1972 NFL season
|Duration||September 17 – December 17, 1972|
|Start date||December 23, 1972|
|AFC Champions||Miami Dolphins|
|NFC Champions||Washington Redskins|
|Super Bowl VII|
|Date||January 14, 1973|
Los Angeles, California
|Date||January 21, 1973|
|Site||Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas|
The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League. The Miami Dolphins became the first (and to date the only) NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
Major rule changes
- The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved 10¾ feet closer to the center of the field, to 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines. Since the 1945 season, they had been 20 yards from the sideline (40 feet apart). The hashmarks are now 18½ feet apart (the same width as the goalposts), cutting down on severe angles for short field goal attempts, and nearly eliminating the short-side fields for the offense.
- If a legal receiver goes out of bounds, either accidentally or forced out, and returns to touch or catch the pass in bounds, the penalty is a loss of down (but no penalty yardage will be assessed).
- If a punt or missed field goal crosses the receivers' goal line, a member of the receiving team may advance the ball into the field of play. Previously, the ball was dead when a scrimmage kick crossed the goal line and the receivers were awarded an automatic touchback.
- All fouls committed by the offensive team behind the line of scrimmage will be assessed from the previous spot.
- Tie games, previously ignored in computing of winning percentage, were made equal to a half-game win and a half-game loss.
Starting in 1970, and until 2002, there were three divisions (Eastern, Central and Western) in each conference. The winners of each division, and a fourth "wild card" team based on the best non-division winner, qualified for the playoffs. The tiebreaker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents records, and conference play.
National Football Conference
|1||Dallas, St. Louis, Washington||1–0–0||Detroit, Green Bay||1–0–0||Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles||1–0–0||St.L, Wash., Atl., San Fran., Green Bay||1–0–0|
|2||Dallas, Washington||2–0–0||Minnesota||1–1–0||Los Angeles||1–0–1||Dallas, Washington||2–0–0|
|3||Washington||2–1–0||Detroit, Green Bay||2–1–0||Atlanta, San Francisco||2–1–0||3 teams||2–1–0|
|4||Washington||3–1–0||Detroit*||3–1–0||Los Angeles||2–1–1||2 teams||3–1–0|
|5||Washington||4–1–0||Green Bay||4–1–0||Los Angeles||3–1–1||Dallas||4–1–0|
|6||Washington||5–1–0||Green Bay*||4–2–0||Los Angeles||4–1–1||4 teams||4–2–0|
|7||Washington||6–1–0||Green Bay*||4–3–0||Los Angeles||4–2–1||Dallas||5–2–0|
|8||Washington||7–1–0||Green Bay*||5–3–0||Los Angeles||5–2–1||Dallas||6–2–0|
|9||Washington||8–1–0||Green Bay||6–3–0||Los Angeles||5–3–1||Dallas||7–2–0|
|10||Washington||9–1–0||Green Bay||7–3–0||Los Angeles*||5–4–1||Dallas||8–2–0|
|11||Washington||10–1–0||Green Bay*||7–4–0||San Francisco||6–4–1||Dallas||8–3–0|
|13||Washington||11–2–0||Green Bay||9–4–0||San Francisco||7–5–1||Dallas||10–3–0|
|14||Washington||11–3–0||Green Bay||10–4–0||San Francisco||8–5–1||Dallas||10–4–0|
American Football Conference
|1||Miami, NY Jets||1–0–0||Cincinnati, Pittsburgh||1–0–0||Denver||1–0–0||Miami, NY Jets||1–0–0|
|2||Miami, NY Jets||2–0–0||Cincinnati||2–0–0||Oakland, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego||1–1–0||Miami, NY Jets||2–0–0|
|3||Miami||3–0–0||Cleveland||2–1–0||Kansas City||2–1–0||Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati, NY Jets||2–1–0|
|4||Miami||4–0–0||Cincinnati||3–1–0||Kansas City||3–1–0||San Diego*||2–1–1|
W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
wild card berth, – clinched division title– clinched
Note: Prior to 1972, the NFL did not include tie games when calculating a team's winning percentage in the official standings
|New York Jets||7||7||0||.500||367||324|
|New England Patriots||3||11||0||.214||192||446|
|Kansas City Chiefs||8||6||0||.571||287||254|
|San Diego Chargers||4||9||1||.321||264||344|
|New York Giants||8||6||0||.571||331||247|
|St. Louis Cardinals||4||9||1||.321||193||303|
|y-Green Bay Packers||10||4||0||.714||304||226|
|y-San Francisco 49ers||8||5||1||.607||353||249|
|Los Angeles Rams||6||7||1||.464||291||286|
|New Orleans Saints||2||11||1||.179||215||361|
- Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.
|Divisional Playoffs||Conf. Championship Games||Super Bowl VII|
|December 24 – Miami Orange Bowl|
|December 31 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|December 23 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|January 14 – L.A. Coliseum|
|December 23 – Candlestick Park|
|December 31 – RFK Stadium|
|December 24 – RFK Stadium|
- "Owners give offense big seven-yard boost". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. Associated Press. March 24, 1972. p. 6A.
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
- NFL History 1971–1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)