This was the first playoff tournament after the AFL-NFL Merger. An eight-team playoff tournament was designed, with four clubs from each conference qualifying. Along with the three division winners in each conference, one wild card team, the second place team with the best record from each conference, was added to the tournament. The first round was named the Divisional Playoffs, while the Conference Championship games were moved to the second playoff round and the Super Bowl became the league's championship game.
However, the home teams in the playoffs were still decided based on a yearly divisional rotation, excluding the wild card teams, who would always play on the road. Also, a rule was made that two teams from the same division could not meet in the Divisional Playoffs.
Note: Prior to the 1975 season, the home teams in the playoffs were decided based on a yearly rotation. Coincidentally in 1970, the home team happened to be the one with the better record in every game. Had the playoffs been seeded, the only difference would have been the Lions would have played the 49ers and Cowboys would have played the Vikings in the divisional playoffs in the NFC.
BAL - Jefferson 45 pass from Unitas (O'Brien kick)BAL 7-0
BAL - field goal O'Brien 44 BAL 10-0
BAL - Hinton 53 pass from Unitas (O'Brien kick) BAL 17-0
The Bengals started out their first season as an NFL team 1-6, but stormed into the playoffs by winning their last seven games. However, Baltimore paid them little respect. The Colts' defense limited the Bengals to 7 first downs and 139 total yards of offense. The closest Cincinnati came to scoring was Horst Muhlmann's 50-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked by Colts linebacker Ray May. Meanwhile, Baltimore quarterback Johnny Unitas threw two touchdown passes: a 45-yard completion to Roy Jefferson in the first quarter and a 53-yard reception to Eddie Hinton in the fourth period. Jim O'Brien added a 44-yard field goal in the second quarter. Rookie running back Norm Bulaich rushed for 116 yards.
DAL - Safety, Andrie tackled Landry in end zone DAL 5-0
Although they recorded 209 rushing yards, the Cowboys could only manage a field goal and a safety. But they still managed to shut out the Lions. The Cowboy defense held Lions QB Greg Landry to 48 passing yards. In addition, they contained his running as Landry was an excellent running QB; he averaged 10 yards per carry and gained 350 yards. However, in this game he was held to 15 yards rushing. In the first quarter, Detroit quarterback Greg Landry's fumble set up Dallas kicker Mike Clark's 26-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 3-0 lead. Then in the final period, Dallas marched 76 yards in 15 plays to advance to the Detroit one-yard line. Rather than kick a field goal on fourth down, the Cowboys elected to give the ball to running back Duane Thomas, and was stopped short of the goal line. But three plays later, Dallas defensive end George Andrie sacked Landry for a safety. Bill Munson replaced Landry and led the Lions down field in the waning moments, but the Cowboys clinched the victory in the final moments with defensive back Mel Renfro's interception at their own 29-yard line. The contest remains the lowest-scoring postseason game in NFL history.
MIA - Warfield 16 pass from Griese (Yepremian kick) MIA 7-0
OAK - Biletnikoff 22 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick) 7-7
OAK - Brown 50 interception return (Blanda kick) OAK 14-7
OAK - Sherman 82 pass from Lamonica (Blanda kick) OAK 21-7
MIA - Richardson 7 pass from Griese (Yepremian kick) OAK 21-14
Quarterback Daryle Lamonica threw two touchdown passes and the Raiders scored 14-points in the second half to defeat the Dolphins, 21-14. In the second quarter, Oakland running back Charlie Smith's fumble set up Miami quarterback Bob Griese's 16-yard touchdown pass to Paul Warfield. The Raiders then tied the game later in the period with Fred Biletnikoff's 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daryle Lamonica. In the third quarter, Oakland cornerback Willie Brown intercepted a Griese pass and returned it 50-yards to the end zone. Later in the final period, Oakland receiver Rod Sherman made an 82-yard touchdown reception to seal the victory.
SF - Witcher 24 pass from Brodie (Gossett kick)7-7
SF - field goal Gossett 40 SF 10-7
SF - Brodie 1 run (Gossett kick) SF 17-7
MIN - Washington 24 pass from Cuozzo (Cox kick) SF 17-14
Quarterback John Brodie lead the 49ers to their first NFL playoff victory by throwing for 201 yards and touchdown and rushing for another. The Vikings scored first when Minnesota defensive back Paul Krause picked San Francisco running back Ken Willard's fumble in midair and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. But the 49ers scored 17 unanswered points, first with Brodie's 24-yard touchdown pass to Dick Witcher. Then in the second quarter, San Francisco converted a Vikings fumble into Bruce Gossett's 40-yard field goal. Brodie scored the clinching touchdown, a 1-yard run, with 1:20 left. Minnesota's 24-yard touchdown pass was snapped with only seven seconds left in the game, and ended with just one second remaining on the clock.
January 3, 1971
AFC Championship: Baltimore Colts 27, Oakland Raiders 17
OAK - Biletnikoff 38 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick)10-10
BAL - field goal O'Brien 23 BAL 13-10
BAL - Bulaich 11 run (O'Brien kick) BAL 20-10
OAK - Wells 15 pass from Blanda (Blanda kick) BAL 20-17
BAL - Perkins 68 pass from Unitas (O'Brien kick) BAL 27-17
The Colts jumped out to a 10-0 lead with kicker Jim O'Brien's 16-yard field goal and Norm Bulaich's 2-yard touchdown run. Oakland's starting quarterback Daryle Lamonica was knocked out of the game after suffering a thigh injury in the second quarter. The Raiders tied the game in the third quarter with Fred Biletnikoff's 38-yard touchdown reception from George Blanda. The Colts then took the lead again with another O'Brien field goal and another Bulaich touchdown. Early in the fourth period, Blanda threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Warren Wells, but Unitas came back with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Perkins that made the score 27-17. Blanda drove the Raiders twice deep into Baltimore territory, but both drives ended with interceptions.
Blanda finished the game completing 17 of 32 passes for 217 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. At 43 years old, he was the oldest quarterback ever to play in a championship game.
This would turn out to be the final home playoff win for the Colts in Baltimore before they moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
NFC Championship: Dallas Cowboys 17, San Francisco 49ers 10
DAL - Garrison 15 pass from Morton (Clark kick) DAL 17-3
SF - Witcher 26 pass from Brodie (Gossett kick)DAL 17-10
Although Dallas quarterback Craig Morton only completed 7 out of 22 passes for 101 yards, rookie halfback Duane Thomas rushed for 143 yards and Dallas converted two third quarter interceptions into 14 points to defeat the 49ers. After a 3-3 halftime score, Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan's interception led to Thomas' 13-yard touchdown run. Then Dallas converted Mel Renfro's interception into fullback Walt Garrison's 5-yard touchdown reception. The 49ers cut the lead to 17-10 with quarterback John Brodie's 26-yard touchdown pass to Dick Witcher, but were shut out for the rest of the game.
This was the last 49ers home game played at Kezar Stadium. Johnny Mathis sang the National Anthem.