1969 NFL season

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1969 National Football League season
NFL50th.png
NFL 50th season anniversary logo
Regular season
Duration September 21, 1969 –
December 21, 1969
Playoffs
East Champions Cleveland Browns
West Champions Minnesota Vikings
Championship Game
Champions Minnesota Vikings

The 1969 NFL season was the 50th regular season of the National Football League, and the last one before the AFL-NFL Merger. To honor the NFL's fiftieth season, a special anniversary logo was designed and each player wore a patch on their jerseys with this logo throughout the season.

The Philadelphia Eagles became the first NFL team to play its home games on artificial turf, installed at Franklin Field

As per the agreement made during the 1967 season, the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants switched divisions again, returning to the 1967 alignment.

The season ended when the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Cleveland Browns in the NFL championship game, earning the right to face the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans Tulane Stadium. This was the last awarding of the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy to the NFL champion; the trophy was introduced 35 years earlier in 1934. As was the case the previous season, the NFL Champion was not crowned as the world champion because of the Vikings' 24-7 loss to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. This occurrence can no longer happen, as the AFL and the NFL merged with each other the following season (1970), with 2 separate conferences (the AFC and the NFC) both playing together in the same league (the NFL), with the 2 conference champions playing each other every year in the Super Bowl.

Division races[edit]

Like the previous two seasons, the Eastern Conference was split into the Capitol and Century Divisions, and the Western Conference had the Coastal and Central Divisions. Through 1966, 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 in which head-to-head record, then net points in head-to-head competition, followed by the team that had less recently played in a title game were the tiebreakers. As such, only one team in a division would be the division winner, even if the won-lost record was the same. (This tiebreaker was only needed once in the three years it was in existence, when in 1967 the Rams and Colts tied for the Coastal Division title but the Rams advanced to the playoffs based on their 1–0–1 record vs. the Colts).

The 1969 division races were largely uneventful. All four division winners assumed 1st place by week 5 and never gave up their lead. The closest races were in the Central and Coastal where the Vikings and Rams won their divisions by 2½ games, but the Rams had clinched with four games to play and the Vikings with three games to play. As home field in playoffs was rotated and not determined by a teams' record at that time, the division winners had nothing to play for and the last month of the season was uneventful, save for the Rams' quest for a perfect record, which ended in L.A. in a week 12 loss to the Vikings, 20–13. The other story of note was Vince Lombardi's return to coach the Washington Redskins after a one-year hiatus from coaching; he led the Redskins to a 7-5-2 finish, their first winning record in fifteen years.

Week Capitol Century Coastal Central
1 Washington* 1–0–0 Pittsburgh* 1–0–0 Atlanta* 1–0–0 Green Bay 1–0–0
2 Dallas 2–0–0 Cleveland 2–0–0 Los Angeles 2–0–0 Green Bay 2–0–0
3 Dallas 3–0–0 St. Louis* 2–1–0 Los Angeles 3–0–0 Minnesota* 2–1–0
4 Dallas 4–0–0 N.Y. Giants* 3–1–0 Los Angeles 4–0–0 Minnesota* 3–1–0
5 Dallas 5–0–0 Cleveland 4–1–0 Los Angeles 5–0–0 Minnesota* 4–1–0
6 Dallas 6–0–0 Cleveland 4–1–1 Los Angeles 6–0–0 Minnesota 5–1–0
7 Dallas 6–1–0 Cleveland 5–1–1 Los Angeles 7–0–0 Minnesota 6–1–0
8 Dallas 7–1–0 Cleveland 5–2–1 Los Angeles 8–0–0 Minnesota 7–1–0
9 Dallas 8–1–0 Cleveland 6–2–1 Los Angeles 9–0–0 Minnesota 8–1–0
10 Dallas 8–2–0 Cleveland 7–2–1 Los Angeles 10–0–0 Minnesota 9–1–0
11 Dallas 8–2–1 Cleveland 8–2–1 Los Angeles 11–0–0 Minnesota 10–1–0
12 Dallas 9–2–1 Cleveland 9–2–1 Los Angeles 11–1–0 Minnesota 11–1–0
13 Dallas 10–2–1 Cleveland 10–2–1 Los Angeles 11–2–0 Minnesota 12–1–0
14 Dallas 11–2–1 Cleveland 10–3–1 Los Angeles 11–3–0 Minnesota 12–2–0

*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 11 2 1 .846 369 223
Washington Redskins 7 5 2 .583 307 319
New Orleans Saints 5 9 0 .357 311 393
Philadelphia Eagles 4 9 1 .308 279 377
Century Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Cleveland Browns 10 3 1 .769 351 300
New York Giants 6 8 0 .429 264 298
St. Louis Cardinals 4 9 1 .308 314 389
Pittsburgh Steelers 1 13 0 .071 218 404
Western Conference
Coastal Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Los Angeles Rams 11 3 0 .786 320 243
Baltimore Colts 8 5 1 .615 279 268
Atlanta Falcons 6 8 0 .429 276 268
San Francisco 49ers 4 8 2 .333 277 319
Central Division
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Minnesota Vikings 12 2 0 .857 379 133
Detroit Lions 9 4 1 .692 259 188
Green Bay Packers 8 6 0 .571 269 221
Chicago Bears 1 13 0 .071 210 339

Playoffs[edit]

Main article: 1969 NFL playoffs

In the Eastern Conference championship game, the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys met for the third straight year. The Cowboys had won in 1967 in Dallas and the Browns in 1968 in Cleveland; this was the rubber match before the Browns would move to the American Conference in the 1970 merger/realignment. The Cowboys were favored as they featured the best offense in the NFL, a better record than Cleveland, and were at home. However, the Browns jumped on the Cowboys early and often in cruising to a surprising 38–14 win at the Cotton Bowl.

In the Western Conference, the Vikings were four-point favorites over the Rams in Minnesota. Three weeks earlier, the Vikings (10–1) met the Rams (11–0) in Los Angeles and won, 20–13. This time, the Rams broke out on top and led 17–7 at halftime. After the Vikings scored to make it 17–14, the Rams settled for another short field goal (both Ram field goals came when they could not get a touchdown from inside the 5 yard line; this would ultimately cost them the game) to make it 20–14. Joe Kapp led the Vikings to the go ahead touchdown early in the 4th quarter, helped by a controversial penalty on Rams defender Jim Nettles. Viking receiver John Henderson caught a pass and ran to the Rams 20 yard line where he was tripped up by Eddie Meador. Not sure if the defender made contact and not hearing a whistle, Henderson got up and starting running; Nettles then tackled him and was called for unnecessary roughness. Nettles claimed he never heard a whistle and asked "what was I supposed to do, stand there and watch him run into the end zone?!" With the ball moved inside the 10 yard, Kapp eventually put the Vikings ahead 21-20 with a short touchdown run. Shortly thereafter, Vikings DE Carl Eller sacked Ram QB Roman Gabriel in the end zone to make it 23–20. The Rams forced a Viking punt and began driving for a potential tying field goal or go ahead touchdown but Gabriel was intercepted by Alan Page at the 45 yard line with under two minutes to play to clinch the win. After starting the season with eleven victories, the Rams lost all four games in December; they won the last edition of the third place Playoff Bowl, shutting out Dallas 31–0 on January 3.

In the NFL final in Minnesota on January 4, the Browns were thoroughly dominated for the second year in a row. In 1968, the Colts beat them 34–0 in Cleveland; in this game the Vikings won 27–7, completely shutting down the Browns offense while Minnesota gained nearly 200 rushing yards.


Conference Championship Games NFL Championship Game
December 28, 1969 – Cotton Bowl
 Cleveland Browns 38  
 Dallas Cowboys 14  
 
January 4, 1970 – Metropolitan Stadium
     Cleveland Browns 7
   Minnesota Vikings 27
December 27, 1969 – Metropolitan Stadium
 Los Angeles Rams 20
 Minnesota Vikings 23  


Awards[edit]

Most Valuable Player Roman Gabriel, Quarterback, L.A. Rams
Coach of the Year Bud Grant, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the Year Calvin Hill, Running Back, Dallas
Defensive Rookie of the Year Joe Greene, Defensive End, Pittsburgh

See also[edit]

References[edit]