1980 NFL season

1980 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 7 – December 22, 1980
Start date December 28, 1980
AFC Champions Oakland Raiders
NFC Champions Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl XV
Date January 25, 1981
Site Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Oakland Raiders
Pro Bowl
Date February 1, 1981
Site Aloha Stadium

The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.

Prior to the season in March 1980, fellow NFL owners voted against the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles. Raider team owner Al Davis along with the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the NFL charging that they had violated antitrust laws. A verdict in the trial would not be decided until before the 1982 NFL season; the planned move to Los Angeles went through, however.

Meanwhile, the season ended at Super Bowl XV played on Jan. 25, 1981, in New Orleans, Louisiana, with these same Oakland Raiders defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10, making them the first Wild Card team ever to win the Super Bowl.[1]

Major rule changes

  • A ten-second runoff will be implemented when a team commits the following actions to conserve time within the last minute of either half or overtime (later changed to after the two-minute warning in the 2017 NFL season):
    • Fouls by either team that prevents the snap (i.e., false start, encroachment, etc.)
    • Intentional grounding
    • Illegal forward pass thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage
    • Throwing a backward pass out of bounds
    • Spiking or throwing the ball in the field of play after a down has ended, except after a touchdown
    • Any other intentional foul that causes the clock to stop.
    • Any excess time-out taken for injuries by either team.

Teams can take a time-out (if available) to prevent the runoff.[2]

  • Players are prohibited from striking, swinging, or clubbing to the head, face, or neck. The personal foul could be called whether or not the initial contact was made below the neck.
  • A "Guidelines for Captains" section was added to the rules.

Oakland Raiders announce future move to Los Angeles in defiance of NFL vote

In 1979, Raider owner Al Davis announced his intention to move the Raiders to Los Angeles. Negotiations between Davis and the Oakland Coliseum regarding potential improvements to the facility came to an end in February 1980. At the NFL’s annual meeting on March 10, 1980, team owners voted 22-0 against allowing the move, with the Raiders not participating and five teams abstaining. Davis announced he would ignore the vote and move the team anyway.[3]

The Raiders played the entire 1980 season in Oakland. At a Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos on December 1, 1980, Raider fans protested by entering the Oakland Coliseum five minutes after the start of the game and holding up signs stating "Save Our Raiders" at each half's 2-minute warning. By some estimates, “almost two-thirds” of the Coliseum's seats had been empty at the game's kickoff.[3]

The announced move was involved in four lawsuits: the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission sued the NFL charging antitrust violations, the NFL sued the Raiders charging breach of contract, Raider season ticket holders filed a class-action lawsuit, and the City of Oakland filed for eminent domain of the team.[3]

In May 1982, a jury ruled that the NFL had violated antitrust law by attempting to prevent the move. In April 1983, after the team's first season in Los Angeles, a separate jury awarded the Raiders $35 million in damages.[3]

Division Races

From 1978 to 1989, ten teams qualified for the playoffs: the winners of each of the divisions, and two wild-card teams in each conference. These are the leaders for each playoff slot, week by week. Teams listed in Week 16 indicate playoff participants.

National Football Conference

Week NFC East NFC Central NFC West Wild Card Wild Card
1 3 teams 1–0 4 teams 1–0 San Francisco 1–0
2 Philadelphia 2–0 Detroit, Tampa Bay 2–0 San Francisco 2–0
3 Philadelphia 3–0 Detroit 3–0 San Francisco 3–0 Dallas, Tampa Bay, Minnesota 2–1
4 Philadelphia, Dallas 3–1 Detroit 4–0 San Francisco 3–1 Philadelphia, Dallas 3–1 4 teams 2–2
5 Philadelphia, Dallas 4–1 Detroit 4–1 San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta 3–2 Philadelphia, Dallas 4–1 San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta 3–2
6 Philadelphia, Dallas 5–1 Detroit 5–1 Los Angeles 4–2 Philadelphia, Dallas 5–1 Minnesota, San Francisco, Atlanta 3–3
7 Philadelphia 6–1 Detroit 5–2 Los Angeles 5–2 Dallas 5–2 Atlanta 4–3
8 Philadelphia 7–1 Detroit 5–3 Los Angeles, Atlanta 5–3 Dallas 6–2 Los Angeles, Atlanta 5–3
9 Philadelphia 8–1 Detroit 6–3 Los Angeles, Atlanta 6–3 Dallas 7–2 Los Angeles, Atlanta 6–3
10 Philadelphia 9–1 Detroit 6–4 Atlanta 7–3 Dallas 7–3 Los Angeles 6–4
11 Philadelphia 10–1 Detroit, Minnesota 6–5 Atlanta 8–3 Dallas 8–3 Los Angeles 7–4
12 Philadelphia 11–1 Detroit 7–5 Atlanta 9–3 Dallas 9–3 Los Angeles 8–4
13 Philadelphia 11–2 Detroit, Minnesota 7–6 Atlanta 10–3 Dallas 10–3 Los Angeles 9–4
14 Philadelphia, Dallas 11–3 Minnesota 8–6 Atlanta 11–3 Philadelphia, Dallas 11–3 Los Angeles 9–5
15 Philadelphia 12–3 Minnesota 9–6 Atlanta 12–3 Dallas 11–4 Los Angeles 10–5
16 Philadelphia 12–4 Minnesota 9–7 Atlanta 12–4 Dallas 12–4 Los Angeles 11–5

American Football Conference

Week AFC East AFC Central AFC West Wild Card Wild Card
1 3 teams 1–0 Pittsburgh 1–0 San Diego, Oakland 1–0
2 Buffalo 2–0 Pittsburgh 2–0 San Diego 2–0
3 Buffalo 3–0 Pittsburgh, Houston 2–1 San Diego 3–0 Pittsburgh, Houston, Miami, New England, Oakland 2–1
4 Buffalo 4–0 Pittsburgh, Houston 3–1 San Diego 4–0 Pittsburgh, Houston, Miami, New England 3–1 Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland, Seattle 2–2
5 Buffalo 5–0 Pittsburgh 4–1 San Diego 4–1 New England 4–1 Miami, Baltimore, Houston, Seattle 3–2
6 Buffalo, New England 5–1 Pittsburgh 4–2 San Diego 4–2 Buffalo, New England 5–1 Baltimore 4–2
7 New England 6–1 Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Houston 4–3 San Diego 5–2 Buffalo 5–2 6 teams 4–3
8 Buffalo, New England 6–2 Cleveland, Houston 5–3 San Diego, Oakland 5–3 Buffalo, New England 6–2 Cleveland, Houston, San Diego, Oakland 5–3
9 New England 7–2 Cleveland, Houston 6–3 San Diego, Oakland 6–3 Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston, San Diego, Oakland 6–3 Baltimore, Pittsburgh 5–4
10 Buffalo, New England 7–3 Cleveland, Houston 7–3 Oakland 7–3 Buffalo, New England, Cleveland, Houston 7–3 Pittsburgh, San Diego 6–4
11 Buffalo 8–3 Houston 8–3 Oakland 8–3 New England, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, San Diego 7–4 Miami, Baltimore, Denver 6–5
12 Buffalo 9–3 Cleveland, Houston 8–4 San Diego, Oakland 8–4 New England, Cleveland, Houston, San Diego, Oakland 8–4 Pittsburgh, Denver 7–5
13 Buffalo 9–4 Cleveland 9–4 San Diego, Oakland 9–4 San Diego, Oakland 9–4 New England, Pittsburgh, Houston 8–5
14 Buffalo 10–4 Cleveland 10–4 San Diego, Oakland 9–5 San Diego, Oakland, Houston 9–5 New England, Pittsburgh 8–6
15 Buffalo 10–5 Cleveland, Houston 10–5 San Diego, Oakland 10–5 Cleveland, Houston, San Diego, Oakland 10–5 New England, Pittsburgh 9–6
16 Buffalo 11–5 Cleveland 11–5 San Diego 11–5 Oakland 11–5 Houston 11–5

Final standings


  • Cleveland finished ahead of Houston in the AFC Central based on better conference record (8–4 to Oilers’ 7–5).
  • San Diego finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on better net points in division games (plus 60 net points to Raiders’ plus 37).
  • San Diego was the top AFC playoff seed based on better conference record than Cleveland and Buffalo (9–3 to Browns’ 8–4 and Bills’ 8–4).
  • Cleveland was the second AFC playoff seed based on better record against common opponents (5–2 to Bills’ 5–3).
  • Oakland was the first AFC Wild Card based on better conference record than Houston (9–3 to Oilers’ 7–5).
  • Kansas City finished ahead of Denver in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Philadelphia finished ahead of Dallas in the NFC East based on better net points in division games (plus 84 net points to Cowboys’ plus 50).
  • Atlanta was the top NFC playoff seed based on head-to-head victory over Philadelphia (1–0).
  • Minnesota finished ahead of Detroit in the NFC Central based on better conference record (8–4 to Lions' 9–5).
  • Tampa Bay finished ahead of Green Bay in the NFC Central based on better head-to-head record (1–0–1 to Packers' 0–1–1).


NOTE: The San Diego Chargers (the AFC 1 seed) did not play the Oakland Raiders (the 4 seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.
Divisional Playoffs
    Jan. 4 – Cleveland Stadium        
AFC Wild Card Game AFC Championship
 4  Oakland  14
Dec. 28 – Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum     Jan. 11 – Jack Murphy Stadium
 2*  Cleveland  12  
 5  Houston  7  4  Oakland  34
Jan. 3 – Jack Murphy Stadium
 4  Oakland  27      1  San Diego  27   Super Bowl XV
 3  Buffalo  14
    Jan. 25 – Louisiana Superdome
 1*  San Diego  20  
 A4  Oakland  27
Jan. 4 – Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium
NFC Wild Card Game NFC Championship    N2  Philadelphia  10
 4  Dallas  30
Dec. 28 – Texas Stadium     Jan. 11 – Veterans Stadium
 1  Atlanta  27  
 5  Los Angeles  13  4  Dallas  7
Jan. 3 – Veterans Stadium
 4  Dallas  34      2  Philadelphia  20  
 3  Minnesota  16
 2  Philadelphia  31  

Statistical leaders


Points scoredDallas Cowboys (454)
Total yards gainedSan Diego Chargers (6,410)
Yards rushingLos Angeles Rams (2,799)
Yards passingSan Diego Chargers (4,531)
Fewest points allowedPhiladelphia Eagles (222)
Fewest total yards allowedBuffalo Bills (4,101)
Fewest rushing yards allowedDetroit Lions (1,599)
Fewest passing yards allowedWashington Redskins (2,171)


Most Valuable PlayerBrian Sipe, Quarterback, Cleveland
Coach of the YearChuck Knox, Buffalo
Offensive Player of the YearEarl Campbell, Running back, Houston Oilers
Defensive Player of the YearLester Hayes, Cornerback, Oakland
Offensive Rookie of the YearBilly Sims, Running back, Detroit
Defensive Rookie of the YearBuddy Curry & Al Richardson, Linebackers, Atlanta
Man of the YearHarold Carmichael, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia
Comeback Player of the YearJim Plunkett, Quarterback, Oakland
Super Bowl Most Valuable PlayerJim Plunkett, Quarterback, Oakland


The 1980 NFL Draft was held from April 29 to 30, 1980 at New York City's Sheraton Hotel. With the first pick, the Detroit Lions selected running back Billy Sims from the University of Oklahoma.


American Football Conference

National Football Conference


  1. "NFL.com: Super Bowl XV Recap". Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  2. Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (First ed.). 1997. p. 1585. ISBN 0-06-270170-3.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Raiders fans reliving the Los Angeles nightmare, The Press Democrat, Phil Barber, Dec. 14, 2015.


  • 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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