1990 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 9, 1990–December 31, 1990
Start date January 5, 1991
AFC Champions Buffalo Bills
NFC Champions New York Giants
Super Bowl XXV
Date January 27, 1991
Site Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Champions New York Giants
Pro Bowl
Date February 3, 1991
Site Aloha Stadium
National Football League seasons
 < 1989 1991 > 

The 1990 NFL season was the 71st regular season of the National Football League. To increase revenue, the league changed the regular season so that all NFL teams would play their 16-game schedule over a 17-week period. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams by adding another wild card from each conference, thus adding two more contests to the postseason tournament.

This was also the first full season for Paul Tagliabue as the Commissioner, after taking over from Pete Rozelle midway through the previous season.

ABC was given the rights to televise the two additional playoff games. Meanwhile, Turner's TNT network started to broadcast Sunday night games for the first half of the season.

On October 8, the league announced that the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award would be named the Pete Rozelle Trophy.[1] The season ended with Super Bowl XXV when the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills.

Major rule changesEdit

  • The rule for unnecessary roughness penalties is clarified so that any player who butts, spears, or rams an opponent can be ejected from the game.
  • The penalty for an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage is enforced from the spot where any part of the passer's body is beyond the line when the ball is released.
  • The following changes are made to try to speed up the game:
    • The time interval on the Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) after time outs and other administrative stoppages has been reduced from 30 seconds to 25 seconds (the time interval between plays remains the same at 45 seconds).
    • Whenever a player goes out of bounds, outside of the last two minutes of the first half and outside of the last five minutes of the second half, the Game clock immediately starts when the ball is spotted for the next play and the Referee signals it is ready for play.
    • Outside of the last two minutes of the first half and outside of the last five minutes of the second half, the Game clock also starts following all declined penalties.

Final regular season standingsEdit

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green

AFC East
(1) Buffalo Bills 1330.813428263
(4) Miami Dolphins 1240.750336242
Indianapolis Colts 790.438281353
New York Jets 6100.375295345
New England Patriots 1150.063181446
AFC Central
(3) Cincinnati Bengals 970.563360352
(6) Houston Oilers 970.563405307
Pittsburgh Steelers 970.563292240
Cleveland Browns 3130.188228462
AFC West
(2) Los Angeles Raiders 1240.750337268
(5) Kansas City Chiefs 1150.688369257
Seattle Seahawks 970.563306286
San Diego Chargers 6100.375315281
Denver Broncos 5110.313331374
NFC East
(2) New York Giants 1330.813335211
(4) Philadelphia Eagles 1060.625396299
(5) Washington Redskins 1060.625381301
Dallas Cowboys 790.438244308
Phoenix Cardinals 5110.313268396
NFC Central
(3) Chicago Bears 1150.688348280
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6100.375264367
Detroit Lions 6100.375373413
Green Bay Packers 6100.375271347
Minnesota Vikings 6100.375351326
NFC West
(1) San Francisco 49ers 1420.875353239
(6) New Orleans Saints 880.500274275
Los Angeles Rams 5110.313345412
Atlanta Falcons 5110.313348365


  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston and Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on best head-to-head record (3-1 to Oilers' 2-2 to Steelers' 1-3).
  • Houston was the third AFC Wild Card based on better conference record (8-4) than Seattle (7-5) and Pittsburgh (6-6).
  • Philadelphia finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better division record (5-3 to Redskins' 4-4).
  • Tampa Bay was second in NFC Central based on best head-to-head record (5-1) against Detroit (2-4), Green Bay (3-3), and Minnesota (2-4).
  • Detroit finished third in the NFC Central based on best net division points (minus 8) against Green Bay (minus 40).
  • Green Bay finished ahead of Minnesota in the NFC Central based on better conference record (5-7 to Vikings' 4-8).
  • The L.A. Rams finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on net points in division (plus 1 to Falcons' minus 31).


Home team in capitals


  • Wild-Card playoffs: MIAMI 17, Kansas City 16; CINCINNATI 41, Houston 14
  • Divisional playoffs: BUFFALO 44, Miami 34; L.A. RAIDERS 20, Cincinnati 10
  • AFC Championship: BUFFALO 51, L.A. Raiders 3 at Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, January 20, 1991


  • Wild-Card playoffs: Washington 20, PHILADELPHIA 6; CHICAGO 16, New Orleans 6
  • Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 28, Washington 10; N.Y. GIANTS 31, Chicago 3
  • NFC Championship: N.Y. Giants 15, SAN FRANCISCO 13 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California, January 20, 1991

Super BowlEdit


Most Valuable PlayerJoe Montana, Quarterback, San Francisco
Coach of the YearJimmy Johnson, Dallas
Offensive Player of the YearWarren Moon, Quarterback, Houston Oilers
Defensive Player of the YearBruce Smith, Defensive End, Buffalo
Offensive Rookie of the YearEmmitt Smith, Running Back, Dallas
Defensive Rookie of the YearMark Carrier, Safety, Chicago


1990 NFL seasonv · d · e
AFC East Central West East Central West NFC
Buffalo Cincinnati Denver Dallas Chicago Atlanta
Indianapolis Cleveland Kansas City NY Giants Detroit LA Rams
Miami Houston LA Raiders Philadelphia Green Bay New Orleans
New England Pittsburgh San Diego Phoenix Minnesota San Francisco
NY Jets Seattle Washington Tampa Bay
1990 NFL DraftNFL PlayoffsPro BowlSuper Bowl XXV
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