1995 NFL season

1995 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 3 – December 25, 1995
Playoffs
Start date December 30, 1995
AFC Champions Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC Champions Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl XXX
Date January 28, 1996
Site Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
Champions Dallas Cowboys
Pro Bowl
Date February 4, 1996
Site Aloha Stadium

The 1995 NFL season was the 76th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded to 30 teams with the addition of the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two expansion teams were slotted into the two remaining divisions that previously had only four teams (while the other four had five teams): the AFC Central (Jaguars) and the NFC West (Panthers).

Meanwhile, the two teams in Los Angeles relocated to other cities: the Rams transferred to St. Louis (but would return to Los Angeles in 2016) and the Raiders moved back to Oakland. During the course of the season it emerged that the Cleveland Browns would relocate to Baltimore for the 1996 season. The Raiders’ move was not announced until after the schedule had been announced, which resulted in a problem in the third week of the season when both the Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers had games scheduled to air on NBC which ended up overlapping each other. The Raiders game was rescheduled for 10:00 AM PDT in case they were to relocate and NBC was given the doubleheader so that both Bay Area teams had their games televised locally.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXX, when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27–17 at the Sun Devil Stadium. They became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years. This season was legendary Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula’s last season as coach.

Major rule changes

  • An eligible receiver forced out of bounds by a defensive player may return to the field and automatically become eligible to legally be the first player to touch a forward pass.
  • Quarterbacks may now receive communications from the bench from a small radio receiver in their helmets, partly repealing a rule that had been in force since 1956.

Final regular season standings

Tiebreakers

  • Indianapolis finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • San Diego was the first AFC Wild Card based on head-to-head victory over Indianapolis (1–0).
  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston in the AFC Central based on better division record (4–4 to Oilers’ 3–5).
  • Seattle finished ahead of Denver and Oakland in the AFC West based on best head-to-head record (3–1 to Broncos’ 2–2 and Raiders’ 1–3).
  • Denver finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Philadelphia was the first NFC Wild Card ahead of Detroit based on better conference record (9–3 to Lions’ 7–5).
  • San Francisco was the second NFC playoff seed ahead of Green Bay based on better conference record (8–4 to Packers’ 7–5).
  • Atlanta was the third NFC Wild Card ahead of Chicago based on better record against common opponents (4–2 to Bears’ 3–3).
  • St. Louis finished ahead of Carolina and New Orleans in the NFC West based on best head-to-head record (3–1 to Panthers’ 1–3 and Saints’ 2–2).
  • Carolina finished ahead of New Orleans in the NFC West based on better conference record (4–8 to 3–9).

Playoffs

                                   
Dec. 31 – Lambeau Field   Jan. 6 – 3Com Park          
 6  Atlanta  20
 3  Green Bay  27
 3  Green Bay  37     Jan. 14 – Texas Stadium
 2  San Francisco  17  
NFC
Dec. 30 – Veterans Stadium  3  Green Bay  27
Jan. 7 – Texas Stadium
   1  Dallas  38  
 5  Detroit  37 NFC Championship
 4  Philadelphia  11
 4  Philadelphia  58   Jan. 28 – Sun Devil Stadium
 1  Dallas  30  
Wild card playoffs  
Divisional playoffs
Dec. 31 – Jack Murphy Stadium  N1  Dallas  27
Jan. 7 – Arrowhead Stadium
   A2  Pittsburgh  17
 5  Indianapolis  35 Super Bowl XXX
 5  Indianapolis  10
 4  San Diego  20     Jan. 14 – Three Rivers Stadium
 1  Kansas City  7  
AFC
Dec. 30 – Rich Stadium  5  Indianapolis  16
Jan. 6 – Three Rivers Stadium
   2  Pittsburgh  20  
 6  Miami  22 AFC Championship
 3  Buffalo  21
 3  Buffalo  37  
 2  Pittsburgh  40  

Coaching changes

In-season

Statistical leaders

Team

Points scoredSan Francisco 49ers (457)
Total yards gainedDetroit Lions (6,113)
Yards rushingKansas City Chiefs (2,222)
Yards passingSan Francisco 49ers (4,608)
Fewest points allowedKansas City Chiefs (241)
Fewest total yards allowedSan Francisco 49ers (4,398)
Fewest rushing yards allowedSan Francisco 49ers (1,061)
Fewest passing yards allowedNew York Jets (2,740)

Individual

ScoringEmmitt Smith, Dallas (150 points)
TouchdownsEmmitt Smith, Dallas (25 TDs)
Most field goals madeNorm Johnson, Pittsburgh (34 FGs)
RushingEmmitt Smith, Dallas (1,773 yards)
PassingJim Harbaugh, Indianapolis (100.7 rating)
Passing touchdownsBrett Favre, Green Bay (38 TDs)
Pass receivingHerman Moore, Detroit (123 catches)
Pass receiving yardsJerry Rice, San Francisco (1,848)
Punt returnsDavid Palmer, Minnesota (13.2 average yards)
Kickoff returnsRon Carpenter, New York Jets (27.7 average yards)
InterceptionsOrlando Thomas, Minnesota (9)
PuntingRick Tuten, Seattle (45.0 average yards)
SacksBryce Paup, Buffalo (17.5)

The 1995 season produced four of the top eleven highest single-season totals for receiving yards. The top two receiving yard totals of all time – Jerry Rice's 1,848 & Isaac Bruce's 1,781 – were recorded in 1995. Detroit Lions receiver Herman Moore gained 1,686 yards (6th highest all time) and Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin gained 1,603 yards (11th most in NFL history).

Milestones

The following players set all-time records during the season:

Most Touchdowns, seasonEmmitt Smith, Dallas (25)
Most Passing Attempts, careerDan Marino, Miami (6,531 at the end of the season)
Most Passes Completed, careerDan Marino, Miami (3,913 at the end of the season)
Most Passing Yards, careerDan Marino, Miami (48,841 at the end of the season)
Most Touchdown Passes, careerDan Marino, Miami (352 at the end of the season)
Most Pass Receptions, careerJerry Rice, San Francisco (942 at the end of the season)
Most Pass Receiving Yards Gained, careerJerry Rice, San Francisco (15,123 at the end of the season)

Awards

Most Valuable PlayerBrett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay
Coach of the YearRay Rhodes, Philadelphia
Offensive Player of the YearBrett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay
Defensive Player of the YearBryce Paup, Linebacker, Buffalo
Offensive Rookie of the YearCurtis Martin, Running Back, New England
Defensive Rookie of the YearHugh Douglas, Defensive End, New York Jets
NFL Comeback Player of the YearJim Harbaugh, Quarterback, Indianapolis and Garrison Hearst, Running Back, Arizona
NFL Man of the Year AwardBoomer Esiason, Quarterback, NY Jets
Super Bowl Most Valuable PlayerLarry Brown, Cornerback, Dallas

Draft

The 1995 NFL Draft was held from April 22 to 23, 1995 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected running back Ki-Jana Carter from Penn State University.

References

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