1996 NFL season

1996 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 1 – December 23, 1996
Start date December 28, 1996
AFC Champions New England Patriots
NFC Champions Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl XXXI
Date January 26, 1997
Site Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Green Bay Packers
Pro Bowl
Date February 2, 1997
Site Aloha Stadium

The 1996 NFL season was the 77th regular season of the National Football League and the season was marked by notable controversies from beginning to end. The season ended with Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21 at the Louisiana Superdome.

Notable events

When Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns, wanted to relocate his team to Baltimore in a surprise move first reported on by the Boston Globe on November 4, 1995, the ensuing press furor and public relations mess forced the league to intercede and make an agreement with him and the Cities of Cleveland and Baltimore before the new season had barely begun. In the belated agreement, the name, colors and history of the Browns were to remain in Cleveland, while the relocated club would technically be a new league franchise; the city of Cleveland would be given another new franchise in the next few years, or a relocated existing franchise. Either way, the beloved Cleveland Browns would continue, while the Baltimore Ravens began their new history when the 1996 season started.

1996 AFC West champion Denver hosts Tampa Bay at Mile High Stadium, September 15, 1996

The season was also the final season for the Houston Oilers before leaving Texas for Memphis for the following season, and then to Nashville in 1998. This move left Houston with no professional football team until the 2002 debut of the Texans.

One of the most memorable aspects of the 1996 season was that the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, each in just their second year of existence, both advanced to their respective conference championship games. 1996 marked the third year the NFL salary cap was in force and also marked the end of a domination era in the NFL as it was the first season since 1991 (and only the second since 1987) in which neither the Dallas Cowboys nor the San Francisco 49ers played in the NFC Championship Game.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots in a game ultimately decided when a third-quarter kick-off was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by Packers' kick returner, Desmond Howard. For that, and his excellent performance on kick-off and punt returns throughout the game, Howard was named Super Bowl MVP, the only time (as of February 2016) that a special teams player has earned that distinction.

All that was nearly overshadowed by the press feeding frenzy reporting and commenting on the rumor, between the AFC championship game up to and into the broadcast coverage of Super Bowl XXXI itself, that iconic coach Bill Parcells was planning on breaking his contract with the New England Patriots because he did not get along well with owner Robert Kraft, who had helped turn around New England's image after years of ownership that was either dismal or absent. In the event, Parcells did not even return with the players, and telephone records showed he was talking to the Jets in the days before and the day of the Super Bowl itself. This documentary evidence led to the league awarding the Patriots multiple draft picks in compensation for the "tampering" by the Jets,[1] which is but a continuation of one-upmanship that has gone on for years between the hated rivals.

Uniform changes

Stadium changes

Coaching changes

Major rule 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 England Patriots 115.688418313
(4) Buffalo Bills 106.625319266
(6) Indianapolis Colts 97.563317334
Miami Dolphins 88.500339325
New York Jets 115.063279454
AFC Central
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers 106.625344257
(5) Jacksonville Jaguars 97.563325335
Cincinnati Bengals 88.500372369
Houston Oilers 88.500345319
Baltimore Ravens 412.250371441
AFC West
(1) Denver Broncos 133.813391275
Kansas City Chiefs 97.563297300
San Diego Chargers 88.500310376
Oakland Raiders 79.438340293
Seattle Seahawks 79.438317376
NFC East
(3) Dallas Cowboys 106.625286250
(5) Philadelphia Eagles 106.625363341
Washington Redskins 97.563364312
Arizona Cardinals 79.438300397
New York Giants 610.375242297
NFC Central
(1) Green Bay Packers 133.813456210
(6) Minnesota Vikings 97.563298315
Chicago Bears 79.438283305
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 610.375221293
Detroit Lions 511.313302368
NFC West
(2) Carolina Panthers 124.750367218
(4) San Francisco 49ers 124.750398257
St. Louis Rams 610.375303409
Atlanta Falcons 313.188309461
New Orleans Saints 313.188229339



Dec. 28 – Rich Stadium   Jan. 4 – Mile High Stadium          
 5  Jacksonville  30
 5  Jacksonville  30
 4  Buffalo  27     Jan. 12 – Foxboro Stadium
 1  Denver  27  
Dec. 29 – Three Rivers Stadium  5  Jacksonville  6
Jan. 5 – Foxboro Stadium
   2  New England  20  
 6  Indianapolis  14 AFC Championship
 3  Pittsburgh  3
 3  Pittsburgh  42   Jan. 26 – Louisiana Superdome
 2  New England  28  
Dec. 28 – Texas Stadium  A2  New England  21
Jan. 5 – Ericsson Stadium
   N1  Green Bay  35
 6  Minnesota  15 Super Bowl XXXI
 3  Dallas  17
 3  Dallas  40     Jan. 12 – Lambeau Field
 2  Carolina  26  
Dec. 29 – 3Com Park  2  Carolina  13
Jan. 4 – Lambeau Field
   1  Green Bay  30  
 5  Philadelphia  0 NFC Championship
 4  San Francisco  14
 4  San Francisco  14  
 1  Green Bay  35  

Statistical leaders


Points scoredGreen Bay Packers (456)
Total yards gainedDenver Broncos (5,791)
Yards rushingDenver Broncos (2,362)
Yards passingJacksonville Jaguars (4,110)
Fewest points allowedGreen Bay Packers (210)
Fewest total yards allowedGreen Bay Packers (4,156)
Fewest rushing yards allowedDenver Broncos (1,331)
Fewest passing yards allowedGreen Bay Packers (2,740)


ScoringJohn Kasay, Carolina (145 points)
TouchdownsTerry Allen, Washington (21 TDs)
Most field goals madeJohn Kasay, Carolina (37 FGs)
RushingBarry Sanders, Detroit (1,553 yards)
PassingSteve Young, San Francisco (97.2 rating)
Passing touchdownsBrett Favre, Green Bay (39 TDs)
Pass receivingJerry Rice, San Francisco (108 catches)
Pass receiving yardsIsaac Bruce, St. Louis (1,338)
Punt returnsDesmond Howard, Green Bay (15.1 average yards)
Kickoff returnsMichael Bates, Carolina (30.2 average yards)
InterceptionsTyrone Braxton, Denver and Keith Lyle, St. Louis (9)
PuntingJohn Kidd, Miami (46.3 average yards)
SacksKevin Greene, Carolina (14.5)


Most Valuable PlayerBrett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay
Coach of the YearDom Capers, Carolina
Offensive Player of the YearTerrell Davis, Running Back, Denver
Defensive Player of the YearBruce Smith, Defensive End, Buffalo
Offensive Rookie of the YearEddie George, Running Back, Houston
Defensive Rookie of the YearSimeon Rice, Defensive End, Arizona
Comeback Player of the YearJerome Bettis, Running Back, Pittsburgh

External links



  1. Michael Holly (2004). Patriots Reign (1st ed. HC ed.). HarperCollins. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-06-075795-3.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.