The 1995 NFL season was the 76th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded to 30 teams with the addition of the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two expansion teams were slotted into the two remaining divisions that previously had only four teams (while the other four had five teams): the AFC Central (Jaguars) and the NFC West (Panthers).
Meanwhile, the two teams in Los Angeles relocated to other cities: the Rams transferred to St. Louis and the Raiders moved back to Oakland; this would be the start of a 20-year absence for the NFL in Los Angeles. During the course of the season it emerged that the Cleveland Browns would relocate to Baltimore for the 1996 season. The Raiders’ move was not announced until after the schedule had been announced, which resulted in a problem in the third week of the season when both the Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers had games scheduled to air on NBC which ended up overlapping each other. The Raiders game was rescheduled for 10:00 AM PDT in case they were to relocate and NBC was given the doubleheader so that both Bay Area teams had their games televised locally.
The season ended with Super Bowl XXX, when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27–17 at Sun Devil Stadium. They became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years. This season was Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula’s last season as coach.
- April 18, 1995: Four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Montana announced his retirement. He spent the last two seasons of his career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 1995 NFL Draft was held from April 22 to 23, 1995 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected running back Ki-Jana Carter from Penn State University.
The 1995 NFL expansion draft was held on February 15, 1995. The Jacksonville Jaguars held the first pick overall, while the Carolina Panthers were second, alternating picks as the existing teams made six players available for selection,. The Panthers ultimately picked 35 players, while the Jaguars picked 31. With the first selection in the Expansion Draft, the Jaguars selected quarterback Steve Beuerlein from the Arizona Cardinals. Selecting second, the Panthers obtained cornerback Rod Smith from the New England Patriots.
Mike Carey and Walt Coleman were promoted to referee. Dale Hamer had to sit out the 1995 season to recover from open heart surgery, while league expansion from 28 to 30 teams required an additional officiating crew.
A series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States. Two games were contested in 1995.
Hall of Fame Game
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, featured the NFL's newest expansions teams, as the Carolina Panthers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-14, was played on July 29, and held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the league was founded. The 1995 Hall of Fame Class included Jim Finks, Henry Jordan, Steve Largent, Lee Roy Selmon and Kellen Winslow
Highlights of the 1995 season included:
- Thanksgiving: Two games were played on Thursday, November 23, featuring the Minnesota Vikings at Detroit and Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas, with Detroit and Dallas winning.
- Snowball Game (1995): In the final weekend of the season, the New York Giants hosted the San Diego Chargers. Giants fans threw snowballs onto the field throughout the contest. This action resulted in 15 arrests and the ejection of 175 fans from Giants Stadium; San Diego posted a 27–17 victory in what became known as the "Snowball Game".
- Indianapolis finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- San Diego was the first AFC Wild Card based on head-to-head victory over Indianapolis (1–0).
- Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston in the AFC Central based on better division record (4–4 to Oilers’ 3–5).
- Seattle finished ahead of Denver and Oakland in the AFC West based on best head-to-head record (3–1 to Broncos’ 2–2 and Raiders’ 1–3).
- Denver finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Philadelphia was the first NFC Wild Card ahead of Detroit based on better conference record (9–3 to Lions’ 7–5).
- San Francisco was the second NFC playoff seed ahead of Green Bay based on better conference record (8–4 to Packers’ 7–5).
- Atlanta was the third NFC Wild Card ahead of Chicago based on better record against common opponents (4–2 to Bears’ 3–3).
- St. Louis finished ahead of Carolina and New Orleans in the NFC West based on best head-to-head record (3–1 to Panthers’ 1–3 and Saints’ 2–2).
- Carolina finished ahead of New Orleans in the NFC West based on better conference record (4–8 to 3–9).
The following players set all-time records during the season:
|Most Touchdowns, season
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (25)
|Most Passing Attempts, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (6,531 at the end of the season)
|Most Passes Completed, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (3,913 at the end of the season)
|Most Passing Yards, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (48,841 at the end of the season)
|Most Touchdown Passes, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (352 at the end of the season)
|Most Pass Receptions, career
||Jerry Rice, San Francisco (942 at the end of the season)
|Most Pass Receiving Yards Gained, career
||Jerry Rice, San Francisco (15,123 at the end of the season)
||San Francisco 49ers (457)
|Total yards gained
||Detroit Lions (6,113)
||Kansas City Chiefs (2,222)
||San Francisco 49ers (4,608)
|Fewest points allowed
||Kansas City Chiefs (241)
|Fewest total yards allowed
||San Francisco 49ers (4,398)
|Fewest rushing yards allowed
||San Francisco 49ers (1,061)
|Fewest passing yards allowed
||New York Jets (2,740)
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (150 points)
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (25 TDs)
|Most field goals made
||Norm Johnson, Pittsburgh (34 FGs)
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1,773 yards)
||Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis (100.7 rating)
||Brett Favre, Green Bay (38 TDs)
||Herman Moore, Detroit (123 catches)
|Pass receiving yards
||Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1,848)
||David Palmer, Minnesota (13.2 average yards)
||Ron Carpenter, New York Jets (27.7 average yards)
||Orlando Thomas, Minnesota (9)
||Rick Tuten, Seattle (45.0 average yards)
||Bryce Paup, Buffalo (17.5)
The 1995 season produced four of the top twenty highest single-season totals for receiving yards. Two of the top five teams receiving yard totals of all time – Jerry Rice's 1,848 & Isaac Bruce's 1,781 – were recorded in 1995. Detroit Lions receiver Herman Moore gained 1,686 yards (6th highest all time) and Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin gained 1,603 yards (11th most in NFL history).