1971 NFL season

1971 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 19 – December 19, 1971
Playoffs
Start date December 25, 1971
AFC Champions Miami Dolphins
NFC Champions Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl VI
Date January 16, 1972
Site Tulane Stadium,
New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Dallas Cowboys
Pro Bowl
Date January 23, 1972
Site Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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 AFC beat the NFC 26–13.

Major rule changes

  • Teams will not be charged a time out for an injured player unless the injury occurs inside the last two minutes of a half or overtime.
  • Missed field goal attempts can be run back.

Stadium 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

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 3 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 3 teams 1–0–0
2 2 teams 2–0–0 Chicago 2–0–0 Atlanta 1–0–1 2 teams 2–0–0
3 Washington 3–0–0 4 teams 2–1–0 San Francisco 2–1–0 5 teams 2–1–0
4 Washington 4–0–0 Chicago* 3–1–0 Los Angeles 2–1–1 3 teams 3–1–0
5 Washington 5–0–0 Minnesota* 4–1–0 Los Angeles 3–1–1 Detroit 4–1–0
6 Washington 5–1–0 Minnesota 5–1–0 Los Angeles 4–1–1 4 teams 4–2–0
7 Washington 6–1–0 Minnesota 6–1–0 San Francisco 5–2–0 Chicago 5–2–0
8 Washington 6–1–1 Minnesota 6–2–0 San Francisco 6–2–0 Detroit 5–2–1
9 Washington 6–2–1 Minnesota 7–2–0 San Francisco 6–3–0 Chicago* 6–3–0
10 Dallas 7–3–0 Minnesota 8–2–0 Los Angeles 6–3–1 Washington* 6–3–1
11 Dallas 8–3–0 Minnesota 9–2–0 San Francisco 7–4–0 Washington* 7–3–1
12 Dallas 9–3–0 Minnesota 9–3–0 Los Angeles 7–4–1 Washington 8–3–1
13 Dallas 10–3–0 Minnesota 10–3–0 San Francisco 8–5–0 Washington 9–3–1
14 Dallas 11–3–0 Minnesota 11–3–0 San Francisco 9–5–0 Washington 9–4–1

American Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 2 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 San Diego 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0
2 Miami 1–0–1 Cleveland 2–0–0 Oakland* 1–1–0 6 teams 1–1–0
3 Baltimore 2–1–0 Pittsburgh* 2–1–0 Oakland* 2–1–0 2 teams 2–1–0
4 Baltimore 3–1–0 Cleveland 3–1–0 Oakland* 3–1–0 Kansas City 3–1–0
5 Baltimore 4–1–0 Cleveland 4–1–0 Oakland* 4–1–0 Kansas City 4–1–0
6 Miami 4–1–1 Cleveland 4–2–0 Oakland* 5–1–0 Kansas City 5–1–0
7 Miami 5–1–1 Cleveland 4–3–0 Oakland* 5–1–1 Kansas City 5–1–1
8 Miami 6–1–1 Cleveland* 4–4–0 Oakland 5–1–2 Baltimore 6–2–0
9 Miami 7–1–1 Cleveland* 4–5–0 Oakland 6–1–2 Baltimore 7–2–0
10 Miami 8–1–1 Cleveland* 5–5–0 Oakland 7–1–2 Kansas City 7–2–1
11 Miami 9–1–1 Cleveland 6–5–0 Oakland 7–2–2 Baltimore 8–3–0
12 Miami 9–2–1 Cleveland 7–5–0 Kansas City 8–3–1 Baltimore 9–3–0
13 Baltimore 10–3–0 Cleveland 8–5–0 Kansas City 9–3–1 Miami 9–3–1
14 Miami 10–3–1 Cleveland 9–5–0 Kansas City 10–3–1 Baltimore 10–4–0

Final standings

Tiebreakers

  • New England finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better point differential in head to head games, 13 points.

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.
 
Divisional PlayoffsConf. Championship GamesSuper Bowl VI
 
          
 
December 26 – Candlestick Park
 
 
Washington Redskins20
 
January 2 – Texas Stadium
 
San Francisco 49ers24
 
San Francisco 49ers3
 
December 25 – Metropolitan Stadium
 
Dallas Cowboys14
 
Dallas Cowboys20
 
January 16 – Tulane Stadium
 
Minnesota Vikings12
 
Dallas Cowboys24
 
December 26 – Cleveland Stadium
 
Miami Dolphins3
 
Baltimore Colts20
 
January 2 – Miami Orange Bowl
 
Cleveland Browns3
 
Baltimore Colts0
 
December 25 – Municipal Stadium
 
Miami Dolphins21
 
Miami Dolphins (2OT)27
 
 
Kansas City Chiefs24
 

Awards

Most Valuable PlayerAlan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Coach of the YearGeorge Allen, Washington
Defensive Player of the YearAlan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the YearJohn Brockington, Running back, Green Bay
Defensive Rookie of the YearIsiah Robertson, Linebacker, Los Angeles

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.

Coaches

American Football Conference

National Football Conference

References

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1971–1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
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