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. Had the playoffs been seeded, the divisional matchups in the AFC would not have changed, but undefeated Miami would have had home field advantage for the AFC championship game. The NFC divisional matchups would have been #4 wild card Dallas, ineligible to play Washington, at #2 Green Bay and #3 San Francisco at #1 Washington.
|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|
|San Francisco 49ers||28|
|December 24 – RFK Stadium|
|Green Bay Packers||3|
- "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)