1973 NFL season

The 1973 NFL season was the 54th regular season of the National Football League. The season was highlighted by O.J. Simpson becoming the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in one season.

The season ended with Super Bowl VIII when the Miami Dolphins repeated as league champions by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24–7 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Pro Bowl took place on January 20, 1974, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri; the AFC beat the NFC 15–13.

1973 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 16 – December 16, 1973
Start dateDecember 22, 1973
AFC ChampionsMiami Dolphins
NFC ChampionsMinnesota Vikings
Super Bowl VIII
DateJanuary 13, 1974
SiteRice Stadium, Houston, Texas
ChampionsMiami Dolphins
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 20, 1974
SiteArrowhead Stadium,
Kansas City, Missouri
1986 Jeno's Pizza - 29 - O.J. Simpson
Simpson pictured in the game where he became the first running back to gain over 2,000 yards in a season on Dec. 16, 1973.

Major rule changes

Jersey numbering system

  • A jersey numbering system is adopted (players who played in 1972 are grandfathered):
    • 1–19: Quarterbacks and specialists
    • 20–49: Running backs and defensive backs
    • 50–59: Centers and linebackers
    • 60–79: Defensive linemen and offensive linemen other than centers
    • 80–89: Wide receivers and tight ends
    • Numbers 0, 00, and 90 to 99 are no longer allowed to be issued, even though these numbers were rarely issued anyway (two players wearing 00 at the time, Jim Otto and Ken Burrough, were grandfathered). Numbers 90 to 99 would be allowed again for defensive linemen from 1979 and for linebackers from 1984 in addition to the above-mentioned numbers.

Other new rules

  • Defensive players cannot jump or stand on a teammate while trying to block a kick.
  • The clock is to start at the snap following a change of possession. Previously, the clock would start on a change of possession when the ball was spotted ready for play by the referee, except if the ball went out of bounds on the change of possession, or the change of possession occurred on the final play of the first or third quarters; in those cases, the clock started on the snap.
  • If there is a foul by the offensive team, and it is followed by a change of possession, the period can be extended by one play by the other team.
  • If the receiving team commits a foul after the ball is kicked, possession will be presumed to have changed; the receiving team keeps the ball.

Television Blackout rules

Up until the 1972 season, all NFL games (including championship games and Super Bowls) were blacked-out on television in each team's home city. In 1973, the league changed their policy to black out games in the team's home city only if tickets to the game had not sold out. This expanded the league's television presence in teams' home cities on gameday.

The policy was put into effect when, in 1972, the Washington Redskins made the playoffs for only the second time in 27 seasons. Because all home games were blacked-out, politicians — including devout football fan President Richard Nixon — were not able to watch their home team win. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle refused to lift the blackout, despite a plea from United States Attorney General Richard Kleindienst. Kleindienst was to suggest that the United States Congress re-evaluate the NFL's antitrust exemption. Rozelle agreed to lift the blackout for Super Bowl VII on an "experimental basis". But Congress intervened before the 1973 season anyway, passing Public Law 93-107, which eliminated the blackout of games in the home market so long as the game was sold out by 72 hours before game time.[1]

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, records against common opponents, and records in conference play.

National Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 4 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 5 teams 1–0–0
2 Dallas, St. Louis (tie) 2–0–0 Minnesota 2–0–0 Los Angeles 2–0–0 Dallas, St. Louis (tie) 2–0–0
3 Dallas 3–0–0 Minnesota 3–0–0 Los Angeles 3–0–0 St. Louis 2–1–0
4 Washington* 3–1–0 Minnesota 4–0–0 Los Angeles 4–0–0 Dallas 3–1–0
5 Washington 4–1–0 Minnesota 5–0–0 Los Angeles 5–0–0 Dallas 3–2–0
6 Washington 5–1–0 Minnesota 6–0–0 Los Angeles 6–0–0 Dallas 4–2–0
7 Washington 5–2–0 Minnesota 7–0–0 Los Angeles 6–1–0 Dallas* 4–3–0
8 Washington* 5–3–0 Minnesota 8–0–0 Los Angeles 6–2–0 Atlanta* 5–3–0
9 Washington* 6–3–0 Minnesota 9–0–0 Los Angeles 7–2–0 Atlanta* 6–3–0
10 Washington* 7–3–0 Minnesota 9–1–0 Los Angeles 8–2–0 Atlanta* 7–3–0
11 Washington 8–3–0 Minnesota 10–1–0 Los Angeles 9–2–0 Atlanta 8–3–0
12 Washington* 9–3–0 Minnesota 10–2–0 Los Angeles 10–2–0 Atlanta* 8–4–0
13 Dallas* 9–4–0 Minnesota 11–2–0 Los Angeles 11–2–0 Washington 9–4–0
14 Dallas 10–4–0 Minnesota 12–2–0 Los Angeles 12–2–0 Washington 10–4–0
  • For the last time until 1997, the last two unbeaten teams in the league met in Week 7,[2] with the Vikings tipping the Rams 10–9.

American Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 Buffalo, Miami (tie) 1–0–0 Cleveland, Pittsburgh (tie) 1–0–0 Denver 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0
2 NY Jets 1–1–0 Pittsburgh 2–0–0 4 teams 1–1–0 7 teams 1–1–0
3 Buffalo 2–1–0 Pittsburgh 3–0–0 Kansas City 2–1–0 3 teams 2–1–0
4 Buffalo, Miami (tie) 3–1–0 Pittsburgh 4–0–0 Kansas City 3–1–0 Buffalo, Miami (tie) 3–1–0
5 Buffalo, Miami (tie) 4–1–0 Pittsburgh 4–1–0 Kansas City 3–1–1 Buffalo, Miami (tie) 4–1–0
6 Miami 5–1–0 Pittsburgh 5–1–0 Kansas City 3–2–1 Cincinnati* 4–2–0
7 Miami 6–1–0 Pittsburgh 6–1–0 Oakland 4–2–1 Buffalo 5–2–0
8 Miami 7–1–0 Pittsburgh 7–1–0 Oakland 5–2–1 Buffalo 5–3–0
9 Miami 8–1–0 Pittsburgh 8–1–0 Oakland* 5–3–1 Kansas City* 5–3–1
10 Miami 9–1–0 Pittsburgh 8–2–0 Kansas City 6–3–1 Cleveland 6–3–1
11 Miami 10–1–0 Pittsburgh 8–3–0 Denver 6–3–2 Cleveland 7–3–1
12 Miami 11–1–0 Cincinnati* 8–4–0 Oakland 7–4–1 Pittsburgh 8–4–0
13 Miami 11–2–0 Cincinnati* 9–4–0 Oakland 8–3–1 Pittsburgh 9–4–0
14 Miami 12–2–0 Cincinnati* 10–4–0 Oakland 9–4–1 Pittsburgh 10–4–0

Final standings

AFC East
Miami Dolphins 12 2 0 .857 7–1 9–2 343 150 W1
Buffalo Bills 9 5 0 .643 6–2 7–4 259 230 W4
New England Patriots 5 9 0 .357 1–7 3–8 258 300 L2
New York Jets 4 10 0 .286 4–4 4–7 240 306 L2
Baltimore Colts 4 10 0 .286 2–6 2–9 226 341 W2
AFC Central
Cincinnati Bengals 10 4 0 .714 4–2 8–3 286 231 W6
Pittsburgh Steelers 10 4 0 .714 4–2 7–4 347 210 W2
Cleveland Browns 7 5 2 .571 4–2 6–3–2 234 255 L2
Houston Oilers 1 13 0 .071 0–6 1–10 199 447 L6
AFC West
Oakland Raiders 9 4 1 .679 4–1–1 7–3–1 292 175 W4
Kansas City Chiefs 7 5 2 .571 4–2 6–4–1 231 192 W1
Denver Broncos 7 5 2 .571 3–2–1 7–2–1 354 296 L1
San Diego Chargers 2 11 1 .179 0–6 1–9–1 188 386 L4
NFC East
Dallas Cowboys 10 4 0 .714 6–2 8–3 382 203 W3
Washington Redskins 10 4 0 .714 6–2 8–3 325 198 W1
Philadelphia Eagles 5 8 1 .393 3–4–1 3–7–1 310 393 L1
St. Louis Cardinals 4 9 1 .321 3–5 4–7 286 365 L1
New York Giants 2 11 1 .179 1–6–1 1–9–1 226 362 L4
NFC Central
Minnesota Vikings 12 2 0 .857 6–0 10–1 296 168 W2
Detroit Lions 6 7 1 .464 3–2–1 6–4–1 271 247 L1
Green Bay Packers 5 7 2 .429 1–4–1 4–6–1 202 259 W1
Chicago Bears 3 11 0 .214 1–5 1–9 195 334 L6
NFC West
Los Angeles Rams 12 2 0 .857 5–1 9–2 388 178 W6
Atlanta Falcons 9 5 0 .643 4–2 7–4 318 224 W1
San Francisco 49ers 5 9 0 .357 2–4 4–7 262 319 L2
New Orleans Saints 5 9 0 .357 1–5 4–7 163 312 L1


  • N.Y. Jets finished ahead of Baltimore in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on better conference record (8–3 to Steelers' 7–4).
  • Kansas City finished ahead of Denver in the AFC West based on better division record (4–2 to Broncos' 3–2–1).
  • Dallas finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better point differential in head-to-head games (13 points).
  • San Francisco finished ahead of New Orleans in the NFC West based on better division record (2–4 to Saints' 1–5).


Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation. Had the 1973 playoffs been seeded, the AFC divisional matchups would have been #3 Oakland at #2 Cincinnati and #4 wild card Pittsburgh at #1 Miami; the NFC matchups would not have changed, although #3 Dallas would have had to travel to #2 Los Angeles, and #1 Minnesota would have had home field for the NFC championship game.
Divisional PlayoffsConf. Championship GamesSuper Bowl VIII
December 22 – Metropolitan Stadium
December 30 – Texas Stadium
December 23 – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Los Angeles16
January 13 – Rice Stadium
December 22 – Oakland Coliseum
December 30 – Miami Orange Bowl
December 23 – Miami Orange Bowl


Most Valuable Player O.J. Simpson, Running Back, Buffalo
Coach of the Year Chuck Knox, Los Angeles
Offensive Player of the Year O.J. Simpson, Running Back, Buffalo
Defensive Player of the Year Dick Anderson, Safety, Miami
Offensive Rookie of the Year Chuck Foreman, Running Back, Minnesota
Defensive Rookie of the Year Wally Chambers, Defensive Tackle, Chicago
Man of the Year Len Dawson, Quarterback, Kansas City
Comeback Player of the Year Roman Gabriel, Quarterback, Eagles
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Larry Csonka, Running Back, Miami


The 1973 NFL Draft was held from January 30 to 31, 1973 at New York City's Americana Hotel. With the first pick, the Houston Oilers selected defensive end John Matuszak from the University of Tampa.

Coaching changes




  1. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com blog: Rubin, Rozelle, the Redskins, and Super Bowl Blackouts
  2. ^ Last Undefeated NFL Teams in Each Season
  • 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)
1973 Buffalo Bills season

The 1973 Buffalo Bills season was the 14th season for the team and their fourth season in the National Football League (NFL). The Bills finished in second place in the AFC East division and finished the 1973 NFL season with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses, the team's first winning record since 1966.Head coach Lou Saban began the second season of his second tenure with the Bills. Saban had previously led the team to the 1964 and 1965 AFL championships. It was the first season that the team played in Rich Stadium (now "New Era Field") after thirteen years playing at War Memorial Stadium.

The Bills were returning from 1–13 and 4–9–1 records in 1971 and 1972, respectively. Incumbent starting quarterback Dennis Shaw found himself in a battle with rookie Joe Ferguson for the starting job.

The season was defined by O.J. Simpson. The fifth-year running back became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Behind Simpson's record-setting season, the Bills set an NFL record for most team rushing yards in a 14-game season, with 3,088 and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, higher than every Super Bowl championship team in all of league history. Simpson was returning from his best professional season, in which he earned his first All-Pro recognition and first rushing title. In addition to establishing a then-record for single-season rushing yardage, with 2,003, Simpson established the single-season record for rushing yards gained per game (143.1 yards per game on 23.7 rushes per game, an average of six yards per carry), which still stands. The explosive offense centered on O.J. Simpson was nicknamed the "Electric Company" for its ability to turn on "The Juice" (i.e. "O.J." Simpson)

Bo Rather

David Elmer "Bo" Rather (born October 7, 1950) was an American football player. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1970 to 1972 and professional football as a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for the Miami Dolphins in 1973 and 1978 and for the Chicago Bears from 1974 to 1978. In six years of playing in the NFL, Rather appeared in 64 games and had 92 receptions for 1,467 yards and seven touchdowns.

Charley Winner

Charley Winner (born July 2, 1924) is a former a football coach whose professional and personal life was closely intertwined with that of Weeb Ewbank, another coach.

Winner was born in Somerville, New Jersey and, during World War II, flew 17 missions in a B-17 Flying Fortress plane, spending six weeks in a German prisoner of war camp. Upon his release from the service he played running back at Washington University in St. Louis, where Ewbank was head coach. After Ewbank moved on to coach for the Cleveland Browns, Winner took an assistant position with the nearby Case Tech Rough Riders, present-day Case Western Reserve University, while also serving as a scout for the Cleveland Browns. In 1950, he married Ewbank's daughter. When Ewbank was hired as head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1954, Winner went along and helped the team capture NFL titles in both 1958 and 1959. At the conclusion of the 1962 NFL season, Ewbank was dismissed, but Winner stayed under new coach Don Shula from 1963 to 1965.

On February 10, 1966, Winner was hired as head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. In five seasons at the helm, Winner managed a 35-30-5 record, but after failing to reach the postseason, was fired on January 6, 1971. The Cardinals posted winning records in three of Winner's five seasons with the Cardinals, but fell short of the playoffs each time. In 1966 the Cardinals started out 5-0 but lost four of their last five games to finish at 8-5-1 and in fourth place in the NFL East. In 1968 St. Louis finished one-half game behind the Cleveland Browns (9-4-1 to 10-4) in the NFL Century Division despite sweeping both regular-season meetings with the Browns. In 1970 St. Louis rolled to an 8-2-1 record at the end of November, including three consecutive shutouts over the Houston Oilers (44-0), Boston Patriots (31-0) and Dallas Cowboys (38-0 on Monday Night Football in Dallas). With the NFC East championship in sight, however, the Cardinals stumbled in December, losing to the Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Washington Redskins to finish at 8-5-1 and in third place in the division behind Dallas and the Giants.

Winner was soon hired by George Allen of the Washington Redskins. Winner worked two years for the Redskins, helping them reach the NFL playoffs during each season and their first Super Bowl berth ever in 1972. On February 1, 1973 he rejoined Ewbank as an assistant with the Jets and was also designated his successor following the end of the 1973 NFL season. Winner struggled to achieve success with the Jets, finishing 7-7 in 1974, needing to win the season's final six games to reach the .500 mark. The following year saw the team win only two of the first nine games, a decline that resulted in his dismissal on November 19, three days after a 52-19 loss to the Colts.

Two months later, Winner was hired as an assistant with the Cincinnati Bengals, spending the next four years with the team before once again being fired following the 1979 NFL season. Renewing acquaintances with Don Shula in 1981, Winner was hired to serve as player personnel director for the Miami Dolphins. He spent two years in that role before shifting to pro personnel, performing many of the same duties as a general manager, especially negotiating player contracts. On June 1, 1992, he announced his retirement.

Dennis Cambal

Dennis Hayden Cambal (born January 27, 1949) is a retired professional American football player for the National Football League's New York Jets. He played the running back position and appeared in eight games during the 1973 NFL season. Cambal played college football at William & Mary.

Don Nottingham

Don Nottingham (born June 26, 1949) is a former American football running back who played for the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. He was affectionately referred to as 'The Human Bowling Ball' because of his short but robust frame.

Ed Biles

Edward G. Biles (born October 18, 1931) is a former American football coach whose most prominent position was as head coach of the National Football League's Houston Oilers from 1981 to 1983.A native of Reading, Ohio, Biles was an outstanding high school athlete, earning 12 letters and helping the 1946 Reading High School team capture the state baseball championship. He then attended Miami University and was on the school's football team until suffering a career-ending injury. In his remaining time as an undergraduate, Biles served as an assistant with the squad, then officially began his coaching tenure at the high school level.

Eric Dickerson

Eric Demetri Dickerson (born September 2, 1960) is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons. Dickerson played college football for the SMU Mustangs of Southern Methodist University and was recognized as an All-American. He was selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft and played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, and Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. During his NFL career, he rushed for over 13,000 yards. He holds the NFL's single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards, set in 1984. Dickerson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. He wore prescription goggles throughout his career due to myopia.

Harold Jackson (American football)

Harold Leon Jackson (born January 6, 1946) is a former American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League from 1968 through 1983. Jackson was drafted in the 12th round (323 overall) of the 1968 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. In 2014, Jackson was hired to serve as head coach at his alma mater Jackson State. He was fired five games into the 2015 season.

Kent Branstetter

Kent Branstetter is a former tackle in the National Football League.

Len Garrett

Len Garrett is a former tight end in the National Football League.

Leon Gray

Leon Gray (November 15, 1951 – November 11, 2001) was an American football tackle in the National Football League for the New England Patriots, Houston Oilers, and the New Orleans Saints. Gray played college football at Jackson State University.

Levi Johnson

Levi Johnson (born October 30, 1950 in Corpus Christi, Texas) was a cornerback who played five seasons for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League. He had 21 interceptions in less than five years as an NFL player, returning three for touchdowns.Johnson led the Lions with five interceptions during the 1973 NFL season and the 1974 NFL season, returning two for touchdowns in 1974, including one on Thanksgiving Day against the Denver Broncos.He added another touchdown during the 1975 NFL season against the Green Bay Packers. During the season-opener, he blocked two punts and fell on one in the end zone for the score. Teammate Larry Ball picked up Johnson's other blocked punt and returned it 34 yards for another touchdown.Johnson had a career-high six interceptions in 1976, and was second on the team that season, one behind James Hunter. He also scored the final touchdown of his career, picking off Jim Zorn of the expansion Seattle Seahawks and returning it 70 yards for the score.Johnson had two interceptions in the 1977 NFL season's third game, against the Philadelphia Eagles, but sustained a knee injury and never played again in the NFL.

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.

Mike Carter (American football)

Michael Norman Carter is a former wide receiver in the National Football League.

Randy Logan

Randolph "Randy" Logan (born May 1, 1951) is a former American football player. He played 11 seasons as a free safety in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1973 to 1983. He was a second-team All-NFL player in 1980, and his streak of 159 consecutive games is the second longest in Eagles history. Logan played college football at the University of Michigan from 1970 to 1972 where he was selected as a consensus first-team defensive back on the 1972 College Football All-America Team.

Reggie McKenzie (guard)

Reginald McKenzie (born July 27, 1950) is a former American football player.

McKenzie played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) as the left guard for the Buffalo Bills from 1972 to 1982. Selected as a first-team All-NFL player in 1973 and second team in 1974, McKenzie was a key player on the Bills' offensive line that became known as the Electric Company that led the way for O.J. Simpson to become the NFL's first 2,000-yard rusher during the 1973 NFL season.

McKenzie also played college football at the University of Michigan from 1969 to 1971 and was a consensus All-American in 1971. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. McKenzie concluded his playing career with the Seattle Seahawks during the 1983 and 1984 NFL seasons. In his 13-year NFL career, McKenzie appeared in 171 games, all but two of those as a starter.

Ron Holliday

Ron Holliday (born February 12, 1948) is a former NFL football player with the San Diego Chargers during the 1970s, as a wide receiver. He played 11 games with the Chargers during the 1973 NFL season.

Tom Keating (American football)

Thomas Arthur Keating (September 2, 1942 – August 31, 2012) was an American football player who played at the defensive tackle position. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1961 to 1963. He also played 12 seasons of professional football in the American and National Football Leagues from 1964 to 1975. He was an AFL All-Star in 1966 and 1967, a key to the 1967 Oakland Raiders' defensive line that led the team to a 13-1 record and the 1967 AFL Championship, and was considered "the premier tackle in the old American Football League". He was known for his use of a distinctive four-point stance in which he lined up with both hands on the ground.

Wally Chambers

Wallace Hashim Chambers (born May 15, 1951) is a former American football defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears and defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1970s. He was selected with the eighth overall pick by the Bears in the 1973 NFL Draft out of Eastern Kentucky University, and played previous to that for Mount Clemens High School, where he graduated in 1969.

1973 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.