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1971 NFL season

Updated: 2017-06-15T12:33Z
1971 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 19 – December 19, 1971
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
The Cowboys playing against the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

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. The Pro Bowl took place on January 23, 1972 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The AFC beat the NFC 26-13.

Stadium changes

Before the season, the Boston Patriots changed their name to New England Patriots after they moved to their new home field, Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The Chicago Bears moved their home games to Soldier Field. The Dallas Cowboys moved during the season to Texas Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles moved their games to Veterans Stadium. The San Francisco 49ers moved into Candlestick Park.

11 teams played their home games on artificial turf in 1971. This was up from 7 teams in the NFL in 1970. The teams were: Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Francisco.

Major rule change

  • 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.
  • Missed field goal attempts can be run back.

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, common opponents records, and 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

WeekEasternCentralWesternWild Card
13 teams1–0–02 teams1–0–02 teams1–0–03 teams1–0–0
22 teams2–0–0Chicago2–0–0Atlanta1–0–12 teams2–0–0
3Washington3–0–04 teams2–1–0San Francisco2–1–05 teams2–1–0
4Washington4–0–0Chicago*3–1–0Los Angeles2–1–13 teams3–1–0
5Washington5–0–0Minnesota*4–1–0Los Angeles3–1–1Detroit4–1–0
6Washington5–1–0Minnesota5–1–0Los Angeles4–1–14 teams4–2–0
7Washington6–1–0Minnesota6–1–0San Francisco5–2–0Chicago5–2–0
8Washington6–1–1Minnesota6–2–0San Francisco6–2–0Detroit5–2–1
9Washington6–2–1Minnesota7–2–0San Francisco6–3–0Chicago*6–3–0
10Dallas7–3–0Minnesota8–2–0Los Angeles6–3–1Washington*6–3–1
11Dallas8–3–0Minnesota9–2–0San Francisco7–4–0Washington*7–3–1
12Dallas9–3–0Minnesota9–3–0Los Angeles7–4–1Washington8–3–1
13Dallas10–3–0Minnesota10–3–0San Francisco8–5–0Washington9–3–1
14Dallas11–3–0Minnesota11–3–0San Francisco9–5–0Washington9–4–1

American Football Conference

WeekEasternCentralWesternWild Card
12 teams1–0–02 teams1–0–0San Diego1–0–02 teams1–0–0
2Miami1–0–1Cleveland2–0–0Oakland*1–1–06 teams1–1–0
3Baltimore2–1–0Pittsburgh*2–1–0Oakland*2–1–02 teams2–1–0
4Baltimore3–1–0Cleveland3–1–0Oakland*3–1–0Kansas City3–1–0
5Baltimore4–1–0Cleveland4–1–0Oakland*4–1–0Kansas City4–1–0
6Miami4–1–1Cleveland4–2–0Oakland*5–1–0Kansas City5–1–0
7Miami5–1–1Cleveland4–3–0Oakland*5–1–1Kansas City5–1–1
10Miami8–1–1Cleveland*5–5–0Oakland7–1–2Kansas City7–2–1
12Miami9–2–1Cleveland7–5–0Kansas City8–3–1Baltimore9–3–0
13Baltimore10–3–0Cleveland8–5–0Kansas City9–3–1Miami9–3–1
14Miami10–3–1Cleveland9–5–0Kansas City10–3–1Baltimore10–4–0

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

 x  – clinched wild card berth,  y  – clinched division title

Note: Prior to 1972, the NFL did not include tie games when calculating a team's winning percentage in the official standings

AFC East
y-Miami Dolphins1031.769315174
x-Baltimore Colts1040.714313140
New England Patriots680.429238325
New York Jets680.429212299
Buffalo Bills1130.071184394
AFC Central
y-Cleveland Browns950.643285273
Pittsburgh Steelers680.429246292
Houston Oilers491.308251330
Cincinnati Bengals4100.286284265
AFC West
y-Kansas City Chiefs1031.769302208
Oakland Raiders842.667344278
San Diego Chargers680.429311341
Denver Broncos491.308203275
NFC East
y-Dallas Cowboys1130.786406222
x-Washington Redskins941.692276190
Philadelphia Eagles671.462221302
St. Louis Cardinals491.308231279
New York Giants4100.286228362
NFC Central
y-Minnesota Vikings1130.786245139
Detroit Lions761.538341286
Chicago Bears680.429185276
Green Bay Packers482.333274298
NFC West
y-San Francisco 49ers950.643300216
Los Angeles Rams851.615313260
Atlanta Falcons761.538274277
New Orleans Saints482.333266347


  • New England finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better point differential in head to head games, 13 points.


Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.
Divisional PlayoffsConf. Championship GamesSuper Bowl VI
December 26 – Candlestick Park    
 Washington 20
January 2 – Texas Stadium
 San Francisco 24 
 San Francisco 3
December 25 – Metropolitan Stadium
   Dallas 14 
 Dallas 20
January 16 – Tulane Stadium
 Minnesota 12 
 Dallas 24
December 26 – Cleveland Stadium  
  Miami 3
 Baltimore 20
January 2 – Miami Orange Bowl
 Cleveland 3 
 Baltimore 0
December 25 – Municipal Stadium
   Miami 21 
 Miami (2OT) 27
 Kansas City 24 


Most Valuable PlayerAlan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Coach of the YearGeorge Allen, Washington
Defensive Player of the YearAlan Page, Defensive tackle, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the YearJohn Brockington, Running back, Green Bay
Defensive Rookie of the YearIsiah Robertson, Linebacker, Los Angeles


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