1971 NFL season

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.

1971 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 19 – December 19, 1971
Playoffs
Start dateDecember 25, 1971
AFC ChampionsMiami Dolphins
NFC ChampionsDallas Cowboys
Super Bowl VI
DateJanuary 16, 1972
SiteTulane Stadium,
New Orleans, Louisiana
ChampionsDallas Cowboys
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 23, 1972
SiteLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum
1986 Jeno's Pizza - 01 - Duane Thomas
The Cowboys playing against the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

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 (since 1974).
  • Missed field goal attempts can be run back.

Stadium changes

New officials

Three referees--Walt Fitzgerald, Bob Finley and George Rennix--retired following the 1970 season. Bob Frederic, Dick Jorgensen and Fred Wyant were promoted to fill those vacancies. Rich Eichhorst, a back judge in 1970, resigned to concentrate on officiating college basketball; he was replaced by Don Or, who officiated in the league through 1995.

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

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Miami Dolphins 10 3 1 .769 5–3 7–3–1 315 174 W1
Baltimore Colts 10 4 0 .714 6–2 8–3 313 140 L1
New England Patriots 6 8 0 .429 4–4 6–5 238 325 W1
New York Jets 6 8 0 .429 4–4 6–5 212 299 W2
Buffalo Bills 1 13 0 .071 1–7 1–10 184 394 L3

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

AFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Cleveland Browns 9 5 0 .643 5–1 7–4 285 273 W5
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 8 0 .429 4–2 5–6 246 292 L1
Houston Oilers 4 9 1 .308 2–4 4–7 251 330 W3
Cincinnati Bengals 4 10 0 .286 1–5 3–8 284 265 L3

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

AFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Kansas City Chiefs 10 3 1 .769 4–1–1 8–2–1 302 208 W3
Oakland Raiders 8 4 2 .667 4–1–1 7–3–1 344 278 W1
San Diego Chargers 6 8 0 .429 2–4 4–7 311 341 L1
Denver Broncos 4 9 1 .308 1–5 3–6–1 203 275 L2

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

NFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Dallas Cowboys 11 3 0 .786 7–1 8–3 406 222 W7
Washington Redskins 9 4 1 .692 6–1–1 8–2–1 276 190 L1
Philadelphia Eagles 6 7 1 .462 4–3–1 5–5–1 221 302 W3
St. Louis Cardinals 4 9 1 .308 1–7 2–8–1 231 279 L2
New York Giants 4 10 0 .286 1–7 3–8 228 362 L5

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

NFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Minnesota Vikings 11 3 0 .786 5–1 9–2 245 139 W2
Detroit Lions 7 6 1 .538 2–3–1 3–6–1 341 286 L2
Chicago Bears 6 8 0 .429 2–4 5–6 185 276 L5
Green Bay Packers 4 8 2 .333 2–3–1 2–7–2 274 298 L1

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

NFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
San Francisco 49ers 9 5 0 .643 2–4 7–4 300 216 W2
Los Angeles Rams 8 5 1 .615 4–1–1 7–3–1 313 260 W1
Atlanta Falcons 7 6 1 .538 3–2–1 4–6–1 274 277 W1
New Orleans Saints 4 8 2 .333 2–4 4–7 266 347 L3

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

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 Player Alan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Coach of the Year George Allen, Washington
Defensive Player of the Year Alan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the Year John Brockington, Running back, Green Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year Isiah 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)
Bennie McRae

Benjamin Prince "Bennie" McRae (December 8, 1939 - November 22, 2012) was an American football player. A native of Newport News, Virginia, McRae played college football as a halfback at the University of Michigan from 1959 to 1961 and professional football, principally as a cornerback, for 10 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Chicago Bears (1962-1970) and New York Giants (1971).

Chuck Winfrey

Chuck Winfrey is a former linebacker in the National Football League. Winfrey played the 1971 NFL season with the Minnesota Vikings. The following season, he was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dave Roller

David Euell Roller (born October 28, 1949) is a former American football defensive tackle in the National Football League (NFL). Prior to his professional career, Roller played college football for the University of Kentucky, where he received multiple commendations for his athletic accomplishments, including induction into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. Roller was drafted by the New York Giants in the 13th round of the 1971 NFL Draft as the 330th overall pick. He played for the Giants for one season, before a brief stint playing in the World Football League. He returned to the NFL in 1975 with the Green Bay Packers, where he would go on to play for four seasons. He left Green Bay in 1979 to play for the Minnesota Vikings for two seasons before retiring from professional football. Altogether, Roller played in the NFL for seven seasons and appeared in 92 games.

Jerry DePoyster

Jerry Dean DePoyster (born July 6, 1946, in Omaha, Nebraska) is a former American football placekicker and punter who also played in the National Football League.

Jerry Williams (American football)

Jerry Ralph Williams (November 1, 1923 – December 31, 1998) was an American football player and coach who served as the head coach of two Canadian Football League (CFL) teams, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL).

Leeman Bennett

Leeman Bennett (born June 20, 1938) is a former American football coach who served at both the collegiate and professional levels, but is most prominently remembered as head coach of the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Len Dawson

Leonard Ray Dawson (born June 20, 1935) is a former American football quarterback and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played 19 seasons for three professional teams, the last 14 seasons with the Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, and played college football at Purdue University.

Dawson led the Texans/Chiefs to three American Football League Championships (1962, 1966, 1969), and a victory in Super Bowl IV over the Minnesota Vikings, for which he won the game's MVP award. Dawson retired from professional football after the 1975 season, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He is former sports director at KMBC-TV in Kansas City and former color analyst for the Chiefs Radio Network. Dawson owned the Chiefs single season passing touchdown record which he set in 1964 with 30 touchdowns. The record stood until November 11, 2018 when Patrick Mahomes threw his 31st touchdown of the 2018 season.

List of Monday Night Football results (1970–89)

Beginning in the 1970 NFL season, the National Football League began scheduling a weekly regular season game on Monday night before a national television audience. From 1970 to 2005, the ABC television network carried these games, with the ESPN cable television network taking over beginning in September 2006. Listed below are games played from 1970 to 1989.

Paul Staroba

Paul Louis Staroba (born January 20, 1949) is a former American football wide receiver and punter. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1968 to 1970. During the 1970 season, he caught 35 passes for 519 yards and led the Big Ten Conference, and finished fourth in the country, with a 41.5 yard punting average. He also played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Cleveland Browns in 1972 and the Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers in 1973.

Randy Winkler

Randy Winkler is a former offensive tackle in the National Football League. He was drafted in the twelfth round of the 1966 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and later played with the team during the 1967 NFL season. The following season, he would play with the Atlanta Falcons. After two years away from the NFL, he played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1971 NFL season.

Ron Johnson (running back)

Ronald Adolphis Johnson (October 17, 1947 – November 10, 2018) was an American football running back.

Johnson played college football at the halfback position for the University of Michigan from 1966 to 1968. He set a Michigan school record in 1967 by rushing for 270 yards in a game. In 1968, he became the first African-American to serve as the captain of a Michigan football team. He set an NCAA record by rushing for 347 yards in a game and set Big Ten Conference records with 92 points scored and 1,017 rushing yards in seven conference games. He also set Michigan records with 2,524 career rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns in a season, and 139.1 rushing yards per game in 1968.

He played seven seasons in the National Football League (NFL) from 1969 to 1975 and became the first player in New York Giants history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, accomplishing the feat in both 1970 and 1972. He also led the NFL in rushing attempts in both 1970 and 1972. Johnson retired as a player in 1976, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992, and became chairman of the National Football Foundation in 2006. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008, and died in 2018. He is the brother of 1970 American League batting champion Alex Johnson.

Tim Webster (American football)

Tim Webster is a former placekicker in the National Football League. He played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1971 NFL season.

Willie Ellison

William Henry Ellison (born November 1, 1945) is a former American football running back who played eight seasons in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs. Sporting #33, he spent his first four seasons in the NFL as backup behind Larry Smith, before taking over as starting tailback in 1971. On December 5, 1971 against the New Orleans Saints he rushed 26 times for 247 yards thus breaking Cookie Gilchrist's pro football record of 243 yards. The NFL record at the time was held by Jim Brown, who ran 237 against the Los Angeles Rams in 1957. Ellison was subsequently named NFL Offensive Player of the Week by the Associated Press. Ellison went on to the Pro Bowl after the 1971 NFL season. He played college football at Texas Southern. Now he lives in Pearland, Tx working as a substitute teacher in the Pearland ISD area.

1971 NFL season
Early era
(1920–1969)
Modern era
(1970–present)

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