2006 NFL season

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2006 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 7 – December 31, 2006
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 6, 2007
AFC Champions Indianapolis Colts
NFC Champions Chicago Bears
Super Bowl XLI
DateFebruary 4, 2007
Site Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Champions Indianapolis Colts
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 10, 2007 (2007-02-10)
Site Aloha Stadium
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Patriots
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Bills
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Dolphins
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Jets
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Bengals
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Ravens
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Steelers
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Browns
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Colts
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Titans
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Jaguars
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Texans
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Broncos
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Chiefs
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Raiders
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Chargers
AFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, Blue pog.svg North, Red pog.svg South, White pog.svg East
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Cowboys
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Giants
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Eagles
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Redskins
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Bears
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Lions
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Packers
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Vikings
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Falcons
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Panthers
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Saints
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Buccaneers
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Cardinals
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Rams
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Seahawks
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49ers
NFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, Blue pog.svg North, Red pog.svg South, White pog.svg East

The 2006 NFL season was the 87th regular season of the National Football League. Regular season play was held from September 7 to December 31, 2006.

Contents

The season began with the reigning Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh defeating the Miami in the NFL Kickoff Game.

The NFL title was eventually won by Indianapolis, when they defeated Chicago in Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium at Miami Gardens, Florida on February 4, 2007.

New NFL commissioner

On March 20, 2006, Paul Tagliabue announced his plans to retire as NFL commissioner. During an NFL meeting in Northbrook, Illinois, on August 8, league team owners selected Roger Goodell, the NFL's then-current chief operating officer, as the new commissioner. Tagliabue continued to serve as commissioner until Goodell officially replaced him on Friday September 1.

Tagliabue became NFL commissioner on October 26, 1989. During his tenure, the league added four new teams; saw four franchises move (including two franchises—the Rams and Raiders—from Los Angeles, the second-largest television market in the U.S.); the construction of seventeen new stadiums; began its own in-house television specialty cable network, the NFL Network; greatly increased television rights fees with its broadcasters, including the addition of the Fox network and its NFL programming; and maintained labor peace with the players' union.

Draft

The 2006 NFL Draft was held from April 29 to 30, 2006 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. With the first pick, the Houston Texans selected defensive end Mario Williams from North Carolina State University.

New referees

Bernie Kukar and Tom White retired. Jerome Boger and Gene Steratore were promoted to referee.

Major rule changes

The Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers in snow at Qwest Field, November 27, 2006 Packers offense lines up vs Seahawks 2006-11-27.jpg
The Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers in snow at Qwest Field, November 27, 2006

Officials' uniform makeover

The 2006 season marked the debut of new officiating uniforms which are supposed to be more comfortable for officials to wear in extreme weather over the old polyester uniforms. The uniforms were designed by Reebok using a proprietary material technology to keep officials both warm and dry during the winter months of the season. On the shirt, the position and number are removed from the front pocket and the lettering and numbers on the back side were black-on-white and are smaller print and the sleeve shows the uniform number. Officials also wore full-length black pants with white stripe during the winter months to stay warm, which was criticized by media. Also, a black stripe was added to each side of the white knickers. This was the first major design overhaul since 1979, when the position name was added to the shirt, but later abbreviated in 1982.

Return of "The Duke" football

A Philadelphia fumble is recovered by Washington's Ade Jimoh, week 14 Ade Jimoh recovers fumble.jpg
A Philadelphia fumble is recovered by Washington's Ade Jimoh, week 14

For the first time since Super Bowl IV at the conclusion of the 1969 season, the official NFL game ball was known as "The Duke" in honor of Wellington Mara, whose family owns the New York Giants. Son John is the current CEO of the team. The NFL first used "The Duke" ball in honor of owner Tim Mara (Wellington's father) made a deal with Wilson Sporting Goods to become the league's official supplier of game balls, a relationship that continued into its sixty-fifth year in 2006. [2]

"The Duke" ball was discontinued after the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, and the merged league began using a different standardized ball made by Wilson. The only other time that "The Duke" ball name was used was during the two "Thanksgiving Classic" games in 2004.

One side of the new 2006 "Duke" football featured the NFL shield logo in gold, the words "The Duke", and the NFL commissioner's signature. The obverse side has a small NFL logo above the needle bladder hole, the conference names between the hole, and the words "National Football League" in gold. As per the custom, specially branded balls were used for the first week of the 2006 season (the "Opening Kickoff") as well as for the Thanksgiving Day, conference championships, Super Bowl XLI and Pro Bowl games.

2006 deaths

Death of Lamar Hunt

Lamar Hunt died in Dallas, Texas on December 13 from complications from prostate cancer at the age of 74. He is credited with challenging the NFL with the formation of the American Football League, which led to the subsequent merger of the two leagues.

Death of two Broncos

At 3 a.m. on January 1, 2007, Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in Denver, within hours after the last regular season game against the San Francisco 49ers. Less than two months after, on February 24, 2007, Broncos running back Damien Nash collapsed and died after a charity basketball game at a high school. Both players died at the age of 24.

Flexible scheduling added to regular season

This was the first season that the NFL used a "flexible-scheduling" for the last few weeks of the season, allowing the league flexibility in selecting games to air on Sunday night, in order to feature the current hottest, streaking teams. This was implemented to prevent games featuring losing teams from airing during primetime late in the season, while at the same time allowing NBC to rake in more money off of the higher ratings from surprise, playoff-potential teams that more fans would enjoy watching.

Under the flexible-scheduling system, all Sunday games in the affected weeks tentatively had the start times of 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, except those played in the Pacific or Mountain time zones, which will have a tentative start time of 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (or 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT if it is a doubleheader weekend). On the Tuesday 12 days before the games, the league moved one game to the primetime slot, and possibly one or more 1 p.m. slotted games to the 4 p.m. slots. During the last week of the season, the league could reschedule games as late as six days before the contests so that all of the television networks will be able to broadcast a game that has playoff implications.

Final regular season standings

Tiebreakers

Source:2007 NFL Record and Fact Book ( ISBN   978-1-933821-85-6)

Playoffs

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.

Playoff seeds
Seed AFC NFC
1 San Diego Chargers (West winner) Chicago Bears (North winner)
2 Baltimore Ravens (North winner) New Orleans Saints (South winner)
3 Indianapolis Colts (South winner) Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)
4 New England Patriots (East winner) Seattle Seahawks (West winner)
5 New York Jets (wild card) Dallas Cowboys (wild card)
6 Kansas City Chiefs (wild card) New York Giants (wild card)

    Bracket

    Jan 7 – Gillette Stadium Jan 14 – Qualcomm Stadium
    5 NY Jets 16
    4New England24
    4 New England 37Jan 21 – RCA Dome
    1 San Diego 21
    AFC
    Jan 6 – RCA Dome 4New England34
    Jan 13 – M&T Bank Stadium
    3Indianapolis38
    6 Kansas City 8AFC Championship
    3Indianapolis15
    3 Indianapolis 23Feb 4 – Dolphin Stadium
    2 Baltimore 6
    Wild Card playoffs
    Divisional playoffs
    Jan 7 – Lincoln Financial Field A3Indianapolis29
    Jan 13 – Louisiana Superdome
    N1Chicago17
    6 NY Giants 20 Super Bowl XLI
    3Philadelphia24
    3 Philadelphia 23Jan 21 – Soldier Field
    2 New Orleans 27
    NFC
    Jan 6 – Qwest Field 2New Orleans14
    Jan 14 – Soldier Field
    1Chicago39
    5 Dallas 20NFC Championship
    4Seattle24
    4 Seattle 21
    1 Chicago 27*


    * Indicates overtime victory

    Pro Bowl

    Milestones

    The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the regular season:

    RecordPlayer/teamDate/opponentPrevious record holder [3]
    Most Points, career Morten Andersen, AtlantaDecember 16 vs. Dallas Gary Anderson, 1982–2004 (2,434)
    Most field goals, careerMorten Andersen, AtlantaDecember 24 vs. CarolinaGary Anderson, 1982–2004 (538)
    Most passes completed, career Brett Favre, Green BayDecember 17 vs. Detroit Dan Marino, 1983–1999 (4,967)
    Most touchdowns, season LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (31)December 10 vs. Denver Shaun Alexander, Seattle, 2005 (28)
    Most rushing touchdowns, seasonLaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (28)December 10 vs. DenverShaun Alexander, 2005
    Priest Holmes, 2003 (27)
    Most Points, seasonLaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (186)December 17 vs. Kansas City Paul Hornung, 1960 (176)
    Most rushing attempts, season Larry Johnson, Kansas City (416)December 31 vs. Jacksonville Jamal Anderson, Atlanta, 1998 (410)
    Most kick returns for a touchdown, season Devin Hester, Chicago (5; 3 punts and 2 kickoffs)December 11 at St. LouisTied by 9 players (4)

    Regular season statistical leaders

    Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najeh Davenport against the Baltimore Ravens in week 12 of the 2006 season NajehDavenport Steelers 2006.jpg
    Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najeh Davenport against the Baltimore Ravens in week 12 of the 2006 season

    Team

    Points scoredSan Diego Chargers (492)
    Total yards gainedNew Orleans Saints (6,264)
    Yards rushingAtlanta Falcons (2,939)
    Yards passingNew Orleans Saints (4,503)
    Fewest points allowedBaltimore Ravens (201)
    Fewest total yards allowedBaltimore Ravens (4,225)
    Fewest rushing yards allowedMinnesota Vikings (985)
    Fewest passing yards allowedOakland Raiders (2,413)

    Individual

    Scoring LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (186 points)
    TouchdownsLaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (31 TDs)
    Most field goals made Robbie Gould, Chicago and Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis (32 FGs)
    RushingLaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (1,815 yards)
    Passer rating Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (101.0 rating)
    Passing touchdownsPeyton Manning, Indianapolis (31 TDs)
    Passing yards Drew Brees, New Orleans (4,418 yards)
    Pass receptions Andre Johnson, Houston (103 catches)
    Pass receiving yards Chad Johnson, Cincinnati (1,369 yards)
    Punt returns Adam "Pacman" Jones, Tennessee (12.9 average yards)
    Kickoff returns Justin Miller, New York Jets (28.3 average yards)
    Interceptions Asante Samuel, New England and Champ Bailey, Denver (10)
    Punting Mat McBriar, Dallas (48.2 average yards)
    Sacks Shawne Merriman, San Diego (17)

    Awards

    Most Valuable Player LaDainian Tomlinson, running back, San Diego Chargers
    Coach of the Year Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
    Offensive Player of the Year LaDainian Tomlinson, running back, San Diego Chargers
    Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor, defensive end, Miami Dolphins
    Offensive Rookie of the Year Vince Young, quarterback, Tennessee Titans
    Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans, linebacker, Houston Texans
    NFL Comeback Player of the Year Chad Pennington, quarterback, New York Jets
    Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year LaDainian Tomlinson, running back, San Diego Chargers and Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints
    Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts

    All-Pro Team
    Offense
    Quarterback Drew Brees, New Orleans
    Running back LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego
    Larry Johnson, Kansas City
    Fullback Lorenzo Neal, San Diego
    Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis
    Chad Johnson, Cincinnati
    Tight end Antonio Gates, San Diego
    Offensive tackle Willie Anderson, Cincinnati
    Jammal Brown, New Orleans
    Offensive guard Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh
    Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia
    Center Olin Kreutz, Chicago
    Defense
    Defensive end Jason Taylor, Miami
    Julius Peppers, Carolina
    Defensive tackle Jamal Williams, San Diego
    Kevin Williams, Minnesota
    Outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, San Diego
    Adalius Thomas, Baltimore
    Inside linebacker Brian Urlacher, Chicago
    Zach Thomas, Miami
    Cornerback Champ Bailey, Denver
    Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville
    Safety Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia
    Ed Reed, Baltimore
    Special teams
    Kicker Robbie Gould, Chicago
    Punter Brian Moorman, Buffalo
    Kick returner Devin Hester, Chicago

    Team superlatives

    Offense

    • Most points scored: San Diego, 492
    • Fewest points scored: Oakland, 168
    • Most total offensive yards: New Orleans, 6,264
    • Fewest total offensive yards: Oakland, 3,939
    • Most total passing yards: New Orleans, 4,503
    • Fewest total passing yards: Atlanta, 2,371
    • Most rushing yards: Atlanta, 2,939
    • Fewest rushing yards: Detroit, 1,129

    [4]

    Defense

    • Fewest points allowed: Baltimore, 201
    • Most points allowed: San Francisco, 412
    • Fewest total yards allowed: Baltimore, 4,225
    • Most total yards allowed: Tennessee, 5,915
    • Fewest passing yards allowed: Oakland, 2,413
    • Most passing yards allowed: Cincinnati / Minnesota (tie), 3,818
    • Fewest rushing yards allowed: Minnesota, 985
    • Most rushing yards allowed: Indianapolis, 2,768

    [5]

    Coaching changes

    Stadium changes

    Uniform changes

    Ticket sellouts

    Through week 11 of the season, all NFL games had been sold out, and for the 24th time, all blackout restrictions had been lifted. [6] The streak was ended by the Jacksonville at Buffalo game in Week 12. [7]

    Television

    CBS's The NFL Today, Super Bowl XLI Super Bowl XLI pre-game show in Miami.jpg
    CBS's The NFL Today, Super Bowl XLI

    This was the first season that NBC held the rights to televise Sunday Night Football , becoming the beneficiaries by negotiating the new flexible-scheduling system (it also marked the network's return to carrying NFL games since the end of the 1997 season). [8] ESPN became the new home of Monday Night Football , replacing sister network ABC, who chose to opt out of broadcasting league games. [8] Meanwhile, CBS and Fox renewed their television contracts to the AFC and the NFC packages, respectively. [9] ESPN's new deal was for eight seasons through 2013, while the new agreements with NBC, CBS, and Fox were initially for six seasons through 2011. [8] [9]

    Initially, NBC was able to hire color commentator John Madden, MNF lead producer Fred Gaudelli, and MNF director Drew Esocoff from ABC. However, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels remained under contract with ABC/ESPN, and plans were originally for him to be teamed with Joe Theismann, who would be coming over from ESPN Sunday Night Football. [10] In February 2006, the two networks' parent companies, The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal, agreed to a multi-asset trade that, among others, allowed Michaels to sign with NBC, while Disney took ownership of the intellectual property of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (a cartoon character developed by Walt Disney himself in the 1920s) from NBCUniversal. [11] ESPN then opted to go with Mike Tirico on play-by-play, and Theismann and Tony Kornheiser as analysts. [12]

    For its new pregame show Football Night in America , NBC gained the exclusive rights from ESPN's NFL Primetime to show extensive highlights of Sunday afternoon games prior to Sunday Night Football. ESPN responded by moving its show to Mondays. Bob Costas became the host of Football Night in America, while Cris Collinsworth, Jerome Bettis, and Sterling Sharpe became its studio analysts.

    The league-owned NFL Network was given an eight-game package, consisting of five Thursday Night Football games and three Saturday game that began airing from Thanksgiving to the end of the regular season. The NFL Network hired HBO Sports' Bryant Gumbel as play-by-play announcer, NBC's Collinsworth as the color commentator for the Thursday telecasts, and Dick Vermeil replacing Collinsworth for Saturday telecasts.

    James Brown moved from Fox to CBS, replacing Greg Gumbel as host of The NFL Today . Gumbel then replaced Dick Enberg as the network's #2 play-by-play announcer, and Enberg was demoted to #3.

    Fox announced that Joe Buck would replace Brown as lead host on Fox NFL Sunday . Because Buck was already serving as Fox's lead play-by-play announcer, the pregame show was primarily broadcast from the site where Buck was calling the game, and Curt Menefee hosted the halftime and postgame segments. Menefee substituted for Buck as the full-time host when Buck was calling the Major League Baseball playoffs.

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