|1981 National Football League season|
|Duration||September 6, 1981 - December 21, 1981|
|Start date||December 27, 1981|
|AFC Champions||Cincinnati Bengals|
|NFC Champions||San Francisco 49ers|
|Super Bowl XVI|
|Date||January 24, 1982|
|Site||Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan|
|Champions||San Francisco 49ers|
|Date||January 31, 1982|
|National Football League seasons
Major rule changes
- It is illegal for any player to put adhesive or slippery substances such as the product "stickum" on his body, equipment or uniform. This rule is known as both the "Lester Hayes Rule" and the "Fred Biletnikoff Rule" since both players were notorious for using sticky substances to make it easier for them to catch passes.
- An offensive player who comes into the game wearing an illegal number for the position he takes must report to the Referee before the start of the next play.
- The penalty for an ineligible receiver who touches a forward pass is a loss of down.
- The penalty for illegal use of hands, arms, or body (including holding) is reduced from 15 yards to 10 yards.
- The penalty for intentional grounding is modified: loss of down and 10 yards penalty from the previous spot, or if the foul occurs more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, loss of down at the spot of the foul.
W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
wild card berth, - clinched division title- clinched
|x-New York Jets||10||5||1||.656||355||287|
|New England Patriots||2||14||0||.125||322||370|
|y-San Diego Chargers||10||6||0||.625||478||390|
|Kansas City Chiefs||9||7||0||.563||343||290|
|x-New York Giants||9||7||0||.563||295||257|
|St. Louis Cardinals||7||9||0||.438||315||408|
|y-Tampa Bay Buccaneers||9||7||0||.563||315||268|
|Green Bay Packers||8||8||0||.500||324||361|
|y-San Francisco 49ers||13||3||0||.813||357||250|
|Los Angeles Rams||6||10||0||.375||303||351|
|New Orleans Saints||4||12||0||.250||207||378|
- Baltimore finished ahead of New England in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
- San Diego finished ahead of Denver in the AFC West based on better division record (6-2 to Broncos' 5-3).
- Buffalo was the second AFC Wild Card based on head-to-head victory over Denver (1-0).
- Detroit finished ahead of Green Bay in the NFC Central based on better record against common opponents (5-5 to Packers' 4-6).
- Home team in capitals
- Wild-Card playoff: Buffalo 31, N.Y. JETS 27
- Divisional playoffs: San Diego 41, MIAMI 38 (OT) (The Epic in Miami, Kellen Winslow game); CINCINNATI 28, Buffalo 21
- AFC Championship: CINCINNATI 27, San Diego 7 (Freezer Bowl) at Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, January 10, 1982
- Wild-Card playoff: N.Y. Giants 27, PHILADELPHIA 21
- Divisional playoffs: DALLAS 38, Tampa Bay 0; SAN FRANCISCO 38, N.Y. Giants 24
- NFC Championship: SAN FRANCISCO 28, Dallas 27 (The Catch) at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California, January 10, 1982
- Super Bowl XVI: San Francisco (NFC) 26, Cincinnati (AFC) 21, at Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan, January 24, 1982
|Most Valuable Player||Ken Anderson, Quarterback, Cincinnati|
|Coach of the Year||Bill Walsh, San Francisco|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Ken Anderson, Quarterback, Cincinnati|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Lawrence Taylor, Linebacker, N.Y. Giants|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||George Rogers, Running Back, New Orleans|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Lawrence Taylor, Linebacker, N.Y. Giants|
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- NFL History 1981-1990 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
- 1981 season in details
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
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