|Duration||September 4 – December 19, 1988|
|Start date||December 24, 1988|
|AFC Champions||Cincinnati Bengals|
|NFC Champions||San Francisco 49ers|
|Super Bowl XXIII|
|Date||January 22, 1989|
|Site||Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami|
|Champions||San Francisco 49ers|
|Date||January 29, 1989|
The 1988 NFL season was the 69th regular season of the National Football League. The Cardinals relocated from St. Louis, Missouri to the Phoenix, Arizona area becoming the Phoenix Cardinals but remained in the NFC East division. The playoff races came down to the regular season's final week, with the Seattle Seahawks winning the AFC West by one game, and the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers winning their respective divisions in a five-way tie, with the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants losing the NFC Wild Card berth to the Los Angeles Rams on tiebreakers.
This season marked the final coaching season for the legendary Tom Landry.
The season ended with Super Bowl XXIII when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 20–16 at the Joe Robbie Stadium in Florida.
The 1988 NFL Draft was held from April 24 to 25, 1988 at New York City’s Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Atlanta Falcons selected linebacker Aundray Bruce from the University of Auburn.
Johnny Grier became the first African-American in NFL history to be promoted to referee.Grier replaced long time referee Bob Frederic, who retired in the offseason. Grier was the field judge in the previous season's Super Bowl XXII, which was the same game that Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins became the first African-American quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
A series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States, the only American Bowl game in 1988 was held at London's Wembley Stadium.
|Date||Winning Team||Score||Losing Team||Score||Stadium||City|
|July 31, 1988||Miami Dolphins||27||San Francisco 49ers||21||Wembley Stadium||London|
Highlights of the 1988 season included:
NOTE: Rams-Giants-Saints conference record tiebreaker: best winning percentage (2nd figure shown in parenthesis) vs same-conference opponents. NY Giants had finished 5th in NFC East in 1987. Because of two then-existing situations, division alignment as well as team-vs-team scheduling, any 5th place team would in the following season play 14 in-conference and 2 out-of-conference teams. For 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place teams, it would have been 12 in-conference and 4 out-of-conference teams. This was the NFL's reason for breaking ties in this type situation by percentage rather than by simple won-loss.
|Jan. 1 – Rich Stadium|
|Dec. 24 – Cleveland Stadium||Jan. 8 – Riverfront Stadium|
|Dec. 31 – Riverfront Stadium|
|Jan. 22 – Joe Robbie Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs||A1||Cincinnati||16|
|Jan. 1 – Candlestick Park|
|Super Bowl XXIII|
|Dec. 26 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||Jan. 8 – Soldier Field|
|5||LA Rams||17||2||San Francisco||28|
|Dec. 31 – Soldier Field|
|Points scored||Cincinnati Bengals (448)|
|Total yards gained||Cincinnati Bengals (6,057)|
|Yards rushing||Cincinnati Bengals (2,710)|
|Yards passing||Miami Dolphins (4,516)|
|Fewest points allowed||Chicago Bears (215)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Minnesota Vikings (4,091)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Chicago Bears (1,326)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Kansas City Chiefs (2,434)|
|Most Valuable Player||Boomer Esiason, Quarterback, Cincinnati|
|Coach of the Year||Mike Ditka, Chicago|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Roger Craig, Running back, San Francisco|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Mike Singletary, Linebacker, Chicago|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||John Stephens, Running back, New England|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Erik McMillan, Safety, NY Jets|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Greg Bell, Running Back, LA Rams|
|NFL Man of the Year||Steve Largent, Wide Receiver, Seattle|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Jerry Rice, Wide Receiver, San Francisco|
The relocated Phoenix Cardinals moved from Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona
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