The 1978 NFL season was the 59th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded the regular season from a 14-game schedule to 16. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 8 teams to 10 teams by adding another wild card from each conference. The wild card teams played each other, with the winner advancing to the playoff round of eight teams.
The average salary for a player in 1978 was under $62,600, up 13.2 percent over the previous year. Fran Tarkenton was the highest-paid quarterback at $360,000 and running back O. J. Simpson was the highest paid player, at just under $733,400.
|1978 National Football League season|
|Duration||September 2 – December 18, 1978|
|Start date||December 24, 1978|
|AFC Champions||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC Champions||Dallas Cowboys|
|Super Bowl XIII|
|Date||January 21, 1979|
|Site||Orange Bowl, Miami|
|Date||January 29, 1979|
|Site||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum|
The league passed major rule changes to encourage offensive scoring. In 1977 – the last year of the so-called "Dead Ball Era" – teams scored an average of 17.2 points per game, the lowest total since 1942.
With the start of a 16-game season also marked the start of a new scheduling format that saw a division in one conference play a division in another conference, rotating every season and repeating the process every three years. A change was also made to non-divisional opponents in a team’s own conference, which became based on divisional positions from the previous season. Previously, teams played rotating groups of opponents in the other conference and in other divisions of their own conference, although some opponents were cut in 1976 and 1977 to allow for games against the Seahawks and Buccaneers. This format remains in effect, though it has been slightly modified over the years, most recently with the addition of two more divisions in 2002.
The interconference matchups for 1978 were as follows:
Starting in 1978, and continuing through 1989 (except 1982), ten teams qualified for the playoffs: the winners of each of the divisions, and two wild-card teams in each conference. The two wild cards would meet for the right to face whichever of the three division winners had the best overall record (or, if the winner of the wild-card playoff was from the same division as that team, the division winner with the second best overall record). The tiebreaker rules were based on head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents' records, and conference play.
|1||3 teams||1–0||Chi,GB||1–0||3 teams||1–0|
|Dec. 31 – Foxboro Stadium|
|AFC Wild Card Game||AFC Championship|
|Dec. 24 – Miami Orange Bowl||Jan. 7 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|Dec. 30 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|4||Miami||9||1||Pittsburgh||34||Super Bowl XIII|
|Jan. 21 – Miami Orange Bowl|
|Dec. 30 – Texas Stadium|
|NFC Wild Card Game||NFC Championship||N2||Dallas||31|
|Dec. 24 – Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium||Jan. 7 – L.A. Memorial Coliseum|
|Dec. 31 – L.A. Memorial Coliseum|
|Points scored||Dallas Cowboys (384)|
|Total yards gained||New England Patriots (5,965)|
|Yards rushing||New England Patriots (3,165) current NFL record|
|Yards passing||San Diego Chargers (3,375)|
|Fewest points allowed||Pittsburgh Steelers (195)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Los Angeles Rams (3,893)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (1,721)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Buffalo Bills (1,960)|
|Scoring||Frank Corral, Los Angeles Rams (118 points)|
|Touchdowns||David Sims, Seattle Seahawks (15 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Frank Corral, Los Angeles Rams (29 FGs)|
|Rushing attempts||Walter Payton, Chicago Bears (333)|
|Rushing yards||Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers (1,450 yards)|
|Rushing touchdowns||David Sims, Seattle Seahawks (14 TDs)|
|Passes completed||Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings (345)|
|Pass attempts||Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings (572)|
|Passing yards||Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings (3,468 yards)|
|Passer rating||Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys (84.9 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers (28 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Rickey Young, Minnesota Vikings (88 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Wesley Walker, New York Jets (1,169 yards)|
|Receiving touchdowns||John Jefferson, San Diego Chargers (13 TDs)|
|Punt returns||Rick Upchurch, Denver Broncos (13.7 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Steve Odom, Green Bay Packers (27.1 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Thom Darden, Cleveland Browns (10)|
|Punting||Pat McInally, Cincinnati Bengals (43.1 average yards)|
|Most Valuable Player||Terry Bradshaw, Quarterback, Pittsburgh|
|Coach of the Year||Jack Patera, Seattle|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Earl Campbell, Running back, Houston Oilers|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Randy Gradishar, Linebacker, Denver|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Earl Campbell, Running back, Houston Oilers|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Al Baker, Defensive end, Detroit Lions|
|Man of the Year||Roger Staubach, Quarterback, Dallas|
|Comeback Player of the Year||John Riggins, Running Back, Washington|
Oakland finished ahead of Seattle and San Diego based on common opponents
The 1978 Seattle Seahawks season was the team's third season in the National Football League. The Seahawks won nine games, giving the franchise its first winning season. Coach Jack Patera won the National Football League Coach of the Year Award at seasons end.
Led by the third ranked offense, the team had some achievements. David Sims led the AFC in total touchdowns (TDs) – 15, including 14 rushing – and the team had 28 rushing TDs, number two in the league. Steve Largent made his first Pro Bowl with 71 receptions and 8 TDs. Quarterback Jim Zorn earned his sole All-Pro honor of his career by making the second team. The defense, however, lagged far behind ranking 26th.
Season highlights included defeating the Oakland Raiders twice and a last-second win over the Minnesota Vikings. Also a memorable game was a 20–17 loss in overtime to the Denver Broncos. Following an interception of a Jim Zorn pass off of a deflection, in overtime, the Broncos drove to the 1 yard line, but could not punch it in for a TD. Jim Turner missed an 18-yard field goal attempt, but the Seahawks were penalized for having 12 men on the field and the Broncos made the second kick. A 37–10 defeat in San Diego in week 15 eliminated the Seahawks from playoff contention, but a 23–19 win at home against Kansas City gave the team their first winning season.Dallas Reynolds
Dallas Reynolds (born April 23, 1984) is an American football center who is currently a free agent. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He played college football at BYU.Elmo Boyd
Elmo Boyd is a former wide receiver in the National Football League.Gerald Skinner (American football)
Gerald Skinner was a former player in the National Football League. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and later played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1978 NFL season.Immaculate Reception
The Immaculate Reception is one of the most famous plays in the history of American football. It occurred in the AFC divisional playoff game of the National Football League (NFL), between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1972. With the Steelers trailing in the last 30 seconds of the game, Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass attempt to John Fuqua. The ball either bounced off the helmet of Raiders safety Jack Tatum or off the hands of Fuqua, and, as it fell, Steelers fullback Franco Harris scooped it up and ran for a game-winning touchdown. The play has been a source of unresolved controversy and speculation ever since, as many people have contended that the ball only touched Fuqua or that it hit the ground before Harris caught it, either of which would have resulted in an incomplete pass by the rules at the time. Kevin Cook's The Last Headbangers cites the play as the beginning of a bitter rivalry between Pittsburgh and Oakland that fueled a historically brutal Raiders team during the NFL's most controversially physical era.NFL Films has chosen it as the greatest play of all time, as well as the most controversial. The play was a turning point for the Steelers, who reversed four decades of futility with their first playoff win ever, and went on to win four Super Bowls by the end of the 1970s.
The play's name is a pun derived from the Immaculate Conception, a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church. The phrase was first used on air by Myron Cope, a Pittsburgh sportscaster who was reporting on the Steelers' victory. A Pittsburgh woman, Sharon Levosky, called Cope before his 11 PM sports broadcast on the 23rd and suggested the name, which was coined by her friend Michael Ord. Cope used the term on television and the phrase stuck. The phrase was apparently meant to imply that the play was miraculous in nature (see Hail Mary pass for a similar term).John McVay
John Edward McVay (born January 5, 1931) is a former American football coach who rose through the coaching ranks from high school, through the college level, and to the National Football League (NFL). Born in Bellaire, Ohio, he played college football at Miami University, starring as a center.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.List of Indianapolis Colts starting quarterbacks
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL).
The club was officially founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1953, as the Baltimore Colts, replacing a previous team of that name that folded in 1950. After 31 seasons in Baltimore, Colts owner Robert Irsay moved the team to Indianapolis.
The Colts have had 33 starting quarterbacks (QB) in the history of their franchise. The Colts' past starting quarterbacks include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Johnny Unitas, as well as the Associated Press National Football League Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) winners Earl Morrall and Bert Jones. Unitas also won the MVP award three times in his career. The franchise's first starting quarterback was Fred Enke, who started 9 games in total for the Colts. The Colts' starting quarterback from 1998 to 2011 was 5-time MVP Peyton Manning. The Colts' current starting quarterback is Andrew Luck.List of Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterbacks
The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs are a member of the Western Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League (NFL). Originally named the Dallas Texans, the club was founded by Lamar Hunt in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League. In 1963, the team moved to Kansas City, Missouri and were renamed the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs have had 37 different starting quarterbacks in their franchise's history, 21 of which have started at least 10 games. Cotton Davidson was the team's first starting quarterback; he played all 14 games for the Texans in their inaugural 1960 season. Davidson played with the franchise from 1960 to 1962, and was traded in 1963 to the Oakland Raiders. Len Dawson signed with on July 2, 1962 and played for the franchise for 14 seasons. With Dawson as the team's starter, the Texans/Chiefs won three American Football League championships and appeared in two Super Bowl championship games. Dawson was named Most Valuable Player after the Chiefs' victory in Super Bowl IV and retired in 1975 with several franchise records. Three future Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees played for Kansas City: Dawson, Joe Montana, and Warren Moon. In the 2008 season, the Chiefs started three quarterbacks: Brodie Croyle, Damon Huard, and Tyler Thigpen. After Croyle and Huard were sidelined by injuries, Thigpen played in eleven games, winning one and losing ten. In 2009 and 2010, Matt Cassel started 15 of 16 games each season, while Croyle started the other 2 games.List of Miami Dolphins starting quarterbacks
The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football team based in the Miami metropolitan area. They are members of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Lawyer Joe Robbie and actor Danny Thomas were granted enfranchisement on August 15, 1965, committing their team as the ninth member of the American Football League (AFL).The Dolphins have had 32 different starting quarterbacks (QB) in their franchise history; only George Mira and Tyler Thigpen have started only one game for the Dolphins. The Dolphins' first starting quarterback was Dick Wood during the first inaugural season game in 1966, against the Oakland Raiders; Wood however was replaced a week later by rookie Rick Norton due to inconsistency. Notable Dolphin starting quarterbacks include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Bob Griese and Dan Marino, who together combined for 391 total starts and 239 wins all with the Dolphins. Other standouts include Earl Morrall, Don Strock, David Woodley, Jay Fiedler, Chad Pennington, and A. J. Feeley.
The Miami Dolphins entered the 2012 season with the franchise's 32nd different starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He is the first rookie to ever start on opening day for the Dolphins.List of Minnesota Vikings starting quarterbacks
The Minnesota Vikings are a professional American football team based in Minneapolis. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). A franchise was granted to Minneapolis businessmen Bill Boyer, H. P. Skoglund and Max Winter in 1959 as a member of the American Football League (AFL). The ownership forfeited their AFL membership in January 1960 and received the National Football League's 14th franchise on January 28, 1960 that started play in 1961.The Vikings have had 36 starting quarterbacks in the history of their franchise; they have never had more than three starting quarterbacks in one season. The Vikings' past starting quarterbacks include Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Fran Tarkenton, Brett Favre and Warren Moon. The team's first starting quarterback was George Shaw; he was replaced by Tarkenton in the franchise's first game, and the future Hall of Famer retained the starting role for most of the remainder of the season. As of the 2018 season, Minnesota's starting quarterback is Kirk Cousins.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.List of New England Patriots starting quarterbacks
The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in Foxborough, Massachusetts. They are a member of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC). The team began as the Boston Patriots in the American Football League, a league that merged with the National Football League before the start of the 1970 season. In 1971, the team relocated to Foxborough, where they then became the New England Patriots. Between 1971 and 2001, the Patriots played their home games at Foxboro Stadium. Since 2002, the Patriots have played their home games at Gillette Stadium (formerly CMGI Field), which was built adjacent to Foxboro Stadium (which was then demolished, and the site was turned into a parking lot for Gillette Stadium).
There have been 28 starting quarterbacks in the history of the franchise. The most starting quarterbacks the Patriots have had in one season is five quarterbacks, in 1987. Past quarterbacks for the Patriots include Patriots Hall of Fame inductees Babe Parilli, Steve Grogan, and Drew Bledsoe. Butch Songin became the first starting quarterback for the Patriots in 1960, when the franchise was first established. He was replaced by Tom Greene for the final two games of the season. Hall of Famer Parilli was the next starting quarterback for the Patriots, from 1961 to 1967. As of the 2017 season, New England's starting quarterback is Tom Brady, whom the Patriots selected in the 6th round (199th pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. He is the only quarterback to have led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory.Matt Reynolds (American football)
Matt Reynolds (born May 31, 1986) is a former American football offensive tackle. He attended Brigham Young University and went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft.Mike Morgan (running back)
Mike Morgan is a former running back in the National Football League. He played with the Chicago Bears during the 1978 NFL season.Neil Graff
Neil Graff is a former quarterback in the National Football League. He was drafted in the sixteenth round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and later played with the New England Patriots for two seasons. Later he was selected in the 1976 NFL Expansion Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and split that season as a member of the Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers, though he did not see any playing time in a regular season game with either team. He played the following year with the Steelers before being a member of the Green Bay Packers during the 1978 NFL season, but once again did not play during the regular season. One of two NFL quarterbacks born in the state of South Dakota, The other being HOF player, Norm Van Brocklin, born in Parade, SD. Graff is an inductee in the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.Rick Volk
Richard Robert Volk (born March 15, 1945) is a former American football player who played for the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, and Miami Dolphins. He retired with 38 career interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries, and totaled 574 yards on interception returns and 548 yards on punt returns.
Volk played college football for the University of Michigan from 1964 to 1966 and was a member of the 1964 team that won the Big Ten Conference championship and defeated Oregon State in the 1965 Rose Bowl. He played as a defensive back for Michigan's defensive unit and as a halfback and quarterback for the offensive unit. Volk was also selected by the Sporting News as a first-team All-American in 1967. In 1989, he was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor; Volk and Ron Johnson were the first two football players from the 1960s to be so honored.
Volk went on to a successful 12-year career as a safety in the National Football League. He played nine years with the Baltimore Colts from 1967 to 1975. He was a member of the Colts' teams that lost Super Bowl III to the New York Jets and won Super Bowl V against the Dallas Cowboys. Volk was selected as an NFL All-Pro four times (1968–1971) and played in three Pro Bowls (1967, 1969, 1971). After being released by the Colts in April 1976, Volk concluded his playing career with the New York Giants in 1976 and the Miami Dolphins from 1977 to 1978. In 1977, Volk was selected by Baltimore fans as a starter for the Colts' 25th anniversary team.Tom Mack
Thomas Lee Mack (born November 1, 1943) is a former American football player. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Mack played college football at the end and tackle positions for the University of Michigan from 1963 to 1965. He was a starter on the 1964 Michigan team that won the Big Ten Conference championship and defeated Oregon State in the 1965 Rose Bowl. He was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten player in 1965 and was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 2006.
Mack was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the second pick in the 1966 NFL Draft and played at the left guard position for the Rams for 13 seasons from 1966 to 1978. During his NFL career, Mack played in 11 Pro Bowls and appeared in 184 consecutive games, 162 as a starter, over 13 seasons.Tommy Prothro
James Thompson "Tommy" Prothro Jr. (July 20, 1920 – May 14, 1995) was an American football coach. He was the head coach at Oregon State University from 1955 to 1964 and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1965 to 1970, compiling a career college football record of 104–55–5 (.649).
Prothro moved to the professional ranks of the National Football League (NFL) in 1971 as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, a position he held for two seasons. He then coached the San Diego Chargers from 1974 to 1978, tallying a career NFL mark of 35–51–2 (.409). Prothro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1991.
1978 NFL season