1968 NFL season

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1968 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 14 – December 15, 1968
Playoffs
East Champions Cleveland Browns
West Champions Baltimore Colts
Championship Game
Champions Baltimore Colts

The 1968 NFL season was the 49th regular season of the National Football League. As per the agreement made during the 1967 realignment, the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants switched divisions; the Saints joined the Century Division while the Giants became part of the Capitol Division.

The season ended when the Baltimore Colts defeated the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship Game, only to be defeated by the American Football League's New York Jets in Super Bowl III 16-7 at the Miami Orange Bowl. Subsequently, it was the first time in the history of professional football in which the NFL champion was not crowned as the world champion. One year later, this feat would be repeated, as the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL Champion Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Division races[edit]

The Eastern Conference was split into the Capitol and Century Divisions, and the Western Conference had the Coastal and Central Divisions. In the past, if two teams were tied for the division lead at season's end, a one-game playoff was conducted to break the tie. Starting in 1967, a tiebreaking system was implemented that started with net points in head-to-head competition, followed by the team that had less recently played in a title game. As such, only one team in a division would be the division winner, even if the won-lost record was the same.

Colts and Rams[edit]

For the second straight season, the Colts and Rams waged a tight season long battle for the Coastal Division title. In 1967, the Rams defeated the Colts in the season's final game to claim the title. They appeared headed for a similar showdown in 1968 (they were scheduled to face each other in the season finale in L.A.), as the Rams entered week 13 with a 10-1-1 record while the Colts were 11-1-0. But in the next to last game, the Rams were upset by the Chicago Bears 17-16 in what was known as "the lost down game." The biggest play on the game came when the Rams completed a second down pass to get into field goal range in the final minute, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty. It should have remained second down due to the Bears accepting the penalty on the Rams, but the referees forgot to reset the down marker. After two incomplete passes, the Rams lined up for a fourth down attempt, but the referees waived the Bears offense onto the field on a change of possession; the Bears ran out the clock and the Colts (who had already won earlier in the day) clinched the division. Note that in the now meaningless season finale, the Colts won 28-24.


Week Capitol Century Coastal Central
1 Dallas* 1–0–0 Cleveland 1–0–0 Baltimore* 1–0–0 Minnesota* 1–0–0
2 Dallas* 2–0–0 Cleveland* 1–1–0 Baltimore* 2–0–0 Minnesota* 2–0–0
3 Dallas* 3–0–0 Cleveland* 1–2–0 Baltimore* 3–0–0 Minnesota* 2–1–0
4 Dallas 4–0–0 Cleveland 2–2–0 Baltimore* 4–0–0 Minnesota 3–1–0
5 Dallas 5–0–0 St. Louis* 2–3–0 Baltimore* 5–0–0 Minnesota* 3–2–0
6 Dallas 6–0–0 St. Louis* 3–3–0 Los Angeles 6–0–0 Detroit 3–2–1
7 Dallas 6–1–0 St. Louis* 4–3–0 Baltimore* 6–1–0 Detroit* 3–3–1
8 Dallas 7–1–0 St. Louis* 5–3–0 Baltimore* 7–1–0 Chicago* 4–4–0
9 Dallas 7–2–0 Cleveland 6–3–0 Baltimore* 8–1–0 Chicago* 5–4–0
10 Dallas 8–2–0 Cleveland 7–3–0 Baltimore 9–1–0 Minnesota 6–4–0
11 Dallas 9–2–0 Cleveland 8–3–0 Baltimore 10–1–0 Minnesota 6–5–0
12 Dallas 10–2–0 Cleveland 9–3–0 Baltimore 11–1–0 Chicago* 6–6–0
13 Dallas 11–2–0 Cleveland 10–3–0 Baltimore 12–1–0 Chicago* 7–6–0
14 Dallas 12–2–0 Cleveland 10–4–0 Baltimore 13–1–0 Minnesota 8–6–0
  • indicates more than one team with record

Final standings[edit]

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

Note: Prior to 1972, the NFL did not include tie games when calculating a team's winning percentage in the official standings

Eastern Conference
Capitol Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Dallas Cowboys 12 2 0 .857 431 186
New York Giants 7 7 0 .500 294 325
Washington Redskins 5 9 0 .357 249 358
Philadelphia Eagles 2 12 0 .143 202 351
Century Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Cleveland Browns 10 4 0 .714 394 273
St. Louis Cardinals 9 4 1 .692 325 289
New Orleans Saints 4 9 1 .308 246 327
Pittsburgh Steelers 2 11 1 .154 244 397
Western Conference
Coastal Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Baltimore Colts 13 1 0 .929 402 144
Los Angeles Rams 10 3 1 .769 312 200
San Francisco 49ers 7 6 1 .538 303 310
Atlanta Falcons 2 12 0 .143 170 389
Central Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Minnesota Vikings 8 6 0 .571 282 242
Chicago Bears 7 7 0 .500 250 333
Green Bay Packers 6 7 1 .462 281 227
Detroit Lions 4 8 2 .333 207 241

Playoffs[edit]

Main article: 1968 NFL playoffs
Conference Championship Games NFL Championship Game
December 22, 1968 – Memorial Stadium
 Minnesota Vikings 14  
 Baltimore Colts 24  
 
December 29, 1968 – Cleveland Stadium
     Baltimore Colts 34
   Cleveland Browns 0
December 21, 1968 – Cleveland Stadium
 Dallas Cowboys 20
 Cleveland Browns 31  

Awards[edit]

Most Valuable Player Earl Morrall, Quarterback, Baltimore Colts
Coach of the Year Don Shula, Baltimore Colts
Offensive Rookie of the Year Earl McCullouch, Wide receiver, Detroit
Defensive Rookie of the Year Claude Humphrey, Defensive end, Atlanta

See also[edit]

References[edit]