1974 NFL season

Infobox NFL
year = 1974
NFLchampion = Pittsburgh Steelers
regular_season = September 15 1974 - December 15 1974
playoffs_start = December 21 1974
AFCchampion = Pittsburgh Steelers
NFCchampion = Minnesota Vikings
sb_name = IX
sb_date = January 12 1975
sb_site = Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana
pb_date = January 20 1975

The 1974 NFL season was the 55th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl IX when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated 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 League to 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 22 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos, ended in a 35-35 draw. It was not until November 10, when the New York Jets defeated 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 (touchback).
*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.

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 tiebraker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents records, and conference play.

National Football Conference


Tiebreakers

*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).

Playoffs

:Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.Round8
RD1=Divisional Playoffs
RD2=Conf. Championship Games
RD3=Super Bowl IX
December 22 - Three Rivers Stadium|Buffalo Bills|14|Pittsburgh Steelers|32
December 21 - Oakland Coliseum|Miami Dolphins|26|Oakland Raiders|28
December 22 - L.A. Coliseum|Washington Redskins|10|Los Angeles Rams|19
December 21 - Metropolitan Stadium|St. Louis Cardinals|14|Minnesota Vikings|30
December 29 - Oakland Coliseum|Pittsburgh Steelers|24|Oakland Raiders|13
December 29 - Metropolitan Stadium|Los Angeles Rams|10|Minnesota Vikings|14
January 12 - Tulane Stadium|Pittsburgh Steelers|16|Minnesota Vikings|6

References

* "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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