|Duration||September 9, 2004 – January 2, 2005|
|Start date||January 8, 2005|
|AFC Champions||New England Patriots|
|NFC Champions||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Super Bowl XXXIX|
|Date||February 6, 2005|
|Site||ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida|
|Champions||New England Patriots|
|Date||February 13, 2005|
The 2004 NFL season was the 85th regular season of the National Football League.
With the New England Patriots as the defending league champions, regular season play was held from September 9, 2004 to January 2, 2005. Hurricanes forced the rescheduling of two Miami Dolphins home games: the game against the Tennessee Titans was moved up one day to Saturday, September 11 to avoid oncoming Hurricane Ivan, while the game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 26 was moved back 7½ hours to miss the eye of Hurricane Jeanne.
The playoffs began on January 8, and eventually New England repeated as NFL champions when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24–21 in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Super Bowl championship game, at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6.
The 2004 NFL Draft was held from April 24 to 25, 2004 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the San Diego Chargers selected quarterback Eli Manning from the University of Mississippi.
Ron Blum returned to line judge, and Bill Vinovich was promoted to take his place as referee.
Midway through the season, Johnny Grier, the NFL's first African-American referee, suffered a leg injury that forced him to retire. He was permanently replaced by the back judge on his crew, Scott Green, who had previous experience as a referee in NFL Europe.
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.
|1||Pittsburgh Steelers (North winner)||Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)|
|2||New England Patriots (East winner)||Atlanta Falcons (South winner)|
|3||Indianapolis Colts (South winner)||Green Bay Packers (North winner)|
|4||San Diego Chargers (West winner)||Seattle Seahawks (West winner)|
|5||New York Jets (wild card)||St. Louis Rams (wild card)|
|6||Denver Broncos (wild card)||Minnesota Vikings (wild card)|
The Miami Dolphins were the first team to be eliminated from the playoff race, having reached a 1–9 record by week 11.
|Jan. 9 – RCA Dome||Jan. 16 – Gillette Stadium|
|3||Indianapolis||49||Jan. 23 – Heinz Field|
|Jan. 8 – Qualcomm Stadium||2||New England||41|
|Jan. 15 – Heinz Field|
|5||NY Jets||20*||AFC Championship|
|4||San Diego||17||Feb. 6 – Alltel Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan. 8 – Qwest Field||A2||New England||24|
|Jan. 15 – Georgia Dome|
|5||St. Louis||27||Super Bowl XXXIX|
|4||Seattle||20||Jan. 23 – Lincoln Financial Field|
|Jan. 9 – Lambeau Field||2||Atlanta||10|
|Jan. 16 – Lincoln Financial Field|
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player/Team||Date/Opponent||Previous Record Holder|
|Longest Interception Return||Ed Reed, Baltimore (106 yards)||November 7, vs Cleveland||Tied by 2 players (103)|
|Most Touchdown Passes, Season||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (49)||N/A||Dan Marino, Miami, 1984 (48)|
|Highest Passer Rating, Season||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (121.1)||Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994 (112.8)|
|Most Interception Return Yards Gained, Season||Ed Reed, Baltimore (358)||Charlie McNeil, San Diego, 1961 (349)|
|Most First Downs by a Team, Season||Kansas City (398)||Miami, 1994 (387)|
|Most Consecutive Games Won||New England (21)||October 24, vs. N.Y. Jets||Chicago, 1933–34 (17)|
|Most Passing Touchdowns by a Team, Season||Indianapolis (51)||N/A||Miami, 1984 (49)|
The Colts led the NFL with 522 points scored. The Colts tallied more points in the first half of each of their games of the 2004 NFL season (277 points) than seven other NFL teams managed in the entire season.Despite throwing for 49 touchdown passes, Peyton Manning attempted fewer than 500 passes for the first time in his NFL career. The San Francisco 49ers record 420 consecutive scoring games that had started in Week 5 of the 1977 season ended in Week 2 of the season.
|Points scored||Indianapolis Colts (522)|
|Total yards gained||Kansas City Chiefs (6,695)|
|Yards rushing||Atlanta Falcons (2,672)|
|Yards passing||Indianapolis Colts (4,623)|
|Fewest points allowed||Pittsburgh Steelers (251)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Pittsburgh Steelers (4,134)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Pittsburgh Steelers (1,299)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,579)|
|Scoring||Adam Vinatieri, New England (141 points)|
|Touchdowns||Shaun Alexander, Seattle (20 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Adam Vinatieri, New England (31 FGs)|
|Passing||Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota (4717 yards)|
|Passing Touchdowns||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (49 TDs)|
|Passer Rating||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (121.1 rating)|
|Rushing||Curtis Martin, New York Jets (1,697 yards)|
|Rushing Touchdowns||LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (17 TDs)|
|Receptions||Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (102)|
|Receiving yards||Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina (1,405)|
|Punt returns||Eddie Drummond, Detroit (13.2 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Willie Ponder, New York Giants (26.9 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Ed Reed, Baltimore (9)|
|Punting||Shane Lechler, Oakland (46.7 average yards)|
|Sacks||Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis (16)|
|Most Valuable Player||Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis|
|Coach of the Year||Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Ed Reed, Safety, Baltimore|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Pittsburgh|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Jonathan Vilma, Linebacker, New York Jets|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Drew Brees, Quarterback, San Diego|
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Warrick Dunn, Running Back, Atlanta|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Deion Branch, Wide Receiver, New England|
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