESPN Monday Night game for that week was instead played on Saturday, December 22, between the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions. It was the only Saturday game played during the 2012 regular season and the Falcons won the game 31–18. This also prevented a conflict with ESPN also covering the college football bowl game, the Hawaii Bowl which was played on December 24.
  • Playoffs: The last regular season games were held on Sunday, December 30. The playoffs started on Saturday, January 5, 2013 and the conference championship games were held on Sunday, January 20; the NFC Championship was played at 3:00 p.m. EST on Fox, and the AFC Championship followed at 6:30 p.m. EST on CBS. Super Bowl XLVII, the league's championship game, was on February 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was televised on CBS with kickoff around 6:20 p.m. EST. Pre-game programming began that morning with CBS News Sunday Morning and Face the Nation being Super Bowl-centric followed by "official" pregame programming.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was played August 5 and featured a match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans last appeared in the game in 2007; former Saints offensive tackle Willie Roaf was inducted as part of the Hall of Fame ceremonies. The Cardinals played there for the first time since 1986, when the franchise was still located in St. Louis. As with the originally announced 2011 game, this matchup broke from the game's usual tradition of featuring two teams from opposing conferences (the 2011 Hall of Fame Game would've featured the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams, but the game was canceled due to the 2011 NFL lockout).[21] The game, normally airing on NBC, instead aired this season on NFL Network due to NBC airing the 2012 Summer Olympics, as it had done in 2007. The Saints defeated the Cardinals, 17–10. The remainder of the 2012 preseason matchups were revealed on April 4.[22]

The November 11 game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams ended in a rare tied game, with each team scoring 24 points, none in the overtime period. Prior to this, the last tie game had been in 2008.[23]

The 2013 Pro Bowl was held in Hawaii on January 27, 2013, after New Orleans was briefly considered as a site.[24] Originally, the NFL delayed announcing a date or venue for the game, and even considered eliminating the game altogether due to the NFL's displeasure with the quality of play in the 2012 Pro Bowl.[25]

Scheduling changes[edit]

The following games were rescheduled by the NFL using flexible scheduling to promote what the NFL deems to be its best games, typically because of their playoff implications:

  • Week 11: The ColtsPatriots game was moved from 1:00 p.m. EST to 4:25 p.m. EST.[26]
  • Week 16: The 49ersSeahawks game, originally scheduled at 4:25 p.m. EST on Fox, was flexed into the 8:20 p.m. EST time slot on NBC Sunday Night Football. The ChargersJets game, originally scheduled at that time and network, was moved back to the 1:00 p.m. EST time slot on CBS, while the GiantsRavens game was moved from 1:00 p.m. EST to 4:25 p.m. EST.[27]
  • Week 17: The CowboysRedskins game, originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. EST, was selected as the final Sunday Night Football game. The Dolphins–Patriots and PackersVikings games were moved from 1:00 p.m. EST to 4:25 p.m. EST.[28]

Regular season standings[edit]

Playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green

AFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(2) New England Patriots[a] 12 4 0 .750 557 331 Details
Miami Dolphins 7 9 0 .438 288 317 Details
New York Jets[b] 6 10 0 .375 281 375 Details
Buffalo Bills 6 10 0 .375 344 435 Details
AFC North
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(4) Baltimore Ravens[c] 10 6 0 .625 398 344 Details
(6) Cincinnati Bengals 10 6 0 .625 391 320 Details
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 8 0 .500 336 314 Details
Cleveland Browns 5 11 0 .313 302 368 Details
AFC South
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(3) Houston Texans 12 4 0 .750 416 331 Details
(5) Indianapolis Colts 11 5 0 .688 357 387 Details
Tennessee Titans 6 10 0 .375 330 471 Details
Jacksonville Jaguars 2 14 0 .125 255 444 Details
AFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(1) Denver Broncos 13 3 0 .813 481 289 Details
San Diego Chargers 7 9 0 .438 350 350 Details
Oakland Raiders 4 12 0 .250 290 443 Details
Kansas City Chiefs 2 14 0 .125 211 425 Details
NFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(4) Washington Redskins 10 6 0 .625 436 388 Details
New York Giants 9 7 0 .563 429 344 Details
Dallas Cowboys 8 8 0 .500 376 400 Details
Philadelphia Eagles 4 12 0 .250 280 444 Details
NFC North
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(3) Green Bay Packers 11 5 0 .688 433 336 Details
(6) Minnesota Vikings[d] 10 6 0 .625 379 348 Details
Chicago Bears 10 6 0 .625 375 277 Details
Detroit Lions 4 12 0 .250 372 437 Details
NFC South
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(1) Atlanta Falcons 13 3 0 .813 419 299 Details
Carolina Panthers[e] 7 9 0 .438 357 363 Details
New Orleans Saints[f] 7 9 0 .438 461 454 Details
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 9 0 .438 389 394 Details
NFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(2) San Francisco 49ers 11 4 1 .719 397 273 Details
(5) Seattle Seahawks 11 5 0 .688 412 245 Details
St. Louis Rams 7 8 1 .469 299 348 Details
Arizona Cardinals 5 11 0 .313 250 357 Details


Tie-breakers[edit]

  • a New England clinched the AFC's No. 2 seed over Houston based on a head-to-head victory.
  • b New York Jets finished ahead of Buffalo in the AFC East based on record versus common opponents (5–7 to 3–9).
  • c Baltimore clinched the AFC North title over Cincinnati based on a better divisional record (4–2 to 3–3).
  • d Minnesota finished ahead of Chicago based on a better divisional record (4–2 to 3–3).
  • e Carolina and New Orleans finished ahead of Tampa Bay in the NFC South based on record versus common opponents (5–5 to Tampa Bay's 4–6), while Carolina finished in second place based on a head-to-head sweep over New Orleans.
  • f New Orleans finished in third place in the NFC South based on a head-to-head sweep over Tampa Bay.

Postseason[edit]

Playoff seeds
Seed AFC NFC
1 Denver Broncos (West winner) Atlanta Falcons (South winner)
2 New England Patriots (East winner) San Francisco 49ers (West winner)
3 Houston Texans (South winner) Green Bay Packers (North winner)
4 Baltimore Ravens (North winner) Washington Redskins (East winner)
5 Indianapolis Colts (wild card) Seattle Seahawks (wild card)
6 Cincinnati Bengals (wild card) Minnesota Vikings (wild card)
For details on the NFL playoff format, see National Football League playoffs#Current playoff system.

Bracket[edit]

                                   
Jan. 6 – M&T Bank Stadium   Jan. 12 – Sports Authority Field          
  5   Indianapolis   9
  4   Baltimore  38**
  4   Baltimore   24     Jan. 20 – Gillette Stadium
  1   Denver   35  
AFC
Jan. 5 – Reliant Stadium   4   Baltimore   28
Jan. 13 – Gillette Stadium
    2   New England   13  
  6   Cincinnati   13 AFC Championship
  3   Houston   28
  3   Houston   19   Feb. 3 – Superdome
  2   New England   41  
Wild Card Playoffs  
Divisional Playoffs
Jan. 5 – Lambeau Field  A4    Baltimore   34
Jan. 12 – Candlestick Park
   N2    San Francisco   31
  6   Minnesota   10 Super Bowl XLVII
  3   Green Bay   31
  3   Green Bay   24     Jan. 20 – Georgia Dome
  2   San Francisco   45  
NFC
Jan. 6 – FedExField   2   San Francisco   28
Jan. 13 – Georgia Dome
    1   Atlanta   24  
  5   Seattle   24 NFC Championship
  5   Seattle   28
  4   Washington   14  
  1   Atlanta   30  


** Indicates double-overtime victory

Media changes[edit]

On December 14, 2011, the NFL announced that the Thanksgiving night game will move from the NFL Network to NBC.[29] All of the other aforementioned Thursday night games will be televised on the NFL Network.

Also on that day, the league extended their contracts with their TV broadcasters through 2022, although many of the new provisions (such as expanding flexible scheduling to allow the shifting of AFC and NFC games between CBS and Fox; and NBC giving up one of its two wild card playoff games in exchange for a divisional round game) will not take effect until 2014.[29]

ESPN will make an additional cut to its Monday Night Football broadcasts, removing Ron Jaworski from the broadcast booth and moving to a two-man announcing crew; Mike Tirico will continue on play-by-play while Jon Gruden continues as the sole color commentator.[30] One year prior, the network had switched from two sideline reporters to one.

The 2013 Pro Bowl will be televised on NBC.[31] Under the current rotating TV contract, the network that broadcasts the Super Bowl will also broadcast the same year's Pro Bowl. CBS, the network broadcasting the 2013 Super Bowl, withdrew from the game and will not air it at all.

The NFL authorized a new rule loosening the league's blackout restrictions during the 2012 offseason. For the first time in NFL history, the new rule will no longer require a stadium to be sold out to televise a game; instead, teams will be allowed to set a benchmark anywhere from 85 to 100 percent of the stadium's non-premium seats. Any seats sold beyond that benchmark will be subject to heavier revenue sharing.[32] Four clubs opted to set the lower TV threshold: the Miami Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[33] At least four other teams expressly refused to lower their threshold; one case, that of the Buffalo Bills, was particularly controversial, as Buffalo congressman Brian Higgins had lobbied for the loosening of the blackout restrictions only for the Bills to rebuff his efforts, saying such a move would threaten the team's revenue.[34]

The league is also attempting to reduce blackouts by improving the fan experience at each stadium. This includes displaying on each stadium's Jumbotron the same video that referees see during each instant replay review, and relaxing all rules regarding crowd noise.[35]

Rule changes[edit]

The following rule changes have been approved by the competition committee for the 2012 season:

  • The Replay Booth can initiate replay reviews on turnover plays at any time during the game, similar to a change made in the 2011 season regarding booth reviews on scoring plays outside of the final 2:00 of the game or in overtime. The penalty for throwing a challenge flag immediately after such "unchallengable" plays was also modified: in addition to the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Replay Booth will automatically rule that the call will stand without initiating a replay review[36][37](this part of the rule was repealed prior to the 2013 season)
  • Instant Replay is also expanded to include the following situations
    • A Ruling of "runner out of Bounds" when there is a Fumble and a recovery following that fumble
    • A Ruling of "incomplete Forward Pass" when there is a Backward Pass and a recovery following the backward pass[38]
  • The overtime rules in the playoffs (adopted for the 2010 season) would be extended to the regular season. Instead of a straight sudden death, the game will not immediately end if the team that wins the coin toss only scores a field goal on its first possession (they can still win the game if they score a touchdown). Instead, the other team gets a possession. If the coin toss loser then scores a touchdown, it is declared the winner. If the score is tied after both teams had a possession whether the coin toss loser scored a field goal to tie it or punted it away, then it goes back to sudden death. If the score remains tied at the end of overtime, the game ends in a tie.
    • The first regular season game that the new overtime rules were used was a Week 1 contest between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota took the opening kickoff of overtime and scored on a field goal, then stopped Jacksonville on fourth down.
    • The first regular season game where both teams scored a field goal on their respective first possessions of overtime was the Week 11 game between the Jaguars and the Houston Texans. The Texans then won the game, becoming the first NFL team to score twice in overtime under the new format.
  • The penalty for 12 men on the field (not in the huddle) is changed from a live-ball foul to a dead-ball foul, with the whistle being blown if the defense has 12 men on the field and the "snap is imminent".
  • Adding anyone who is subject to a crack-back block to the list of defenseless players.[39]
  • Last names on uniforms can now include generational suffixes such as Roman numerals (in the case of Robert Griffin III), Junior (Jr.), and Senior (Sr.) designations.[40]

Other changes[edit]

On August 30, 2012, the owners and NFLPA agreed to the following changes regarding player movement:[41]

  • The trade deadline has been set as the Tuesday following week 8 of the season. Previously, the trade deadline was the Tuesday following week 6. The deadline was moved back another two days to November 1 due to potential complications regarding Hurricane Sandy as league offices were closed due to the storm.[42]
  • Teams may designate one player who had been placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the season to return to the 53-man roster later in the season and play. That player is eligible to return to practice after week 6 and to play after week 8.

Controversies[edit]

Saints bounty scandal[edit]

In 2012, the New Orleans Saints were discovered to have run a "slush fund" under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, that paid out bounuses, called "bounties", to purposely injure offensive players that the Saints were playing against. The system was known to have operated during Williams's time in Buffalo[43] and Washington.[44] Rumors started in 2009 during the Saints Super Bowl XLIV run in the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Vikings, where the Saints defense was allegedly trying to hurt Viking quarterback Brett Favre.[45][46] Other than the Vikings, the Saints also allegedly targeted Chicago Bears[47] and Carolina Panthers[48] players, and the program became even more notorious in the 2012 NFL Divisional Playoff Game against the San Francisco 49ers, when filmmaker Sean Pamphilon released audio tapes of Williams telling his players to injure a select group of 49ers, with one of them being running back Kendall Hunter, and to knock him out, as well as going after Kyle Williams because of his past history of concussions. Williams also told them to injure Vernon Davis' ankles and tear wide receiver Michael Crabtree's ACL. According to Pamphilon, Williams also appeared to put a bounty on quarterback Alex Smith after he told his men to hit Smith in the chin, "then he rubs his thumb against his index and middle fingers – the cash sign – and says, I got the first one. I got the first one. Go get it. Go lay that [expletive] out."[49]

Ultimately, Goodell handed down one of the harshest penalties in league history, by suspending Williams indefinitely, head coach Sean Payton for the rest of the 2012 season, interim head coach Joe Vitt for the first 6 games, and general manager Mickey Loomis for 8 games.[50] Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was also suspended for the season, as well as defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove (now with Green Bay) and Will Smith for 8 and 4 games, respectively. Former Saints and current Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita was also suspended for 3 games.[51] The player's suspensions were later thrown out on appeal.[52]

Chargers Stickum[edit]

During the Monday Night Football game on October 15 between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos, officials checked the hands of Chargers players, under the suspicion that players were using "Stickum" or a similar banned adhesive on players' towels to gain a competitive edge.[53] Chargers' head coach Norv Turner strenuously denied the accusations.[53] The towels were revealed to have Gorilla Gold Grip Enhancer.[54] The Chargers were fined $20,000 by the NFL for failing to immediately surrender team towels when requested, but were cleared of illegal substance use.[55] Gorilla Gold was subsequently banned from use by the NFL.[54]

League averages[edit]

There were a total of 11,651 points scored during the 2012 NFL regular season. The average points scored among all the teams in the NFL was 22.8 points per game.

The New England Patriots had the highest point differential, scoring an average of 14.1 points more than their opponents. The Kansas City Chiefs had the lowest point differential scoring an average of 13.4 points less than their opponents.

Records[edit]

  • Jason Hanson set the record for most consecutive seasons with one team. He has been the kicker for the Detroit Lions for 21 seasons.[56]
  • Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens broke Rod Woodson's record for interception return yardage in a week one game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is now the all-time leader in interception return yards with 1,541.[57]
  • Robert Griffin III became the only player in NFL history to pass for 300+ yards and 2 touchdowns without throwing an interception in his first start.[57]
  • David Akers tied the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards).[58]
  • Peyton Manning joined Dan Marino and Brett Favre as the only players to throw at least 400 touchdowns.[59]
  • Week 1 set a record for being the highest scoring opening week in NFL history. The new record of 791 points is 3 points higher than the 2002 record. Five teams scored more than 40 points, also the most in NFL history.[60]
  • NFL sets record with 20 teams at 1–1.[61]
  • Drew Brees' record streak of consecutive games with 300 plus yards passing ended at 9 games in a week 3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. His streak began in week 10 of the 2011 season.[62][63]
  • Danny Amendola of the St. Louis Rams had 12 receptions in the first half of the week two game vs. Washington to tie the NFL record for most receptions in the first half set by the Indianapolis Colts' Reggie Wayne in 2007.[64]
  • The Tennessee Titans scored a record five touchdowns of 60-plus yards in one game (1 punt return, 2 pass plays, 1 kickoff return, 1 fumble return) against the Detroit Lions in week 3.[65][66]
  • The week 3 game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens produced an NFL record 13 first downs via penalties. Of the 13, New England was awarded 8 and Baltimore 5.[67]
  • In week 4, Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein became the first player in league history to make kicks from 50-plus and 60-plus yards in the same game.[68]
  • Drew Brees' record of 48 consecutive games with a touchdown pass in week 5 vs. San Diego (the first team Brees played for) broke Johnny Unitas' record that had stood since 1960.[69] The streak ended at 54 games in week thirteen against the Atlanta Falcons.[70][71]
  • Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs set a new record by intercepting a pass for a touchdown in both Week 4 and Week 5. They became the first pair of teammates in NFL history to each return an interception for a touchdown in consecutive games.[72]
  • In week five the San Francisco 49ers became the first team in NFL history with 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing vs. the Buffalo Bills.[73]
  • Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans ran for an 83-yard touchdown in the first quarter of the Titans' win over the Buffalo Bills to become the first player in NFL history with four 80-plus yard touchdown runs in a career.[74]
  • The Kansas City Chiefs set a record of seven consecutive games without holding a lead, previously set by the 1929 Buffalo Bisons.[75]
  • Week 8: New England gained over 350 yards of total offense for the 17th straight game, breaking an NFL record set by the Rams in 1999–2000.[76]
  • By allowing 530 yards by the Broncos in week eight, the New Orleans Saints became the first team to allow 400-plus yards in seven games in a row since 1950, which is as far back as STATS LLC can search its NFL database.[77] Record ended at ten games through week 11.[78]
  • In week 8, Jason Witten of the Cowboys caught 18 passes against the Giants. This set a new NFL record for catches in a game by a tight end, and was the third most in a single game by any player in NFL history.[79]
  • Through week eight Peyton Manning has increased his record of most regular season games with 300 plus yards passing to 68 games.[80]
  • Andrew Luck broke the NFL's single-game rookie record when he threw for 433 yards to lead the Indianapolis Colts past the Miami Dolphins.[81]
  • Chicago became the first team in NFL history to record a touchdown pass, a touchdown run, an interception return for a touchdown, and a blocked kick/punt for a score in the same quarter in their week 9 game against the Tennessee Titans.[82]
  • Charles Tillman became the first player in the NFL to force four fumbles in one game since the stat became tracked in 1991.[82]
  • Doug Martin became the first player in league history to record touchdown runs of 70-plus, 65-plus, and 45-plus yards in a single game.[83] He joined Denver's Mike Anderson as the only players in league history with at least 250 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a game.[84]
  • Jacoby Jones of the Ravens became the first player in league history with two career kickoff returns of at least 105 yards. He returned one for 108 yards against Dallas; he followed it up a few weeks later when he returned one for 105 yards against Oakland, simultaneously tying the record for longest kickoff return on the former return.[85][86]
  • Andrew Luck set the rookie record with six games of at least 300 yards passing.[87]
  • Leon Washington of the Seahawks returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the eighth time to tie the NFL career record.[88]
  • Calvin Johnson of the Lions broke the NFL season receiving yards record against the Falcons on December 22.[89]
  • Blair Walsh broke the NFL single season record for most field goals made in a season of over 50 yards on December 23 against the Texans.[90]
  • Placekicker Kai Forbath of the Redskins set a new NFL record with 17 consecutive field goals to start a career.[91]
  • Andrew Luck broke the rookie record for passing yards in a season on December 23.[92]
  • Jason Witten broke the NFL single season record for catches by a tight end on December 23.[93]
  • Adrian Peterson became the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season by rushing for 199 yards in Week 17, bringing his season total to 2,097 rushing yards. This also brings him just nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's record set in 1984 and gives him the all-time second best single season record for rushing yards.[94]
  • Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning's rookie record for touchdown passes in a single season with 26.[95]
  • The New England Patriots gained an NFL record 444 first downs.[96]
  • The 2012 regular season set the NFL record for total points scored in a season with 11,651; the 22.8 points-per-game for each team is also the highest since the AFL-NFL merger.[97]
  • The Minnesota Vikings set the NFL record for most playoff losses with 27.
  • The Minnesota Vikings broke the NFL record for most road playoff losses with 16.
  • The New England Patriots tied the St. Louis Rams' record set from 1999–2001 for the most consecutive seasons scoring 500 or more points with three.
  • Robert Griffin III set a passer rating of 102.4, to break Ben Roethlisberger's record for the highest rating by a rookie.
  • Most home playoff games won: 20, San Francisco 49ers
  • Colin Kaepernick set record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game, with 181 yards.[98]
  • Tom Brady set the record for most playoff games won with 17.[99]
  • Most conference championship games played starting quarterback (tie): 7, Tom Brady
  • Russell Wilson set a rookie record for passing yards in a playoff game : 385.
  • Joe Flacco tied Joe Montana's record for most touchdown passes (11) without an interception in a postseason

Uniforms[edit]

  • The Carolina Panthers unveiled an updated logo and word mark in late January 2012,[100] though it has been reported that the actual uniforms will not be altered at the present time.[101]
  • The Denver Broncos switched their primary home jersey color from navy blue to orange. The orange jerseys that served as the team's alternate colored jersey from 2002–2011 became the primary home jersey, while the navy blue jerseys that served as the team's primary home jersey from 1997–2011 switched to the alternate designation. The change was made due to overwhelming popularity with fans, who clamored for the team to return to wearing orange at home, which was the team's predominant home jersey color from 1962–1996.[102]
  • The Houston Texans will celebrate 10 years as a franchise by wearing an anniversary patch throughout the season.[103]
  • The Kansas City Chiefs debuted captains' patches to their uniforms for the first time in the Week 10 (November 12, 2012) game against Pittsburgh. The patches would remain through the rest of the season but were removed in 2013.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers unveiled a new throwback uniform in April 2012, which was worn in games against the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens.[105] The uniforms, based on the 1934 Pittsburgh Pirates (the predecessors to the Steelers), feature broad black and Aztec gold horizontal stripes across the jerseys and socks, reminiscent of bumblebees and prison uniforms.[106]
  • The Seattle Seahawks replaced Seahawk blue with College Navy as the color of their primary uniforms. Their new uniforms consist of a navy blue jersey as their primary home jerseys, a white jersey as their primary away jersey, and a wolf gray jersey as an alternate. The Seahawks have three pairs of pants: navy blue with action green feather trim, white with navy blue feather trim, and wolf gray with navy blue feather trim. Each pair of pants, as well as the collar of the jerseys, feature 12 feathers, in honor of the fans, who refer to themselves as the '12th Man'. The Seahawks also tweaked their logo, by changing the lower left stripe from light blue to gray.[107]
  • The Baltimore Ravens dedicated their season to former owner and founder Art Modell, who died on September 6, 2012.[111] On Week 1, all team members wore an "Art" decal on their helmets, and for the rest of their season, they wore an "Art" patch on the left side of their jerseys.
  • During the 2012 Pro Bowl, Nike debuted new team color specific cleats and new team specific Vapor Jet gloves. Similar to gloves worn at the collegiate level, the Vapor Jet gloves feature individual team colors and team logos on the glove palms.[112][113]
  • Nike became the official uniform provider for the NFL, succeeding Reebok, which had a decade-long partnership in that capacity. On April 3, Nike unveiled the new uniforms for all 32 teams.[114][115] Cosmetically, the new jerseys did not show drastic differences save for the aforementioned changes to the Seattle Seahawks' uniforms.[116]
  • The Carolina Panthers' new jersey has the phrase "KEEP POUNDING" inside the collar which commemorates former Panther Sam Mills' battle with cancer.
  • Nike's new jerseys also introduced what the company calls a "body-contoured fit".[117] However, several players, primarily heavier players such as offensive linemen, reported that the new, tighter-fitting uniforms made them "look fat".[117]
  • Introduced in Week 5 after the end of the referee lockout, the new referee uniform used the NFL's "Orbit" font that the league uses in its branding and marketing.[118]

Coaching changes[edit]

Pre-season changes[edit]

Team: 2011 head coach:
at start of season
2011 interim head coach: 2012 replacement: Reason for leaving: Story/Accomplishments:
Jacksonville Jaguars Jack Del Rio Mel Tucker Mike Mularkey Fired Del Rio was fired after compiling a 69–73 (.486) record (including postseason games) in 8¾ seasons as head coach; the team has not made the playoffs since 2007. Del Rio was fired at the same time that Wayne Weaver, the owner of the Jaguars, announced his intentions to sell the team to Pakistani-American automotive parts builder Shahid Khan.[120] Del Rio later became defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.

Mularkey, previously the head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2004–2005, had most recently been offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Tucker remains on the Jaguars staff.

Kansas City Chiefs Todd Haley Romeo Crennel Fired Haley compiled a 19–27 (.413) record, including one postseason loss, in nearly 3 seasons with the Chiefs. Team ownership cited inconsistent play and a lack of progress in their decision; Haley was also cited for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in what turned out to be his final game. In 2012, he became offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Crennel was the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs when he was promoted, and had previously served as head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2005–2008.

Miami Dolphins Tony Sparano Todd Bowles Joe Philbin Fired Sparano compiled a 29–33 (.468) record, including one postseason loss, in nearly 4 seasons with the Dolphins. Ongoing speculation regarding Sparano's future in Miami prompted Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to dismiss Sparano prior to the end of the season instead of letting the speculation become a further distraction. Sparano then became offensive coordinator of the New York Jets; Bowles joined the staff of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Dolphins intended on hiring someone from outside the organization in the 2012 offseason[121] and followed through on that intent by hiring Philbin, the former offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers.

St. Louis Rams Steve Spagnuolo Jeff Fisher Fired Spagnuolo compiled a 10–38 (.213) record in three seasons as head coach of the Rams, including a 1–15 record in 2009 and a 2–14 record in 2011. He and general manager Billy Devaney were dismissed concurrently on January 2. Spagnuolo joined the staff of the New Orleans Saints as defensive coordinator.

Fisher, who had spent the previous season out of football, had coached the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise from 1994–2010.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raheem Morris Greg Schiano Fired Morris compiled a 17–31 (.354) record in three seasons as head coach of the Buccaneers and ended the 2011 season with a ten-game losing streak. He subsequently became defensive backs coach for the Washington Redskins.

Schiano had spent the previous 11 seasons in college football, as head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team.

Oakland Raiders Hue Jackson Dennis Allen Fired Jackson compiled an 8–8 (.500) record in his lone season as the Raiders' head coach, but set a league record for penalties. He was dismissed after the Raiders, after the death of longtime owner Al Davis, hired a general manager (Reggie McKenzie, who then decided to hire his own coaching staff). As of 2012, Jackson serves as an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Allen had previously served as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.

Indianapolis Colts Jim Caldwell Chuck Pagano Fired Caldwell was fired after compiling a 28–24 (.538) record (including postseason games) in three seasons as head coach; the team suffered through a 2–14 record in 2011, in which quarterback Peyton Manning sat out the whole season after recovering from multiple neck surgeries. This record was the worst in the league and brought Caldwell's firing as well as that of 15-year general manager Bill Polian, and virtually every skill position player on the offensive side of the ball (including every quarterback on the roster). Caldwell then joined the Baltimore Ravens as quarterbacks coach.

Pagano had previously served as the defensive coordinator of the Ravens.

New Orleans Saints Sean Payton Joe Vitt, Aaron Kromer Suspended Payton was suspended on March 21, 2012 for the 2012 season (starting April 1 and concluding with Super Bowl XLVII) for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, in which players would be rewarded under the table for injury-causing hits.

Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis were also suspended, for six and eight games respectively, and Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator at the time who allegedly oversaw the bounties, was banned indefinitely from the league (at the time of the ban Williams was the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams).

Vitt served as head coach through training camp and the preseason, at which point he began serving his six game suspension and Kromer (the team's offensive line coach) took over as interim coach until Vitt's suspension ended.[122]

In-season[edit]

The following head coaches were replaced in-season:

Team: 2012 head coach: Interim head coach: Reason for leaving: Story/Accomplishments:
Indianapolis Colts Chuck Pagano Bruce Arians Medical leave Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia four weeks into the regular season, forcing him to take an indefinite medical leave of absence, while Arians, the Colts' offensive coordinator, took his place. Pagano returned to the team in Week 17.

Awards[edit]

Players of the Week/Month[edit]

The following were named the top performers during the 2012 season:

Week/
Month
Offensive
Player of the Week/Month
Defensive
Player of the Week/Month
Special Teams
Player of the Week/Month
AFC NFC AFC NFC AFC NFC
1 Joe Flacco (Ravens)[123] Robert Griffin III (Redskins)[124] Tracy Porter (Broncos)[123] Ronde Barber (Buccaneers)[124] Jeremy Kerley (Jets)[123] Blair Walsh (Vikings)[124]
2 Reggie Bush (Dolphins)[125] Hakeem Nicks (Giants)[126] J. J. Watt (Texans)[125] Calais Campbell (Cardinals)[126] Adam Jones (Bengals)[125] Tim Masthay (Packers)[126]
3 Jamaal Charles (Chiefs)[127] Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals)[128] Michael Johnson (Bengals)[127] Chris Clemons (Seahawks)[128] Darius Reynaud (Titans)[127] Lawrence Tynes (Giants)[128]
4 Tom Brady (Patriots)[129] Aaron Rodgers (Packers)[130] Donald Butler (Chargers)[129] Patrick Willis (49ers)[130] Matt Prater (Broncos)[129] Greg Zuerlein (Rams)[130]
Sept. A. J. Green (Bengals)[131] Matt Ryan (Falcons)[131] J. J. Watt (Texans)[131] Tim Jennings (Bears)[131] Darius Reynaud (Titans)[131] Percy Harvin (Vikings)[131]
5 Reggie Wayne (Colts)[132] Drew Brees (Saints)[133] Randy Starks (Dolphins)[132] Charles Tillman (Bears)[133] Shaun Suisham (Steelers)[132] John Hekker (Rams)[133]
6 Peyton Manning (Broncos)[134] Aaron Rodgers (Packers)[135] Jairus Byrd (Bills)[134] Antrel Rolle (Giants)[135] Jacoby Jones (Ravens)[134] Jason Hanson (Lions)[135]
7 Chris Johnson (Titans)[136] Adrian Peterson (Vikings)[137] Lamarr Houston (Raiders)[136] Charles Tillman (Bears)[137] Devin McCourty (Patriots)[136] Andy Lee (49ers)[137]
8 Tom Brady (Patriots)[138] Alex Smith (49ers)[139] Wesley Woodyard (Broncos)[138] Stevie Brown (Giants)[139] Olivier Vernon (Dolphins)[138] Davon House (Packers)[139]
Oct. Peyton Manning (Broncos)[140] Aaron Rodgers (Packers)[140] Cameron Wake (Dolphins)[140] Charles Tillman (Bears)[140] Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders)[140] Lawrence Tynes (Giants)[140]
9 Andrew Luck (Colts)[141] Doug Martin (Buccaneers)[142] Ike Taylor (Steelers)[141] Brian Urlacher (Bears)[142] Trindon Holliday (Broncos)[141] Sherrick McManis (Bears)[142]
10 Andy Dalton (Bengals)[143] Jimmy Graham (Saints)[144] Darius Butler (Colts)[143] Richard Sherman (Seahawks)[144] Jacoby Jones (Ravens)[143] Dwayne Harris (Cowboys)[144]
11 Matt Schaub (Texans)[145] Robert Griffin III (Redskins)[146] Von Miller (Broncos)[145] Aldon Smith (49ers)[146] Leodis McKelvin (Bills)[145] Dan Bailey (Cowboys)[146]
12 Ray Rice (Ravens)[147] Cam Newton (Panthers)[148] D'Qwell Jackson (Browns)[147] Janoris Jenkins (Rams)[148] T. Y. Hilton (Colts)[147] Leon Washington (Seahawks)[148]
Nov. Andre Johnson (Texans)[149] Calvin Johnson (Lions)[149] Von Miller (Broncos)[149] Aldon Smith (49ers)[149] Jacoby Jones (Ravens)[149] Dekoda Watson (Buccaneers)[149]
13 Brady Quinn (Chiefs)[150] Russell Wilson (Seahawks)[151] Carlos Dunlap (Bengals)[150] William Moore (Falcons)[151] Shaun Suisham (Steelers)[150] Greg Zuerlein (Rams)[151]
14 Tom Brady (Patriots)[152] Adrian Peterson (Vikings)[153] Cassius Vaughn (Colts)[152] Luke Kuechly (Panthers)[153] Travis Benjamin (Browns)[152] David Wilson (Giants)[153]
15 Knowshon Moreno (Broncos)[154] Colin Kaepernick (49ers)[155] J. J. Watt (Texans)[154] Brandon Carr (Cowboys)[155] Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders)[154] Blair Walsh (Vikings)[155]
16 Ray Rice (Ravens)[156] Matt Ryan (Falcons)[157] Geno Atkins (Bengals)[156] Julius Peppers (Bears)[157] Micheal Spurlock (Chargers)[156] Red Bryant (Seahawks)[157]
17 Peyton Manning (Broncos)[158] Alfred Morris (Redskins)[159] Vontae Davis (Colts)[158] Stevie Brown (Giants)[159] Darius Reynaud (Titans)[158] Blair Walsh (Vikings)[159]
Dec. Peyton Manning (Broncos)[160] Adrian Peterson (Vikings)[160] J. J. Watt (Texans)[160] London Fletcher (Redskins)[160] Josh Brown (Bengals)[160] Blair Walsh (Vikings)[160]
Week FedEx Air
Player of the Week[161]
(Quarterbacks)
FedEx Ground
Player of the Week[161]
(Running Backs)
Pepsi Max
Rookie of the Week[162]
1 Robert Griffin III (Redskins) C. J. Spiller (Bills) QB Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
2 Eli Manning (Giants) Reggie Bush (Dolphins) RB Trent Richardson (Browns)
3 Joe Flacco (Ravens) Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) Andrew Luck (Colts)
4 Tom Brady (Patriots) Brandon Bolden (Patriots) Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
5 Alex Smith (49ers) Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants) Andrew Luck (Colts)
6 Aaron Rodgers (Packers) Shonn Greene (Jets) Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
7 Drew Brees (Saints) Chris Johnson (Titans) Alfred Morris (Redskins)
8 Tom Brady (Patriots) Doug Martin (Buccaneers) Andrew Luck (Colts)
9 Andrew Luck (Colts) Doug Martin (Buccaneers) Doug Martin (Buccaneers)
10 Joe Flacco (Ravens) Adrian Peterson (Vikings) Russell Wilson (Seahawks)
11 Matt Schaub (Texans) Doug Martin (Buccaneers) Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
12 Robert Griffin III (Redskins) Arian Foster (Texans) Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
13 Russell Wilson (Seahawks) Adrian Peterson (Vikings) Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
14 Tom Brady (Patriots) Adrian Peterson (Vikings) Alfred Morris (Redskins)
15 Matt Ryan (Falcons) Knowshon Moreno (Broncos) Kirk Cousins (Redskins)
16 Aaron Rodgers (Packers) Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) Robert Griffin III (Redskins)
17 Peyton Manning (Broncos) Alfred Morris (Redskins) Alfred Morris (Redskins)
Month Rookie of the Month
Offensive Defensive
Sept. Robert Griffin III[163] Chandler Jones[164]
Oct. Doug Martin[165] Casey Hayward[165]
Nov. Robert Griffin III[166] Lavonte David[166]
Dec. Russell Wilson[167] Luke Kuechly[167]

Season awards[edit]

Further information: 2nd Annual NFL Honors
Award Winner Position Team
AP Offensive Player of the Year Adrian Peterson Running back Minnesota Vikings
AP Defensive Player of the Year J. J. Watt Defensive end Houston Texans
AP Coach of the Year Bruce Arians Head coach Indianapolis Colts
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III Quarterback Washington Redskins
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly Linebacker Carolina Panthers
AP Comeback Player of the Year Peyton Manning Quarterback Denver Broncos
AP Most Valuable Player Adrian Peterson Running back Minnesota Vikings
Pepsi Rookie of the Year Russell Wilson Quarterback Seattle Seahawks
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Joe Flacco Quarterback Baltimore Ravens

Team superlatives[edit]

Offense[edit]

  • Most points scored: New England, 557 (34.8 PPG)
  • Fewest points scored: Kansas City, 211 (13.2 PPG)
  • Most total offensive yards: New England, 6,846
  • Fewest total offensive yards: Arizona, 4,209
  • Most total passing yards: New Orleans, 4,997
  • Fewest total passing yards: Kansas City, 2,713
  • Most rushing yards: Washington, 2,709
  • Fewest rushing yards: Arizona, 1,204

[168]

Defense[edit]

  • Fewest points allowed: Seattle, 245 (15.3 PPG)
  • Most points allowed: Tennessee, 471 (29.4 PPG)
  • Fewest total yards allowed (defense): Pittsburgh, 4,413
  • Most total yards allowed (defense): New Orleans, 7,042
  • Fewest passing yards allowed: Pittsburgh, 2,963
  • Most passing yards allowed (defense): Tampa Bay, 4,758
  • Fewest rushing yards allowed (defense): Tampa Bay, 1,320
  • Most rushing yards allowed (defense): New Orleans, 2,361

[169]

All-Pro Team[edit]

Offense
Quarterback Peyton Manning, Denver
Running back Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle
Fullback Vonta Leach, Baltimore
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Brandon Marshall, Chicago
Tight end Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
Offensive tackle Duane Brown, Houston
Ryan Clady, Denver
Offensive guard Mike Iupati, San Francisco
Jahri Evans, New Orleans
Center Max Unger, Seattle
Defense
Defensive end J. J. Watt, Houston
Cameron Wake, Miami
Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, Cincinnati
Vince Wilfork, New England
Outside linebacker Von Miller, Denver
Aldon Smith, San Francisco
Inside linebacker Patrick Willis, San Francisco
NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco
Cornerback Richard Sherman, Seattle
Charles Tillman, Chicago
Safety Earl Thomas, Seattle
Dashon Goldson, San Francisco


Special teams
Kicker Blair Walsh, Minnesota
Punter Andy Lee, San Francisco
Kick returner Jacoby Jones, Baltimore

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General references