1969 NFL season
NFL 50th season anniversary logo
|Duration||September 21, 1969 – December 21, 1969|
|East Champions||Cleveland Browns|
|West 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 50th season, a special anniversary logo was designed and each player wore a patch on their jerseys with this logo throughout the season.
Philadelphia became the first NFL team to play its home games on artificial turf.
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 in which head to head record, then net points in head-to-head competition, followed by which team that had less recently been 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 3 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 4 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 4 games to play and the Vikings with 3 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 record, their first winning record in over a decade.
|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|
*indicates more than one team with record
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
|New Orleans Saints||5||9||0||.357||311||393|
|New York Giants||6||8||0||.429||264||298|
|St. Louis Cardinals||4||9||1||.308||314||389|
|Los Angeles Rams||11||3||0||.786||320||243|
|San Francisco 49ers||4||8||2||.333||277||319|
|Green Bay Packers||8||6||0||.571||269||221|
In the Eastern Conference Championship game, the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys met for the 3rd straight year. The Cowboys had won in 1967 and the Browns in 1968; 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 they were home. However, the Browns jumped on the Cowboys early and often in cruising to a surprising 38–14 win.
In the Western Conference, the Vikings were 4 point favorites over the Rams in Minnesota. In week 12 of the season, the 10–1 Vikings beat the 11–0 Rams in L.A., 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, and then 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 with under 2 minutes to play to clinch the win.
In the NFL final, the Browns were thoroughly dominated for the second year in a row. In 1968 the Colts beat them 34–0; 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|
|January 4, 1970 – Metropolitan Stadium|
|December 27, 1969 – Metropolitan Stadium|
|Los Angeles Rams||20|
|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|
- Super Bowl IV: Kansas City (AFL) 23, Minnesota (NFL) 7, at Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
- 1969 American Football League season
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- NFL History 1961–1970 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)