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1979 NFL season
|Duration||September 1 – December 17, 1979|
|Start date||December 23, 1979|
|AFC Champions||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC Champions||Los Angeles Rams|
|Super Bowl XIV|
|Date||January 20, 1980|
|Site||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California|
|Date||January 27, 1980|
The 1979 NFL season was the 60th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XIV when the Pittsburgh Steelers repeated as champions by defeating the Los Angeles Rams 31–19 at the Rose Bowl. The Steelers became the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls twice.
Jerry Seeman was promoted to referee succeeding Don Wedge who returned to being a deep wing official, primarily as a back judge, where he continued to officiate through 1995. Seeman served as a crew chief for 12 seasons, working Super Bowl XXIII and Super Bowl XXV before leaving the field to succeed Art McNally as NFL Vice President of Officiating from 1991 to 2001.
Major rule changes
- Whenever the quarterback is sacked, the clock will be stopped for at least five seconds and then restarted again. (The stoppage was eliminated effective the 2014 NFL season.)
- If a fair catch is made, or signaled and awarded to a team because of interference, on the last play of a half or overtime, the period can be extended and the team can run one play from scrimmage or attempt a fair catch kick.
- The league's jersey numbering system was modified to allow defensive linemen wear numbers 90 to 99, in addition to 60 to 79. And centers were allowed to wear 60–79, in addition to 50 to 59.
- Players are prohibited from wearing torn or altered equipment. Tear-away jerseys are banned.
- During kickoffs, punts, and field goal attempts, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist.
- The zone in which crackback blocks are prohibited is extended from 3 yards on either side of the line of scrimmage to 5.
- Players cannot use their helmets to butt, spear, or ram an opponent. Any player who uses the crown or the top of his helmet unnecessarily will be called for unnecessary roughness.
- In order to prevent incidents such as the Holy Roller game, the following change is made: If an offensive player fumbles during a fourth down play, or during any down played after the two-minute warning in a half or overtime, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball. This change is known as the "Ken Stabler rule" after the Oakland Raiders quarterback who made the infamous play in the Holy Roller game. In officiating circles, it's known as the "Markbreit rule" after Jerry Markbreit, who was the referee for that game.
- Uprights were extended to 30 feet above the crossbar.
Starting in 1978, ten teams qualified for the playoffs: the winners of each of the divisions, and two wild-card teams in each conference.
National Football Conference
|Week||NFC East||NFC Central||NFC West||Wild Card||Wild Card|
|1||Dallas, Philadelphia||1–0||3 teams||1–0||Atlanta||1–0|
|2||Dallas||2–0||Tampa Bay, Chicago||2–0||Atlanta||2–0|
|3||Dallas||3–0||Tampa Bay||3–0||Atlanta, L.A.||2–1|
|4||Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington||3–1||Tampa Bay||4–0||Atlanta, L.A.||2–2||Chicago||2–2||Minnesota||2–2|
|5||Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington||4–1||Tampa Bay||5–0||L.A.||3–2||Minnesota||3–2||4 teams||2–3|
|6||Dallas, Philadelphia||5–1||Tampa Bay||5–1||L.A.||4–2||Washington||4–2||3 teams||3–3|
|7||Dallas, Philadelphia||6–1||Tampa Bay||5–2||L.A.||4–3||Washington||5–2||5 teams||3–4|
|8||Dallas||7–1||Tampa Bay||6–2||L.A., New Orleans||4–4||Philadelphia, Washington||6–2||Minnesota||4–4|
|9||Dallas||7–2||Tampa Bay||7–2||New Orleans||5–4||Philadelphia, Washington||6–3||4 teams||4–5|
|10||Dallas||8–2||Tampa Bay||7–3||L.A., New Orleans||5–5||Philadelphia, Washington||6–4||Chicago||5–5|
|11||Dallas||8–3||Tampa Bay||8–3||New Orleans||6-5||Philadelphia, Washington||7–4||Chicago||6–5|
|12||Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington||8–4||Tampa Bay||9–3||L.A., New Orleans||6–6||Chicago||7–5||Giants, Minnesota||5–7|
|13||Philadelphia||9–4||Tampa Bay||9–4||L.A., New Orleans||7–6||Dallas, Washington||8–5||Chicago||7–6|
|14||Philadelphia||10–4||Tampa Bay||9–5||L.A.||8–6||Dallas, Washington||9–5||Chicago||8–6|
|15||Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington||10–5||Tampa Bay, Chicago||9–6||L.A.||9–6||Minnesota, New Orleans||7–8||Giants||6–9|
|16||Dallas||11–5||Tampa Bay||10–6||Los Angeles||9–7||Philadelphia||11–5||Chicago||10–6|
American Football Conference
|Week||AFC East||AFC Central||AFC West||Wild Card||Wild Card|
|1||Miami||1–0||3 teams||1–0||4 teams||1–0|
|2||Miami||2–0||Pittsburgh, Cleveland||2–0||San Diego||2–0|
|3||Miami||3–0||Pittsburgh, Cleveland||3–0||San Diego||3–0||New England, Houston, Denver||2–1|
|4||Miami||4–0||Pittsburgh, Cleveland||4–0||San Diego, Denver||3–1||New England, Houston||3–1||Buffalo, Kansas City||2–2|
|5||Miami||4–1||Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Houston||4–1||San Diego||4–1||New England, Denver, Buffalo, Kansas City||3–2||Jets, Oakland||2–3|
|6||Miami, New England||4–2||Pittsburgh||5–1||San Diego, Denver, Kansas City||4–2||Cleveland, Houston||4–2||Buffalo, Oakland||3–3|
|7||Miami, New England||5–2||Pittsburgh, Houston||5–2||San Diego, Denver||5–2||Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland||4–3||Buffalo, Jets||3–4|
|8||New England||6–2||Pittsburgh||6–2||San Diego||6–2||Miami, Cleveland, Houston, Denver||5–3||Jets, Kansas City, Oakland||4–4|
|9||Miami, New England||6–3||Pittsburgh||7–2||San Diego, Denver||6–3||Cleveland, Houston||6–3||Oakland||5–4|
|10||New England||7–3||Pittsburgh||8–2||San Diego, Denver||7–3||Cleveland, Houston||7–3||Miami, Oakland||6–4|
|11||Miami, New England||7–4||Pittsburgh||9–2||San Diego, Denver||8–3||Houston||8–3||Cleveland||7–4|
|12||New England||8–4||Pittsburgh, Houston||9–3||San Diego, Denver||9–3||Cleveland||8–4||Miami||7–5|
|13||Miami, New England||8–5||Pittsburgh, Houston||10–3||San Diego||10–3||Denver||9–4||Cleveland||8–5|
|14||Miami||9–5||Pittsburgh||11–3||San Diego, Denver||10–4||Houston||10–4||Cleveland||9–5|
|15||Miami||10–5||Pittsburgh, Houston||11–4||San Diego||11–4||Denver||10–5||Cleveland, Oakland||9–6|
- San Diego was the top AFC playoff seed based on head-to-head victory over Pittsburgh.
- Seattle finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Dallas finished ahead of Philadelphia in the NFC East based on better conference record (10–2 to Philadelphia's 9–3).
- Tampa Bay finished ahead of Chicago in the NFC Central based on better division record (6–2 to Chicago's 5–3).
- Chicago was the second NFC Wild Card ahead of Washington based on better net points in all games (+57 to Washington's 53).
|Dec 30 – Texas Stadium|
|Dec 23 – Veterans Stadium||Jan 6 – Tampa Stadium|
|Dec 29 – Tampa Stadium|
|Jan 20 – Rose Bowl|
|Wild Card playoffs||N3||Los Angeles||19|
|Dec 29 – San Diego Stadium|
|Super Bowl XIV|
|Dec 23 – Astrodome||Jan 6 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|Dec 30 – Three Rivers Stadium|
- Note: The Dallas Cowboys (the NFC 1 seed) did not play the Philadelphia Eagles (the 4 seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.
|Points scored||Pittsburgh Steelers (416)|
|Total yards gained||Pittsburgh Steelers (6,258)|
|Yards rushing||New York Jets (2,646)|
|Yards passing||San Diego Chargers (3,915)|
|Fewest points allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (237)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3,949)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Denver Broncos (1,693)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,076)|
|Most Valuable Player||Earl Campbell, Running Back, Houston Oilers|
|Coach of the Year||Jack Pardee, Washington|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Earl Campbell, Running Back, Houston Oilers|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Lee Roy Selmon, Defensive End, Tampa Bay|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Ottis Anderson, Running Back, St. Louis Cardinals|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Jim Haslett, Linebacker, Buffalo|
|Man of the Year Award||Joe Greene, Defensive Tackle, Pittsburgh|
|Comeback Player of the Year||Larry Csonka, Running Back, Miami|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Terry Bradshaw, Quarterback, Pittsburgh|
- Cincinnati Bengals: Homer Rice began his first full season as the team's head coach. He replaced Bill Johnson after the Bengals started the 1978 season at 0–5.
- Oakland Raiders: John Madden retired and was replaced by Tom Flores.
- New England Patriots: Ron Erhardt was named as permanent head coach. The team had suspended Chuck Fairbanks for the last regular season game in 1978. Fairbanks had been in talks all that season to join the University of Colorado Buffaloes, breaching his contract with the Patriots. Coordinators Erhardt and Hank Bullough took over as co-interim head coaches for that final 1978 game. Fairbanks was reinstated as head coach two weeks later for the Divisional Playoffs, but left in the off-season to join Colorado.
- New York Giants: John McVay was fired and replaced by Ray Perkins.
- San Diego Chargers: Don Coryell began his first full season as Chargers head coach. He replaced Tommy Prothro, who was fired after a 1–3 start in 1978.
- San Francisco 49ers: Bill Walsh was hired as the new 49ers head coach. Pete McCulley was fired after a 1–8 start in 1978, and Fred O'Connor served as interim for the last seven games.
- St. Louis Cardinals: Bud Wilkinson was fired after the team started the season at 3–10. The team's personal director Larry Wilson served as interim for the last three games.
- Several changes were made to the officiating uniforms, including:
- Referees were outfitted with black identifying hats, while all other officials continued to wear white hats. This was the same as the Canadian Football League at the time, but the opposite of American high school and college football.
- For the first time, each official's position was identified on his shirt. The position was abbreviated on the front pocket of the shirt and then spelled out on the back above the number.
- The numbering system for officials was altered, with officials numbered separately by position rather than as an entire group, making duplicate numbers among officials common.
- The TV numbers on the Dallas Cowboys' blue jerseys moved from the sleeves to the shoulders, matching the white jerseys, which moved the TV numbers to the shoulders in 1974.
- The New York Giants began wearing their white pants with their white jerseys, discontinuing their blue pants
- The Washington Redskins replaced their gold pants with burgundy pants with their white jerseys and white pants with their burgundy jerseys
- The San Diego Chargers replaced the blue and white stripe on the yellow pants with a white lighting bolt outlined in blue.
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