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1998 NFL season

Updated: 2017-05-24T06:36Z
1998 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 6 – December 28, 1998
Start dateJanuary 2, 1999
AFC ChampionsDenver Broncos
NFC ChampionsAtlanta Falcons
Super Bowl XXXIII
DateJanuary 31, 1999
SitePro Player Stadium, Miami
ChampionsDenver Broncos
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 7, 1999
SiteAloha Stadium

The 1998 NFL season was the 79th regular season of the National Football League.

The season culminated with Super Bowl XXXIII, with the Denver Broncos defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-19 at Pro Player Stadium. The Broncos had won their first thirteen games, the best start since the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, and were tipped by some to have a realistic chance at winning all nineteen games.[1][2] The Minnesota Vikings became the first team since the 1968 Baltimore Colts to win all but one of their regular season games and not win the Super Bowl.

Football Outsiders noted "1998 was the last hurrah for the great quarterbacks who came into the league in the 1980s. The top four QBs [statistically] were all over 35: Vinny Testaverde, Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, and John Elway. Troy Aikman, age 32, was fifth. Dan Marino was 11th in his last good year."[3]

Major rule changes

  • The officiating position titles of back judge and field judge were swapped to become more consistent with college and high school football. The field judge is now 20 yards deep, positioned on the same sideline as the line judge, while the back judge is 25 yards from the line of scrimmage near the center of the field.
  • Tinted visors on players' facemasks are banned except for medical need.
  • A defensive player can no longer flinch before the snap in an attempt to draw movement from an offensive lineman.
  • A team will be penalized immediately for having 12 players in a huddle even if the 12th player goes straight to the sideline as the huddle breaks.
  • During the season, the rules regarding the coin toss were changed to where the visiting team must make the call before the coin is tossed instead of while it was in the air. On Thanksgiving, the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions went to overtime. During the coin toss, Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was heard calling "tails" but referee Phil Luckett claimed he said "heads". The coin landed on tails, and the Lions won the toss and eventually the game on a Jason Hanson field goal. It was later revealed that Bettis had changed his mind during the call and was originally going to call "heads" but stopped.[4] Thus, the rule change was adopted to prevent any further confusion.


Stadium changes

Uniform changes

Television changes

This was the first season that CBS held the rights to televise American Football Conference games, taking over the package from NBC. Meanwhile, this was the first time that ESPN broadcast all of the Sunday night games throughout the season (this was also the first season in which ESPN's coverage used the Monday Night Football themes, before reverting to using an original theme in 2001).

1998 Coaching Changes

Final regular season standings

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

Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green. No ties occurred this season.

AFC East
(2) New York Jets124.750416266
(4) Miami Dolphins106.625321265
(5) Buffalo Bills106.625400333
(6) New England Patriots97.563337329
Indianapolis Colts313.188310444
AFC Central
(3) Jacksonville Jaguars115.688392338
Tennessee Oilers88.500330320
Pittsburgh Steelers79.438263303
Baltimore Ravens610.375269335
Cincinnati Bengals313.188268452
AFC West
(1) Denver Broncos142.875501309
Oakland Raiders88.500288356
Seattle Seahawks88.500372310
Kansas City Chiefs79.438327363
San Diego Chargers511.313241342
NFC East
(3) Dallas Cowboys106.625381275
(6) Arizona Cardinals97.563325378
New York Giants88.500287309
Washington Redskins610.375319421
Philadelphia Eagles313.188161344
NFC Central
(1) Minnesota Vikings151.938556296
(5) Green Bay Packers115.688408319
Tampa Bay Buccaneers88.500314295
Detroit Lions511.313306378
Chicago Bears412.250276368
NFC West
(2) Atlanta Falcons142.875442289
(4) San Francisco 49ers124.750479328
New Orleans Saints610.375305359
Carolina Panthers412.250336413
St. Louis Rams412.250285378


  • Miami finished ahead of Buffalo in the AFC East based on better net division points (6 to Bills' 0).
  • Oakland finished ahead of Seattle in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Carolina finished ahead of St. Louis in the NFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).


Jan. 3 – Alltel Stadium Jan. 10 – Giants Stadium     
 6 New England 10
 3 Jacksonville 24
 3 Jacksonville 25  Jan. 17 – Mile High Stadium
 2 NY Jets 34 
Jan. 2 – Pro Player Stadium 2 NY Jets 10
Jan. 9 – Mile High Stadium
  1 Denver 23 
 5 Buffalo 17AFC Championship
 4 Miami 3
 4 Miami 24 Jan. 31 – Pro Player Stadium
 1 Denver 38 
Wild card playoffs 
Divisional playoffs
Jan. 3 – 3Com Park A1 Denver 34
Jan. 9 – Georgia Dome
  N2 Atlanta 19
 5 Green Bay 27Super Bowl XXXIII
 4 San Francisco 18
 4 San Francisco 30  Jan. 17 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
 2 Atlanta 20 
Jan. 2 – Texas Stadium 2 Atlanta 30*
Jan. 10 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
  1 Minnesota 27 
 6 Arizona 20NFC Championship
 6 Arizona 21
 3 Dallas 7 
 1 Minnesota 41 

* Indicates overtime victory

Statistical leaders


Points scoredMinnesota Vikings (556)
Total yards gainedSan Francisco 49ers (6,800)
Yards rushingSan Francisco 49ers (2,544)
Yards passingMinnesota Vikings (4,328)
Fewest points allowedMiami Dolphins (265)
Fewest total yards allowedSan Diego Chargers (4,208)
Fewest rushing yards allowedSan Diego Chargers (1,140)
Fewest passing yards allowedPhiladelphia Eagles (2,720)


ScoringGary Anderson, Minnesota (164 points)
TouchdownsTerrell Davis, Denver (23 TDs)
Most field goals madeAl Del Greco, Tennessee (36 FGs)
RushingTerrell Davis, Denver (2,008 yards)
PassingRandall Cunningham, Minnesota, (106.0 rating)
Passing touchdownsSteve Young, San Francisco (36 TDs)
Pass receivingO.J. McDuffie, Miami (90 catches)
Pass receiving yardsAntonio Freeman, Green Bay (1,424)
Receiving touchdownsRandy Moss, Minnesota (17 touchdowns)
Punt returnsDeion Sanders, Dallas (15.6 average yards)
Kickoff returnsTerry Fair, Detroit (28.0 average yards)
InterceptionsTy Law, New England (8)
PuntingCraig Hentrich, Tennessee (47.2 average yards)
SacksMichael Sinclair, Seattle (16.5)


Most Valuable PlayerTerrell Davis, Running back, Denver
Coach of the YearDan Reeves, Atlanta
Offensive Player of the YearTerrell Davis, Running back, Denver
Defensive Player of the YearReggie White, Defensive end, Green Bay
Offensive Rookie of the YearRandy Moss, Wide receiver, Minnesota
Defensive Rookie of the YearCharles Woodson, Cornerback, Oakland
NFL Comeback Player of the YearDoug Flutie, Quarterback, Buffalo

External links


  1. ^ "Denver eyes 19–0, but there's no rush" in Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 16, 1998
  2. ^ Freeman, Mike; "Chasing Perfection and Taking Questions; Voluble Broncos Are 13–0 and Ready to Talk" in New York Times, December 9, 1998
  3. ^ 1998 DVOA Ratings and Commentary
  4. ^ Pincus, David (November 26, 2010). "11/26/1998 - The Turkey Day coin flip". Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
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