1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly-renamed played their home games during this season at the Tennessee Oilers Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while a new stadium in Nashville began construction.
This was the last season to date that
TNT Broadcast NFL games, as well as the last for NBC until 2006. When the TV contracts were renewed near the end of the season, CBS took over the American Football Conference package and ESPN won the right to televise all of the Sunday night games.
Due to Game 7 of the
1997 World Series, the Chicago Bears– Miami Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium was moved back one day to Monday, October 27.
Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both changed their uniforms, and the new uniforms for both teams were introduced during this season.
The season ended with
Super Bowl XXXII when the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers.
1997 NFL Season Changes
Pittsburgh Steelers - New font style numbers to match those on the helmets; Steelers logo patch on uniform.
Baltimore Ravens - New style numbers with shadow in the back; wore white pants with home uniforms.
Cincinnati Bengals - Brighter orange on uniform; new Logo, and Bengals logo on sleeve ends.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - New logo and uniforms; Pewter pants and red home jerseys. Orange was maintained as a pinstripe.
Jacksonville Jaguars - New font style numbers; black side panels on uniforms.
Atlanta Falcons - New Logo; new striping on pants; red numbers with black trim on road uniforms.
San Diego Chargers - White pants with road uniforms.
Denver Broncos - New Logo and uniforms, with navy replacing orange as the primary color. Miami Dolphins - New Logo with darker aqua; new shadow in the numbers.
1997 Coaching Changes
Major rule changes
When a team fakes a punt and throws the ball downfield, pass interference will not be called on the two outside defenders who are actually trying to block a coverage man from getting downfield and might not even know the ball has been thrown.
In order to reduce taunting and excessive celebrations, no player may remove his helmet while on the playing field except during timeouts and between quarters. This is known as the " Emmitt Smith rule" after the Dallas Cowboys' Running Back's habit of taking his helmet off every time he scored a touchdown.
Final regular season standings
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
Miami finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
Pittsburgh finished ahead of Jacksonville in the AFC Central based on better net division points (78 to Jaguars' 23).
Oakland finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on better division record (2-6 to Chargers' 1-7).
San Francisco was the top NFC playoff seed based on better conference record than Green Bay (11-1 to Packers' 10-2).
Detroit finished ahead of Minnesota in the NFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
Carolina finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
Wild Card Playoffs
Super Bowl XXXII
Wild-Card playoffs: DENVER 42, Jacksonville 17; NEW ENGLAND 17, Miami 3
Divisional playoffs: PITTSBURGH 7, New England 6; Denver 14, KANSAS CITY 10
AFC Championship: Denver 24, PITTSBURGH 21 at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 11, 1998
Wild-Card playoffs: Minnesota 23, N.Y. GIANTS 22; TAMPA BAY 20, Detroit 10
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 38, Minnesota 22; GREEN BAY 21, Tampa Bay 7
NFC Championship: Green Bay 23, SAN FRANCISCO 10 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California, January 11, 1998
Points scored Denver Broncos (472)
Total yards gained Denver Broncos (5,872)
Yards rushing Pittsburgh Steelers (2,479)
Yards passing Seattle Seahawks (3,959)
Fewest points allowed Kansas City Chiefs (232)
Fewest total yards allowed San Francisco 49ers (4,013)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (1,318)
Fewest passing yards allowed Dallas Cowboys (2,522)
Scoring Mike Hollis, Jacksonville (134 points)
Touchdowns Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, Miami (16 TDs)
Most field goals made Richie Cunningham, Dallas (34 FGs)
Rushing Barry Sanders, Detroit, (2,053 yards)
Passing Steve Young, San Francisco (104.7 rating)
Passing touchdowns Brett Favre, Green Bay (35 TDs)
Pass receiving Tim Brown, Oakland and Herman Moore, Detroit (104 catches)
Pass receiving yards Rob Moore, Arizona (1,584)
Punt returns Jermaine Lewis, Baltimore (15.6 average yards)
Kickoff returns Michael Bates, Carolina (27.3 average yards)
Interceptions Ryan McNeil, St. Louis (9)
Punting Mark Royals, New Orleans (45.9 average yards)
Sacks John Randle, Minnesota (15.5)
Most Valuable Players Brett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay and Barry Sanders, Running Back, Detroit
Coach of the Year Jim Fassel, New York Giants
Offensive Player of the Year Barry Sanders, Running Back, Detroit
Defensive Player of the Year Dana Stubblefield, Defensive Tackle, San Francisco
Offensive Rookie of the Year Warrick Dunn, Running Back, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year Peter Boulware, Linebacker, Baltimore