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1973 NFL season

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AFC Champions  Miami Dolphins
Champions  Miami Dolphins
Start date  1973
NFC Champions  Minnesota Vikings
Champion  Miami Dolphins
1973 NFL season
Duration  September 16 – December 16, 1973
Site  Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas
Site  Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Similar  1974 NFL season, 1969 NFL season, 1970 NFL season, 1982 NFL season, 1984 NFL season

The 1973 NFL season was the 54th regular season of the National Football League. The season featured O.J. Simpson becoming the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in one season. Buffalo moved their home games into Rich Stadium. After playing their first two home games at Yankee Stadium, the New York Giants played the rest of their home games at the Yale Bowl. The season ended with Super Bowl VIII when the Miami Dolphins repeated as league champions by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24-7 at the Rice Stadium in Houston Texas. The Pro Bowl took place on January 20,1974 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The AFC beat the NFC 15-13.


Jersey numbering system

  • A jersey numbering system is adopted (players who played in 1972 are grandfathered):
  • 1–19: Quarterbacks and specialists
  • 20–49: Running backs and defensive backs
  • 50–59: Centers and linebackers
  • 60–79: Defensive linemen and offensive linemen other than centers
  • 80–89: Wide receivers and tight ends
  • Numbers 0, 00, and 90–99 are no longer allowed to be issued, even though these numbers were rarely issued anyway (two players wearing 00 at the time, Jim Otto and Ken Burrough, were grandfathered). Numbers 90–99 would be allowed again in 1984 for defensive linemen and linebackers in addition to the above-mentioned numbers.
  • Defensive players cannot jump or stand on a teammate while trying to block a kick.
  • The clock is to start at the snap following a change of possession. Previously, the clock would start on a change of possession when the ball was spotted ready for play by the referee, except if the ball went out of bounds on the change of possession, in which case the clock started on the snap.
  • If there is a foul by the offensive team, and it is followed by a change of possession, the period can be extended by one play by the other team.
  • If the receiving team commits a foul after the ball is kicked, possession will be presumed to have changed; the receiving team keeps the ball.
  • Television Blackout rules

    Up until the 1972 season, all NFL games (including championship games and Super Bowls) were blacked-out on television in each team's home city. In 1973, the league changed their policy to black out games in the team's home city only if tickets to the game had not sold out. This expanded the league's television presence in teams' home cities on gameday.

    The policy was put into effect when, in 1972, the Washington Redskins made the playoffs for only the second time in 27 seasons. Because all home games were blacked-out, politicians — including devout football fan President Richard Nixon — were not able to watch their home team win. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle refused to lift the blackout, despite a plea from United States Attorney General Richard Kleindienst. Kleindienst was to suggest that the United States Congress re-evaluate the NFL's antitrust exemption. Rozelle agreed to lift the blackout for Super Bowl VII on an "experimental basis." But Congress intervened before the 1973 season anyway, passing Public Law 93-107, which eliminated the blackout of games in the home market so long as the game was sold out by 72 hours before game time.

    Division races

    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

  • For the last time until 1997, the last two unbeaten teams in the league met in Week 7, with the Vikings tipping the Rams 10–9.
  • Final standings

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

     x  – clinched wild card berth,  y  – clinched division title


  • N.Y. Jets finished ahead of Baltimore in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on better conference record (8–3 to Steelers' 7–4).
  • Kansas City finished ahead of Denver in the AFC West based on better division record (4–2 to Broncos' 3–2–1).
  • Dallas finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better point differential in head-to-head games (13 points).
  • San Francisco finished ahead of New Orleans in the NFC West based on better division record (2–4 to Saints' 1–5).
  • Coaching Changes

    After 11 years as head coach of the New York Jets, Weeb Ewbank decided to retire.


    Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.


    1973 NFL season Wikipedia

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