|Duration||September 16 – December 16, 1973|
|Start date||December 22, 1973|
|AFC Champions||Miami Dolphins|
|NFC Champions||Minnesota Vikings|
|Super Bowl VIII|
|Date||January 13, 1974|
|Site||Rice Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|Date||January 20, 1974|
Kansas City, Missouri
The 1973 NFL season was the 54th regular season of the National Football League. The season was highlighted by O. J. Simpson becoming the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in one season.
The season ended with Super Bowl VIII when the Miami Dolphins repeated as league champions by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 24–7 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Pro Bowl took place on January 20, 1974, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri; the AFC beat the NFC 15–13.
The 1973 NFL Draft was held from January 30 to 31, 1973 at New York City's Americana Hotel. With the first pick, the Houston Oilers selected defensive end John Matuszak from the University of Tampa.
The system would later be modified throughout the years to increase the available numbers to different positions due to increasing team rosters and teams retiring numbers.
Main article: NFL on television § Blackout policies
Through December 1972, all NFL home games (including championship games and Super Bowls) were blacked-out on television in each team's respective city. The first exception was Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles in January 1973; the league changed their policy to black out home games only if tickets had not sold out. This expanded the league's television presence in teams' home cities on gameday.
The policy was put into effect when, in 1972, the Washington Redskins made the playoffs for only the second time in 27 seasons. Because all home games were blacked-out, politicians — including devout football fan President Richard Nixon — were not able to watch their home team win. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle refused to lift the blackout, despite a plea from Attorney General Richard Kleindienst, who then suggested that the U.S. Congress re-evaluate the NFL's antitrust exemption. Rozelle agreed to lift the blackout for Super Bowl VII on an "experimental basis," but Congress intervened before the 1973 season anyway, passing Public Law 93-107; it eliminated the blackout of games in the home market so long as the game was sold out by 72 hours before kickoff.
With the new rule, the NFL recorded over one million no-shows by ticketholders to regular season games in 1973.
Starting in 1970, and until 2002, there were three divisions (Eastern, Central and Western) in each conference. The winners of each division, and a fourth “wild card” team based on the best non-division winner, qualified for the playoffs. The tiebreaker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, records against common opponents, and records in conference play.
|1||4 teams||1–0–0||2 teams||1–0–0||2 teams||1–0–0||5 teams||1–0–0|
|2||Dallas, St. Louis (tie)||2–0–0||Minnesota||2–0–0||Los Angeles||2–0–0||Dallas, St. Louis (tie)||2–0–0|
|3||Dallas||3–0–0||Minnesota||3–0–0||Los Angeles||3–0–0||St. Louis||2–1–0|
|1||Buffalo, Miami (tie)||1–0–0||Cleveland, Pittsburgh (tie)||1–0–0||Denver||1–0–0||2 teams||1–0–0|
|2||NY Jets||1–1–0||Pittsburgh||2–0–0||4 teams||1–1–0||7 teams||1–1–0|
|3||Buffalo||2–1–0||Pittsburgh||3–0–0||Kansas City||2–1–0||3 teams||2–1–0|
|4||Buffalo, Miami (tie)||3–1–0||Pittsburgh||4–0–0||Kansas City||3–1–0||Buffalo, Miami (tie)||3–1–0|
|5||Buffalo, Miami (tie)||4–1–0||Pittsburgh||4–1–0||Kansas City||3–1–1||Buffalo, Miami (tie)||4–1–0|
Main article: 1973–74 NFL playoffs
|Dec. 22 – Metropolitan Stadium|
|Dec. 30 – Texas Stadium|
|Dec. 23 – Texas Stadium|
|Jan. 13 – Rice Stadium|
|Dec. 22 – Oakland Coliseum|
|Super Bowl VIII|
|Dec. 30 – Miami Orange Bowl|
|Dec. 23 – Miami Orange Bowl|
|Most Valuable Player||O. J. Simpson, Running Back, Buffalo|
|Coach of the Year||Chuck Knox, Los Angeles|
|Offensive Player of the Year||O. J. Simpson, Running Back, Buffalo|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Dick Anderson, Safety, Miami|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Chuck Foreman, Running Back, Minnesota|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Wally Chambers, Defensive Tackle, Chicago|
|Man of the Year||Len Dawson, Quarterback, Kansas City|
|Comeback Player of the Year||Roman Gabriel, Quarterback, Eagles|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Larry Csonka, Running Back, Miami|
The Buffalo Bills moved from their original home at War Memorial Stadium and played their first season at Rich Stadium.
From October 7, the New York Giants moved from Yankee Stadium to the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, where they would play the rest of 1973 and all of 1974. The Giants were forced out of Yankee Stadium after it closed to be renovated to a baseball-only venue. Also, a new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey was already under construction by 1973, but it would not open until 1976.