|Start date January 5, 2008|
NFC Champions New York Giants
Dates 6 Sep 2007 – 30 Dec 2007
|AFC Champions New England Patriots|
Champions New York Giants
|Duration September 6 – December 30, 2007|
Site University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Champion New York Giants, New England Patriots
Similar 2008 NFL season, 2006 NFL season, 2009 NFL season, 2005 NFL season, 2004 NFL season
The 2007 NFL season was the 88th regular season of the National Football League.
- Opening weekend
- Going global
- Super Bowl 4112
- Schedule formula
- Flex scheduling
- Final regular season standings
- Rule changes
- Controversy surrounding NFL Network coverage
- Coaching changes
- Player conduct off the field
- Death of Marquise Hill
- Death of Sean Taylor
- Other events
Regular-season play was held from September 6 to December 30.
The New England Patriots became the first team to complete the regular season undefeated since the league expanded to a 16-game regular season in 1978. Four weeks after the playoffs began on January 5, 2008, the Patriots lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, the league championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 3, by a score of 17–14.
The Hall of Fame Game was played in Canton, Ohio on Sunday August 5, 2007, with the Pittsburgh Steelers defeating the Saints by a score of 20–7; the game was televised by the NFL Network, replacing NBC, who had been previously scheduled to broadcast the China Bowl exhibition game from Beijing, China on August 8, 2007 between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at Workers Stadium. However, with all efforts being put into the London regular season game, plans for the game were postponed, as Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.
On March 26, 2007, the league announced the aforementioned opening Saints-Colts Kickoff Game on September 6 that would be telecast on NBC. Pre-game activities featured Indiana native John Mellencamp, Faith Hill, and Kelly Clarkson. The entertainment portion of events started 30 minutes earlier than the scheduled start time of the game, leading up to the unveiling of the Colts' Super Bowl XLI championship banner. The opening events were simulcast on NFL Network.
The Dallas Cowboys hosted the New York Giants in the first Sunday night game September 9 at 8:15 p.m. US EDT. Monday Night Football on ESPN kicked off with a doubleheader on September 10 with the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Baltimore Ravens at 7:00 p.m. US EDT, and the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Arizona Cardinals at 10:15 p.m. US EDT. The 49ers paid tribute to three-time Super Bowl winning head coach Bill Walsh, who died July 30, in that game.
In October 2006, NFL club owners approved a plan to stage up to two international regular season games per season beginning in 2007 and continuing through at least 2011. On February 2, 2007, the league announced that the Week Eight contest between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins would be played at Wembley Stadium in London on October 28 at 5 p.m. UTC, which is 1 p.m. EDT) As the Giants were the away-team designate from the NFC, Fox broadcast the game in the USA according to league broadcast contract rules.
"Super Bowl 41 1⁄2"
In Week 9, the New England Patriots (8–0) faced the Indianapolis Colts (7–0) in a battle of undefeated teams. Thus there was a lot of hype surrounding the game, also due to the fact that these teams had met in the previous season's AFC Championship game, and would possibly meet later in the 2007 AFC Championship game. Many people dubbed the game "Super Bowl 41 1⁄2". The Patriots prevailed 24–20, and would later finish the regular season as the league's first 16–0 team.
For the second year in a row, three games were also held on the United States' Thanksgiving Day (November 22). In addition to the traditional games hosted by the Detroit Lions and Cowboys (with those teams respectively playing the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets, with the Packers–Lions game starting at 12:30 p.m. US EST and the Jets–Cowboys game kicking off at 4:15 p.m. US EST respectively), the Colts faced the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, with kickoff at 8:15 p.m. US EST.
Based on the NFL's scheduling formula, the intraconference and interconference matchups for 2007 were:
The NFL entered its second year of flexible scheduling in the final weeks of the season. In each of the Sunday night contests from Weeks 11 through 17, NBC had the option of switching its Sunday night game for a more favorable contest, up to 12 days before the game's start.
In addition to an extra week of flexible scheduling (because of the conflict with scheduling Christmas Eve the previous season, which NBC did not do (instead opting to air a game on Christmas Day)), the NFL slightly changed its flex-schedule procedure. In 2006, the league did not reveal its predetermined Sunday night game; the reason given by the league was to avoid embarrassing the teams switched out for a more compelling game. In 2007, the league announced all predetermined matchups, with a footnote on the games subject to flex scheduling. Also, the network that carries the "doubleheader" week game (either CBS or Fox) will be able to switch one game per week into the 4:15 PM (US ET) time slot, except in the final week, when NBC will select one game for the 8:15 PM slot, and both CBS and Fox will have doubleheader games on December 30.
The first flex game was the New England Patriots visiting the Buffalo Bills on November 18. The next flexing came when it was announced that the December 23 Washington Redskins–Minnesota Vikings game was moved to 8:15 PM on NBC, replacing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers–San Francisco 49ers contest, which was moved to 4:05 PM to be aired on Fox.
It was announced on December 23 the Tennessee Titans–Indianapolis Colts game, originally scheduled for a 1 PM kickoff on CBS, would be the December 30 "flex game" and airing at 8:15 PM on NBC, replacing the Kansas City Chiefs–New York Jets game, which was moved to 4:15 PM on CBS, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers–Baltimore Ravens contest. Additionally, the Dallas Cowboys–Washington Redskins game was switched on Fox from 1 PM kickoff to 4:15 PM.
Final regular season standings
W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green
Within each conference, the four division winners and the two wild card teams (the top two non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The four division winners are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams are seeded 5 and 6. The NFL does not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any round. In the first round, dubbed the wild-card playoffs or wild-card weekend, the third-seeded division winner hosts the sixth seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosts the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference then receive a bye in the first round. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosts the worst surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5 or 6), while the number 2 seed will play the other team (seed 3, 4 or 5). The two surviving teams from each conference's divisional playoff games then meet in the respective AFC and NFC Conference Championship games, hosted by the higher seed. Although the Super Bowl, the fourth and final round of the playoffs, is played at a neutral site, the designated home team is based on an annual rotation by conference.* Indicates overtime victory
The following rule changes were passed at the league's annual owners meeting in Phoenix, Arizona during the week of March 25–28:
The 2007 season marked the second year of the current television contracts with NBC, CBS, Fox, ESPN, and the NFL Network. The pre-game shows made some changes, with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher joining host James Brown, Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe and Dan Marino on CBS's The NFL Today. On Fox, after one season on the road, Fox NFL Sunday returned to Los Angeles as Curt Menefee took over as full-time host. Chris Rose, who had been doing in-game updates of other NFL games, was reverted to a part-time play-by-play role.
The biggest changes were at NBC and ESPN. Michael Irvin's contract with ESPN was not renewed, and former coach Bill Parcells returned to the network after four years as Cowboys head coach. Parcells left before the season ended to become the Miami Dolphins VP of Player Personnel. Another pair of former Cowboys, Emmitt Smith and Keyshawn Johnson also provided roles in the studio for Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown. At Monday Night Football, Joe Theismann was dropped (and would later resign from the network) after seventeen years in the booth between the Sunday and Monday Night packages, and former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and current Philadelphia Soul (AFL) president Ron Jaworski took his place alongside Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser. Part of the reason that Jaworski replaced Theismann was because of his chemistry with Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption, where Jaworski was a frequent guest during the football season.
NBC's Football Night in America also made two changes. MSNBC Countdown anchor Keith Olbermann joined Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth as another co-host, while Sterling Sharpe exited as a studio analyst, and former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber replaced him. In another change, Faith Hill took over singing "Waiting All Day For Sunday Night" for Pink.
In the second year of the NFL Network's "Run to the Playoffs", Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders replaced Dick Vermeil for two games when Collinsworth was unavailable. An unforced change saw Bryant Gumbel miss the Broncos–Texans game December 13 due to a sore throat and NBC announcer Tom Hammond step into Gumbel's play-by-play role in what turned out to be more or less a preview of one of NBC's Wild Card Game announcing teams.
Controversy surrounding NFL Network coverage
The dispute between the NFL Network and various cable companies involving the distribution of the cable channel continued throughout the season, getting the attention of government officials when the NFL Network was scheduled to televise two high-profile regular season games: the Packers-Cowboys game on November 29 and the Patriots-Giants game on December 29. In the case of the Packers-Cowboys game, the carriage was so limited that even Governor of Wisconsin Jim Doyle went to his brother's house to watch the game on satellite (which is where the majority of the viewers watch the network). The contest drew a network record 10.1 million viewers, a high-water mark at that time.
Some politicians urged the league to seek a resolution to conflict. In December, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for the league to settle their differences in time for the Patriots-Giants game. Because the game, as it turned out, would be the Patriots' attempt to seal the record that would make them the first undefeated team in 35 years, Kerry urged for a solution to be decided upon in time so that Americans can witness "an historic event." Also, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter threatened to introduce legislation to eliminate the league's freedom from antitrust laws.
On December 26, the NFL announced that, despite initial plans to broadcast the game only on the NFL Network, the game would be presented in a three-network simulcast with both CBS and NBC, the first time an NFL game would be broadcast on three networks, and the first simulcast of any pro football game since Super Bowl I. Nielsen ratings saw CBS with 15.7 million viewers, NBC with 13.2 million viewers and NFL Network with 4.5 million viewers for the game. In addition, local stations in New York City (WWOR-TV in nearby Secaucus, New Jersey), Boston (WCVB-TV), and Manchester, New Hampshire (WMUR-TV), all previously signed on to carry the game in the teams' home markets, added 1.2 million viewers, making it the most watched TV show since the 2007 Oscars and the most watched regular season NFL telecast in twelve years.
The following teams hired new head coaches prior to the start of the 2007 season:
The following head coaches were fired or resigned during the 2007 season:
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the regular season:a Hobbs' kickoff return was also, at the time, tied for the longest play in NFL history until Antonio Cromartie broke the record.
Player conduct off the field
The NFLPA, then led by their president Gene Upshaw and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, worked with player conduct in the form of suspensions for off the field conduct in light of the more than fifty arrests by local law enforcement since the start of the 2006 season. The hardest hit came on April 10 when Adam "Pacman" Jones of the Tennessee Titans was suspended for the entire season for his five arrests, the most blatant while in Las Vegas for the NBA All-Star Weekend in February where he was accused of causing a riot/shooting in a strip club. That same day, Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended for the first eight games of the season for his run-ins with the legal system. The other big name that has been caught in the web of controversy was Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick. Vick was charged on July 24, 2007 with dogfighting and animal abuse, and was suspended following a guilty plea in the case, on which he was sentenced to 23 months in prison (retroactive to November) and three years probation on December 10.
Death of Marquise Hill
On the evening of May 27, 2007, Marquise Hill, a defensive end for the New England Patriots and a friend fell off a jet ski in Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. The two were wearing neither personal flotation nor tracking devices. The friend was rescued and sent to Tulane Medical Center, but Hill did not survive; his body was found the next day. The Patriots honored Hill, the first Patriots player to die while still a member of the team, by wearing black circular decals on their helmets with Hill's number, 91.
Death of Sean Taylor
Fourth-year player Sean Taylor, a defensive back for the Redskins, was shot in his home near Miami, Florida on November 26. Armed with a machete, Taylor confronted robbers who were breaking into his home—the 17-year-old Eric Rivera, Jr., 18-year-old Charles Wadlow, and 20-year-olds Jason Mitchell and Venjah Hunte. Rivera fired two shots from his 9 mm gun, one missing and the other hitting Taylor's leg, going from his right groin to his left according to an autopsy obtained by Associated Press. He died from his injuries the next day.
For the remainder of the season, the Redskins honored him with a black patch on their right shoulder of the player uniform jerseys, while all 32 teams honored Taylor by applying a decal with his playing number (21) on the left back side of their helmets. Taylor's memory was honored in all games during Week 13 and all three Redskins representatives in the Pro Bowl wore number 21 in his honor. In 2013, a jury found Rivera guilty of second-degree murder and armed burglary. In 2014 Rivera received a sentence of 57 1⁄2 years in prison; he testified someone else fired the gun. Jason Scott Mitchell was also convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, with three others still awaiting verdicts.
During the Patriots season opening game at The Meadowlands against the Jets, a Patriots camera staffer was ejected from the Patriots sideline and was accused of videotaping the Jets' defensive coaches relaying signals. The end result was that the team was fined $250,000, head coach Bill Belicheck was docked $500,000 (the maximum fine that could be imposed) and also stripped of their first round selection of the 2008 NFL Draft. If the Pats had failed to make the playoffs, the penalty would have been their second and third round picks. The team was allowed to keep their other first-round pick acquired from the San Francisco 49ers during the previous year's selection meeting.