1974 NFL season
year = 1974
September 15 1974- December 15 1974
December 21 1974
sb_name = IX
January 12 1975
Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
January 20 1975
The 1974 NFL season was the 55th
regular seasonof the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl IXwhen the Pittsburgh Steelersdefeated the Minnesota Vikings.
Major rule changes
The following changes were adopted to add tempo and action to the game (and to help counter the proposed changes announced by the
World Football Leagueto their games):
*One sudden death overtime period (15 minutes) was added to all preseason and regular season games; if no team scored in this period, the game would result in a tie. This rule was enacted to decrease the number of tie games. The first ever regular season overtime, a
September 22game between the Pittsburgh Steelersand the Denver Broncos, ended in a 35-35 draw. It was not until November 10, when the New York Jetsdefeated the New York Giants, 26-20, that an overtime game would produce a winner.
*Goal posts: moved from the goal line to the end line, where they were in 1932. This was to reduce the number of games being decided on field goals, and to increase their difficulty. Not to mention reduce the risk of player injuries. Uprights were extended to 30 feet above the crossbar.
*Missed field goals: If the line of scrimmage was beyond the 20-yard line, the defensive team takes possession of the ball at that point. (In 1994, the ball would be placed at spot of the missed kick.) If this point was inside the 20-yard line, the defensive team takes possession of the ball at the 20-yard line (
*Kickoffs: moved to the 35-yard line (from the 40-yard line) to reduce touchbacks, promoting more excitement with kickoff returns. In 1994, the kickoff would be moved further back, to the 30-yard line.
*Punt returns: members of the kicking team cannot go beyond the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.
*An eligible pass receiver can only be contacted once by defenders after the receiver has gone 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
*When the defensive team commits an illegal use of hands, arms, or body foul from behind the line of scrimmage, the penalty will be assessed from the previous spot instead of the spot of the foul.
*The penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of hands, and tripping were reduced from 15-yards to 10-yards.
*Wide receivers blocking back towards the ball within three yards from the line of scrimmage may not block below the waist.
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 tiebraker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents records, and conference play.
National Football Conference
*New England finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better record against common opponents (5-4 to Jets' 4-5).
*Houston finished ahead of Cincinnati in the AFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
*Kansas City finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on better record against common opponents (4-6 to Chargers' 3-7).
*St. Louis finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
:Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.Round8
RD2=Conf. Championship Games
* "NFL Record and Fact Book" (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
* [http://nflhistory.net/linescores/pdf/1974.pdf 1974 season in details]
* [http://www.nfl.com/history/chronology/1971-1980 NFL History 1971-1980] (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
* "Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League" (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
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