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1977 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 18, 1977 - December 18, 1977
Playoffs
Start date December 24, 1977
AFC Champions Denver Broncos
NFC Champions Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl XII
Date January 15, 1978
Site Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Dallas Cowboys
Pro Bowl
Date January 23, 1978
Site Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida
National Football League seasons
 < 1976 1978 > 

The 1977 NFL season was the 58th regular season of the National Football League. The Seattle Seahawks were placed in the AFC West while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were slotted in the NFC Central.

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Day game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, the league scheduled a Miami Dolphins at St. Louis Cardinals contest. This would be only the second season since 1966 that the Cowboys did not play on that holiday.

This was the last NFL regular season with 14 games. The regular season was expanded to 16 games in 1978, with the preseason reduced from six games to four.

The season ended with Super Bowl XII when the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos.

Contents

Major rule changes

  • The head slap is outlawed. This change is referred to as the "Deacon Jones Rule"; the Rams defensive end frequently used this technique.
  • Any shoe worn by a player with an artificial limb must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe. Informally referred to as the "Tom Dempsey Rule." Dempsey is a record-breaking placekicker whose modified shoe (having a flattened and enlarged toe area) on his deformed kicking foot generated controversy during his career.
  • Defenders are only permitted to make contact with receivers once.
  • Defenders are not allowed to make contact with an opponent above the shoulders with the palms of their hands, except to ward him off the line.
  • Offensive linemen are not allowed to thrust their hands to a defender's neck, face, or head.
  • Wide receivers are not allowed to clip defenders.

Division races

Tampa Bay and Seattle continued as "swing" teams that didn't participate in regular conference play. Every other NFL team played a home-and-away series against the other members in its division, three interconference games, and the remainder of their 14 game schedule against other conference teams. Tampa Bay switched to the NFC and played the other 13 members of the conference, while Seattle did the same in the AFC. The teams met in Week Five, with Seattle winning 30-23.

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

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 3 teams 1-0 (Chi, GB) 1-0 ATLANTA 1-0 3 teams 1-0
2 DALLAS 2-0 4 teams 1-1 ATLANTA* 1-1 8 teams 1-1
3 DALLAS 3-0 MINNESOTA 2-1* ATLANTA 2-1 3 teams 2-1
4 DALLAS 4-0 MINNESOTA 3-1 ATLANTA 3-1 WASHINGTON 3-1
5 DALLAS 5-0 MINNESOTA 4-1 ATLANTA* 3-2 3 teams 3-2
6 DALLAS 6-0 MINNESOTA 4-2 ATLANTA* 4-2 LOS ANGELES 4-2
7 DALLAS 7-0 MINNESOTA 5-2 ATLANTA* 4-3 ST. LOUIS* 4-3
8 DALLAS 8-0 MINNESOTA 5-3 LOS ANGELES 5-3 ST. LOUIS* 5-3
9 DALLAS 8-1 MINNESOTA 6-3 LOS ANGELES 6-3 ST. LOUIS* 6-3
10 DALLAS 8-2 MINNESOTA 6-4 LOS ANGELES 7-3 ST. LOUIS 7-3
11 DALLAS 9-2 MINNESOTA 7-4 LOS ANGELES 8-3 ST. LOUIS 7-4
12 DALLAS 10-2 MINNESOTA 8-4 LOS ANGELES 8-4 ST. LOUIS* 7-5
13 DALLAS 11-2 CHICAGO* 8-5 LOS ANGELES 10-3 WASHINGTON* 8-5
14 DALLAS 12-2 MINNESOTA* 9-5 LOS ANGELES 10-4 CHICAGO* 9-5

* other teams with same W-L record

American Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 (Bal, Mia) 1-0 3 teams 1-0 (Den, Oak) 1-0 5 teams 1-0
2 (Bal, Mia) 2-0 (Cle, Hou) 2-0 (Den, Oak) 2-0 3 teams 2-0-0
3 (Bal, Mia) 3-0 CLEVELAND* 2-1 (Den, Oak) 3-0 2 teams 3-0
4 BALTIMORE 4-0 HOUSTON 3-1 (Den, Oak) 4-0 2 teams 4-0
5 BALTIMORE 5-0 PITTSBURGH* 3-2 DENVER 5-0 OAKLAND* 4-1
6 BALTIMORE* 5-1 PITTSBURGH* 3-2 DENVER 6-0 OAKLAND* 5-1
7 BALTIMORE 6-1 CLEVELAND 5-2 OAKLAND* 6-1 DENVER 6-1
8 BALTIMORE 7-1 CLEVELAND 5-3 OAKLAND* 7-1 DENVER 7-1
9 BALTIMORE 8-1 PITTSBURGH* 5-4 OAKLAND* 8-1 DENVER 8-1
10 BALTIMORE 9-1 PITTSBURGH* 6-4 DENVER 9-1 OAKLAND 8-2
11 BALTIMORE* 9-2 PITTSBURGH 7-4 DENVER 10-1 OAKLAND 9-2
12 BALTIMORE* 9-3 PITTSBURGH 8-4 DENVER 11-1 OAKLAND 9-3
13 BALTIMORE* 9-4 PITTSBURGH* 8-5 DENVER 12-1 OAKLAND 10-3
14 BALTIMORE* 10-4 PITTSBURGH 9-5 DENVER 12-2 OAKLAND 11-3

* other teams with same W-L record

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

   x  - clinched wild card berth,    y  - clinched division title

AFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Baltimore Colts 10 4 0 .714 295 221
Miami Dolphins 10 4 0 .714 313 197
New England Patriots 9 5 0 .643 278 217
Buffalo Bills 3 11 0 .214 160 313
New York Jets 3 11 0 .214 191 300
AFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Pittsburgh Steelers 9 5 0 .643 283 243
Cincinnati Bengals 8 6 0 .571 238 235
Houston Oilers 8 6 0 .571 299 230
Cleveland Browns 6 8 0 .429 269 267
AFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Denver Broncos 12 2 0 .857 274 148
x-Oakland Raiders 11 3 0 .786 351 230
San Diego Chargers 7 7 0 .500 222 205
Seattle Seahawks 5 9 0 .357 282 373
Kansas City Chiefs 2 12 0 .143 225 349
NFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Dallas Cowboys 12 2 0 .857 345 212
Washington Redskins 9 5 0 .643 196 189
St. Louis Cardinals 7 7 0 .500 272 287
Philadelphia Eagles 5 9 0 .357 220 207
New York Giants 5 9 0 .357 181 265
NFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Minnesota Vikings 9 5 0 .643 231 227
x-Chicago Bears 9 5 0 .643 255 253
Detroit Lions 6 8 0 .429 183 252
Green Bay Packers 4 10 0 .286 134 219
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 12 0 .143 103 223
NFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Los Angeles Rams 10 4 0 .714 302 146
Atlanta Falcons 7 7 0 .500 179 129
San Francisco 49ers 5 9 0 .357 220 260
New Orleans Saints 3 11 0 .214 232 336


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Tiebreakers

  • Baltimore finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on better conference record (9-3 to Dolphins' 8-4).
  • Buffalo finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better strength of schedule (.582 to Jets' .536).
  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston in the AFC Central based on better division record (6-3 to Oilers' 5-4).
  • Minnesota finished ahead of Chicago in the NFC Central based on fewer losses by common opponents (11 losses to 14 losses by the Bears' opponents).
  • Chicago won the NFC Wild Card over Washington based on better net points in conference games (48 to Redskins' 4).
  • Philadelphia finished ahead of N.Y. Giants in the NFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).

Playoffs

Divisional Playoffs Conf. Championship Games Super Bowl XII
                   
December 26 - L.A. Memorial Coliseum        
 3) Minnesota Vikings  14
January 1 - Texas Stadium
 2) Los Angeles Rams  7  
 3) Minnesota Vikings  6
December 26 - Texas Stadium
   1) Dallas Cowboys  23  
 4) Chicago Bears  7
January 15 - Louisiana Superdome
 1) Dallas Cowboys  37  
 N1) Dallas Cowboys  27
December 24 - Memorial Stadium
   A1) Denver Broncos  10
 4) Oakland Raiders (2OT)  37
January 1 - Mile High Stadium
 2)* Baltimore Colts  31  
 4) Oakland Raiders  17
December 24 - Mile High Stadium
   1) Denver Broncos  20  
 3) Pittsburgh Steelers  21
 1)* Denver Broncos  34  

*Denver (the AFC 1 seed) did not play Oakland (the 4 seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.

References

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1971-1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • 1977 season in details
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1977 NFL season
AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Baltimore Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Buffalo Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit Los Angeles
Miami Houston Oakland Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego St. Louis Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Seattle Washington Tampa Bay
1977 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XII

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