1971 NFL season

Last updated

1971 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 19 – December 19, 1971
Playoffs
Start dateDecember 25, 1971
AFC Champions Miami Dolphins
NFC Champions Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl VI
DateJanuary 16, 1972
Site Tulane Stadium,
New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Dallas Cowboys
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 23, 1972
Site Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The Cowboys playing against the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. 1986 Jeno's Pizza - 01 - Duane Thomas.jpg
The Cowboys playing against the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

The 1971 NFL season was the 52nd regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl VI when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Pro Bowl took place on January 23, 1972, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the NFC beat the AFC 26–13.

Contents

Draft

The 1971 NFL Draft was held from January 28 to 29, 1971 at New York City's Belmont Plaza Hotel. With the first pick, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Jim Plunkett from Stanford University.

New officials

Three referees--Walt Fitzgerald, Bob Finley and George Rennix--retired following the 1970 season. Bob Frederic, Dick Jorgensen and Fred Wyant were promoted to fill those vacancies. Rich Eichhorst, a back judge in 1970, resigned to concentrate on officiating college basketball; he was replaced by Don Orr, who officiated in the league through 1995.

Major rule changes

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, record against common opponents, and records in conference play. More tiebreakers were provided in 1971 because, in 1970, reversing just one game’s outcome would have led to a coin toss between Dallas and Detroit for the NFC wild card berth.

National Football Conference

WeekEasternCentralWesternWild Card
13 teams1–0–02 teams1–0–02 teams1–0–03 teams1–0–0
22 teams2–0–0Chicago2–0–0Atlanta1–0–12 teams2–0–0
3Washington3–0–04 teams2–1–0San Francisco2–1–05 teams2–1–0
4Washington4–0–0Chicago*3–1–0Los Angeles2–1–13 teams3–1–0
5Washington5–0–0Minnesota*4–1–0Los Angeles3–1–1Detroit4–1–0
6Washington5–1–0Minnesota5–1–0Los Angeles4–1–14 teams4–2–0
7Washington6–1–0Minnesota6–1–0San Francisco5–2–0Chicago5–2–0
8Washington6–1–1Minnesota6–2–0San Francisco6–2–0Detroit5–2–1
9Washington6–2–1Minnesota7–2–0San Francisco6–3–0Chicago*6–3–0
10Dallas7–3–0Minnesota8–2–0Los Angeles6–3–1Washington*6–3–1
11Dallas8–3–0Minnesota9–2–0San Francisco7–4–0Washington*7–3–1
12Dallas9–3–0Minnesota9–3–0Los Angeles7–4–1Washington8–3–1
13Dallas10–3–0Minnesota10–3–0San Francisco8–5–0Washington9–3–1
14 Dallas 11–3–0 Minnesota 11–3–0 San Francisco 9–5–0 Washington 9–4–1

American Football Conference

WeekEasternCentralWesternWild Card
12 teams1–0–02 teams1–0–0San Diego1–0–02 teams1–0–0
2Miami1–0–1Cleveland2–0–0Oakland*1–1–06 teams1–1–0
3Baltimore2–1–0Pittsburgh*2–1–0Oakland*2–1–02 teams2–1–0
4Baltimore3–1–0Cleveland3–1–0Oakland*3–1–0Kansas City3–1–0
5Baltimore4–1–0Cleveland4–1–0Oakland*4–1–0Kansas City4–1–0
6Miami4–1–1Cleveland4–2–0Oakland*5–1–0Kansas City5–1–0
7Miami5–1–1Cleveland4–3–0Oakland*5–1–1Kansas City5–1–1
8Miami6–1–1Cleveland*4–4–0Oakland5–1–2Baltimore6–2–0
9Miami7–1–1Cleveland*4–5–0Oakland6–1–2Baltimore7–2–0
10Miami8–1–1Cleveland*5–5–0Oakland7–1–2Kansas City7–2–1
11Miami9–1–1Cleveland6–5–0Oakland7–2–2Baltimore8–3–0
12Miami9–2–1Cleveland7–5–0Kansas City8–3–1Baltimore9–3–0
13Baltimore10–3–0Cleveland8–5–0Kansas City9–3–1Miami9–3–1
14 Miami 10–3–1 Cleveland 9–5–0 Kansas City 10–3–1 Baltimore 10–4–0

Final standings

Tiebreakers

Playoffs

Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation of division winners. Had the playoffs been seeded, the divisional round matchups would have been #3 Cleveland at #2 Miami and #4 wild card Baltimore at #1 Kansas City in the AFC; #4 wild card Washington at #1 Minnesota and #3 San Francisco at #2 Dallas in the NFC.
Dec. 26 – Candlestick Park
WC Washington 20
Jan. 2 – Texas Stadium
West San Francisco 24
NFC
WestSan Francisco3
Dec. 25 – Metropolitan Stadium
EastDallas14
NFC Championship
East Dallas 20
Jan. 16 – Tulane Stadium
Cent. Minnesota 12
Divisional playoffs
NFCDallas24
Dec. 26 – Cleveland Stadium
AFCMiami3
Super Bowl VI
WC Baltimore 20
Jan. 2 – Miami Orange Bowl
Cent. Cleveland 3
AFC
WCBaltimore0
Dec. 25 – Municipal Stadium
EastMiami21
AFC Championship
East Miami 27**
West Kansas City 24


Awards

Most Valuable Player Alan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Coach of the Year George Allen, Washington
Defensive Player of the Year Alan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the Year John Brockington, Running back, Green Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year Isiah Robertson, Linebacker, Los Angeles

Coaching changes

Offseason

In-season

Stadium changes

Uniform changes

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