1972 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 17 – December 17, 1972
Playoffs
Start date December 23, 1972
AFC Champions Miami Dolphins
NFC Champions Washington Redskins
Super Bowl VII
Date January 14, 1973
Site L.A. Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Champions {{{sb_champions}}}
Champions Miami Dolphins
Pro Bowl
Date January 21, 1973
National Football League seasons
 < 1971 1973 > 

The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League. The Miami Dolphins became the first NFL team to finish a championship season undefeated and untied when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

Major rule changes[edit | edit source]

  • The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved closer to the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines. The hashmarks are now 18 feet, 6 inches apart (the same width as the goalposts), cutting down on severe angles for short field goal attempts.
  • If a legal receiver goes out of bounds, either accidentally or forced out, and returns to touch or catch the pass in bounds, the penalty is a loss of down (but no penalty yardage will be assessed).
  • If a punt or missed field goal crosses the receivers' goal line, a member of the receiving team may advance the ball into the field of play. Previously, the ball was dead when a scrimmage kick crossed the goal line and the receivers were awarded an automatic touchback.
  • All fouls committed by the offensive team behind the line of scrimmage will be assessed from the previous spot.
  • Tie games, previously ignored in computing of winning percentage, were made equal to a half-game win and a half-game loss.

Division races[edit | edit source]

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.

National Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 3 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 3 teams 1–0–0 5 teams 1–0–0
2 2 teams 2–0–0 Minnesota 1–1–0 Los Angeles 1–0–1 2 teams 2–0–0
3 Washington 2–1–0 2 teams 2–1–0 2 teams 2–1–0 3 teams 2–1–0
4 Washington 3–1–0 Detroit* 3–1–0 Los Angeles 2–1–1 2 teams 3–1–0
5 Washington 4–1–0 Green Bay 4–1–0 Los Angeles 3–1–1 Dallas 4–1–0
6 Washington 5–1–0 Green Bay* 4–2–0 Los Angeles 4–1–1 4 teams 4–2–0
7 Washington 6–1–0 Green Bay* 4–3–0 Los Angeles 4–2–1 Dallas 5–2–0
8 Washington 7–1–0 Green Bay* 5–3–0 Los Angeles 5–2–1 Dallas 6–2–0
9 Washington 8–1–0 Green Bay 6–3–0 Los Angeles 5–3–1 Dallas 7–2–0
10 Washington 9–1–0 Green Bay 7–3–0 Los Angeles* 5–4–1 Dallas 8–2–0
11 Washington 10–1–0 Green Bay* 7–4–0 San Francisco 6–4–1 Dallas 8–3–0
12 Washington 11–1–0 Green Bay 8–4–0 Atlanta 7–5–0 Dallas 9–3–0
13 Washington 11–2–0 Green Bay 9–4–0 San Francisco 7–5–1 Dallas 10–3–0
14 Washington 11–3–0 Green Bay 10–4–0 San Francisco 8–5–1 Dallas 10–4–0

American Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 2 teams 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0 Denver 1–0–0 2 teams 1–0–0
2 2 teams 2–0–0 Cincinnati 2–0–0 4 teams 1–1–0 2 teams 2–0–0
3 Miami 3–0–0 Cleveland 2–1–0 Kansas City 2–1–0 4 teams 2–1–0
4 Miami 4–0–0 Cincinnati 3–1–0 Kansas City 3–1–0 San Diego* 2–1–1
5 Miami 5–0–0 Cincinnati 4–1–0 Oakland 3–1–1 N.Y. Jets* 3–2–0
6 Miami 6–0–0 Cincinnati* 4–2–0 Oakland 3–2–1 Pittsburgh* 4–2–0
7 Miami 7–0–0 Cincinnati* 5–2–0 Oakland 4–2–1 Pittsburgh* 5–2–0
8 Miami 8–0–0 Pittsburgh 6–2–0 Kansas City 5–3–0 Cleveland* 5–3–0
9 Miami 9–0–0 Pittsburgh 7–2–0 Oakland 5–3–1 Cleveland* 6–3–0
10 Miami 10–0–0 Cleveland 7–3–0 Oakland 6–3–1 Pittsburgh 7–3–0
11 Miami 11–0–0 Cleveland 8–3–0 Oakland 7–3–1 Pittsburgh 8–3–0
12 Miami 12–0–0 Pittsburgh 9–3–0 Oakland 8–3–1 Cleveland 8–4–0
13 Miami 13–0–0 Pittsburgh 10–3–0 Oakland 9–3–1 Cleveland 9–4–0
14 Miami 14–0–0 Pittsburgh 11–3–0 Oakland 10–3–1 Cleveland 10–4–0

Final standings[edit | edit source]

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
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Miami Dolphins 14 0 0 1.000 385 171
New York Jets 7 7 0 .500 367 324
Baltimore Colts 5 9 0 .357 235 252
Buffalo Bills 4 9 1 .321 257 377
New England Patriots 3 11 0 .214 192 446
AFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Pittsburgh Steelers 11 3 0 .786 343 175
x-Cleveland Browns 10 4 0 .714 268 249
Cincinnati Bengals 8 6 0 .571 299 229
Houston Oilers 1 13 0 .071 164 380
AFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Oakland Raiders 10 3 1 .750 365 248
Kansas City Chiefs 8 6 0 .571 287 254
Denver Broncos 5 9 0 .357 325 350
San Diego Chargers 4 9 1 .321 264 344
NFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Washington Redskins 11 3 0 .786 336 218
x-Dallas Cowboys 10 4 0 .714 319 240
New York Giants 8 6 0 .571 331 247
St. Louis Cardinals 4 9 1 .321 193 303
Philadelphia Eagles 2 11 1 .179 145 352
NFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-Green Bay Packers 10 4 0 .714 304 226
Detroit Lions 8 5 1 .607 339 290
Minnesota Vikings 7 7 0 .500 301 252
Chicago Bears 4 9 1 .321 225 275
NFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA
y-San Francisco 49ers 8 5 1 .607 353 249
Atlanta Falcons 7 7 0 .500 269 274
Los Angeles Rams 6 7 1 .464 291 286
New Orleans Saints 2 11 1 .179 215 361



Playoffs[edit | edit source]

Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation.
Divisional Playoffs Conf. Championship Games Super Bowl VII
                   
December 24 – Miami Orange Bowl        
 Cleveland Browns  14
December 31 – Three Rivers Stadium
 Miami Dolphins  20  
 Miami Dolphins  21
December 23 – Three Rivers Stadium
     Pittsburgh Steelers  17  
 Oakland Raiders  7
January 14 – L.A. Coliseum
 Pittsburgh Steelers  13  
 Miami Dolphins  14
December 23 – Candlestick Park    
   Washington Redskins  7
 Dallas Cowboys  30
December 31 – RFK Stadium
 San Francisco 49ers  28  
 Dallas Cowboys  3
December 24 – RFK Stadium
     Washington Redskins  26  
 Green Bay Packers  3
 Washington Redskins  16  
 

Awards[edit | edit source]

Most Valuable Player Larry Brown, Running Back, Washington
Coach of the Year Don Shula, Miami
Offensive Player of the Year Larry Brown, Running Back, Washington
Defensive Player of the Year Joe Greene, Defensive End, Pittsburgh
Offensive Rookie of the Year Franco Harris, Running Back, Pittsburgh
Defensive Rookie of the Year Willie Buchanon, Cornerback, Green Bay

References[edit | edit source]

Template:1972 NFL season by team

NFL seasons

Early Era (1920-1969)

1920192119221923192419251926192719281929

1930193119321933193419351936193719381939

1940194119421943194419451946194719481949

1950195119521953195419551956195719581959

1960196119621963196419651966196719681969

Modern Era (1970-present)
1970197119721973197419751976197719781979

1980198119821983198419851986198719881989

1990199119921993199419951996199719981999

2000200120022003200420052006200720082009

2010201120122013201420152016201720182019 • 2009

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.