|Duration||September 8, 2005 – January 1, 2006|
|Start date||January 7, 2006|
|AFC Champions||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC Champions||Seattle Seahawks|
|Super Bowl XL|
|Date||February 5, 2006|
|Site||Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan|
|Date||February 12, 2006|
Regular season play was held from September 8, 2005 to January 1, 2006. The regular season also saw the first ever regular season game played outside the United States, as well as the New Orleans Saints being forced to play elsewhere due to damage to the Superdome and the entire New Orleans area by Hurricane Katrina.
The playoffs began on January 7. The New England Patriots' streak of 10 consecutive playoff wins and chance at a third straight Super Bowl title was ended in the Divisional Playoff Round by the Denver Broncos, and eventually the NFL title was won by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21–10 in Super Bowl XL at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on February 5 for their fifth Super Bowl win. This also marked the first time that a sixth-seeded team, who by the nature of their seeding would play every game on the road, would advance to and win the Super Bowl.
The 2005 NFL Draft was held from April 23 to 24, 2005 at New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. With the first pick, the San Francisco 49ers selected quarterback Alex Smith from the University of Utah.
Major rule changes
- The “horse-collar tackle”, in which a defender grabs inside the back or side of an opponent's shoulder pads and pulls that player down, is prohibited. Named the “Roy Williams Rule” after the Dallas Cowboys safety whose horse collar tackles during the 2004 season caused serious injuries to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tyrone Calico, and Baltimore Ravens running back Musa Smith.
- Peel-back blocks (where an offensive player blocks a defender who is moving back toward the direction of his own end zone) below the waist and from the back are now illegal.
- Unnecessary roughness would be called for blocks away from the play on punters or kickers, similar to the same protection quarterbacks have after interceptions.
- When time is stopped by officials prior to the snap for any reason while time is in, the play clock resumes with the same amount of time that remained on it – with a minimum of 10 seconds. Previously, the play-clock would be reset to 25 seconds.
- During field goal and extra point attempts, the defensive team will be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct if it calls consecutive timeouts in an attempt to "ice" the kicker. Previously, the second timeout request was only denied by officials, and thus could be used to distract the kickers.
- Players cannot run, dive into, cut, or throw their bodies against or on an opponent who is out of the play or should not have reasonably anticipated such contact.
- If the defensive team commits a dead ball foul following the end of the half, the offensive team may choose to extend the period for one more play. Previously, the half automatically ended without the defensive team being penalized.
- During a punt, if the kicking team illegally touches the ball inside the 5-yard line, the receiving team has the option of either treating the result as a touchback or replaying the down with a 5-yard penalty against the kicking team. Previously, the receiving team's only options were either the latter or taking over possession at the spot of the foul. This change prevents an ineligible player from keeping a kick from entering the end zone and becoming a touchback.
- If the kicking team commits a penalty, the receiving team can have the option of adding the penalty yardage to the return or taking a penalty and forcing the kicking team to rekick the ball. Previously they could take the latter or decline the penalty.
- If a team calls for an instant replay challenge after it has used all its challenges or is out of timeouts, it will be assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The penalty will also be assessed if a team calls for a challenge inside of two minutes of either half or overtime, when only the replay assistant can initiate reviews. Previously, the request was only denied by the Referee. This change was made to prevent head coaches from constantly stopping the game for any reason, including to just argue with the Referee.
- Teams are only able to request an instant replay challenge by tossing their red flag to get the attention of officials. The league decided to do away with the electronic pager/vibrating alert system used by head coaches because practically all of them always used their red flags instead of their pagers anyway. (However, the replay assistant will still use the pagers to notify the officials of a replay request.)
- Steve Belichick former fullback and father of Patriots, and Browns head coach Bill Belichick
- Wellington Mara Owner of the New York Giants
- Bob Tisch Owner of the New York Giants
- Hank Stram
First regular season game played outside the United States
The 2005 season also featured the first ever regular season game played outside the United States when a San Francisco 49ers – Arizona Cardinals game was played at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on October 2 (the Cardinals won 31–14). The game drew an NFL regular season record of 103,467 paid fans. It was a home game for the Cardinals, mostly because the team rarely sold out at their then-home field, Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. This season was the last year that the Cardinals played at Sun Devil Stadium; the team then moved to their new Cardinals Stadium in nearby Glendale.
Effect of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season
Effect of Hurricane Katrina
Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina to the Louisiana Superdome and the greater New Orleans area, the New Orleans Saints’ entire 2005 home schedule was played at different venues while the Saints set up temporary operations in San Antonio, Texas. The Saints’ first home game scheduled for September 18 against the New York Giants was moved to September 19 at Giants Stadium, where the Giants won 27–10. The impromptu “Monday Night doubleheader” with the game already scheduled (Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys) was a success, and was made a permanent part of the schedule the next year when Monday Night Football made the move to ESPN.
As a result of the unscheduled doubleheader, the NFL designated its second weekend, September 18 and 19, as “Hurricane Relief Weekend’, with fund raising collections at all of the league's games. The Saints’ remaining home games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio and Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Being forced to travel to 13 of their 16 games (only 3 of their games were actually played in the same city where they practiced) and practice in substandard facilities and conditions in San Antonio, the Saints finished 3–13, their worst season since 1999.
The last time an NFL franchise had to play at an alternate site was in 2002, when the Chicago Bears played home games in Champaign, Illinois, 120 miles (200 km) away, due to the reconstruction of Soldier Field. The last NFL team to abandon their home city during a season was the hapless 1952 Dallas Texans, whose franchise was returned to the league after drawing several poor crowds at the Cotton Bowl. They played their final “home” game at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio, against the Bears on Thanksgiving; the Texans stunned the Bears, 27–23, in front of a crowd estimated at 3,000, for their only win of the season.
Effect of Hurricane Wilma
The Sunday, October 23 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins at Dolphins Stadium was rescheduled to Friday, October 21 at 7:00 pm EDT to beat Hurricane Wilma's arrival to the Miami, Florida area. The Chiefs won the game, 30–20, and became the first visiting team to travel and play on the same day. Since the game was planned for Sunday afternoon, it is one of the few times in history that the Dolphins wore their road jerseys in a home game played at night.
Final regular season standings
- Cincinnati finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC North based on better division record (5–1 to 4–2).
- Baltimore finished ahead of Cleveland in the AFC North based on better division record (2–4 to 1–5).
- Tampa Bay finished ahead of Carolina in the NFC South based on better division record (5–1 to 4–2).
- Chicago clinched the NFC's #2 seed instead of Tampa Bay or the N.Y. Giants based on better conference record (10–2 to Buccaneers’ 9–3 and Giants’ 8–4).
- Tampa Bay clinched the NFC's #3 seed instead of the N.Y. Giants based on better conference record (9–3 to 8–4).
Within each conference, the four division winners and the two wild card teams (the top two non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The four division winners are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams are seeded 5 and 6. The NFL does not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any round. In the first round, dubbed the wild-card playoffs or wild-card weekend, the third-seeded division winner hosts the sixth seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosts the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference then receive a bye in the first round. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosts the worst surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5, or 6), while the number 2 seed will play the other team (seed 3, 4, or 5). The two surviving teams from each conference's divisional playoff games then meet in the respective AFC and NFC Conference Championship games, hosted by the higher seed. Although the Super Bowl, the fourth and final round of the playoffs, is played at a neutral site, the designated home team is based on an annual rotation by conference.
|1||Indianapolis Colts (South winner)||Seattle Seahawks (West winner)|
|2||Denver Broncos (West winner)||Chicago Bears (North winner)|
|3||Cincinnati Bengals (North winner)||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (South winner)|
|4||New England Patriots (East winner)||New York Giants (East winner)|
|5||Jacksonville Jaguars (wild card)||Carolina Panthers (wild card)|
|6||Pittsburgh Steelers (wild card)||Washington Redskins (wild card)|
|Jan. 8 – Giants Stadium||Jan. 15 – Soldier Field|
|4||NY Giants||0||Jan. 22 – Qwest Field|
|Jan. 7 – Raymond James Stadium||5||Carolina||14|
|Jan. 14 – Qwest Field|
|3||Tampa Bay||10||Feb. 5 – Ford Field|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan. 8 – Paul Brown Stadium||N1||Seattle||10|
|Jan. 15 – RCA Dome|
|6||Pittsburgh||31||Super Bowl XL|
|3||Cincinnati||17||Jan. 22 – Invesco Field at Mile High|
|Jan. 7 – Gillette Stadium||6||Pittsburgh||34|
|Jan. 14 – Invesco Field at Mile High|
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player/Team||Date/Opponent||Previous Record Holder|
|Longest Return of a Missed Field Goal/
Longest Play in NFL History
|Nathan Vasher, Chicago (108 yards)||November 13, vs. San Francisco||Chris McAlister, Baltimore vs. Denver, September 30, 2002 (107 yards)|
|Most Consecutive Games Played, Career||Jeff Feagles, New York Giants||November 27, at Seattle||Jim Marshall, 1960–1979 (282)|
|Most Touchdowns, Season||Shaun Alexander, Seattle (28)||N/A||Priest Holmes, Kansas City, 2003 (27)|
|Most Field Goals, Season||Neil Rackers, Arizona (40)||N/A||Tied by 2 players (39)|
|Most Field Goals by a Team, Season||Arizona (43)||N/A||Tied by 2 teams (39)|
|Points scored||Seattle Seahawks (452)|
|Total yards gained||Kansas City Chiefs (6,192)|
|Yards rushing||Atlanta Falcons (2,546)|
|Yards passing||Arizona Cardinals (4,437)|
|Fewest points allowed||Chicago Bears (202)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4,444)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||San Diego Chargers (1,349)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Green Bay Packers (2,680)|
|Scoring||Shaun Alexander, Seattle (168 points)|
|Touchdowns||Shaun Alexander, Seattle (28 TDs) *|
|Most field goals made||Neil Rackers, Arizona (40 FGs) *|
|Rushing yards||Shaun Alexander, Seattle (1,880 yards)|
|Rushing touchdowns||Shaun Alexander, Seattle (27 TDs) *|
|Passer rating||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (104.1 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Carson Palmer, Cincinnati (32 TDs)|
|Passing yards||Tom Brady, New England (4,110 yards)|
|Receptions||Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona and Steve Smith, Carolina (103 catches)|
|Receiving yards||Steve Smith, Carolina (1,563 yards)|
|Receiving touchdowns||Steve Smith, Carolina, and Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (12 TDs)|
|Punt returns||Reno Mahe, Philadelphia (12.8 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Terrence McGee, Buffalo (30.2 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Ty Law, New York Jets and Deltha O'Neal, Cincinnati (10)|
|Punting||Brian Moorman, Buffalo and Shane Lechler, Oakland (45.7 average yards)|
|Sacks||Derrick Burgess, Oakland (16)|
|* — Denotes new league record.|
|Most Valuable Player||Shaun Alexander, Running Back, Seattle|
|Coach of the Year||Lovie Smith, Chicago|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Shaun Alexander, Running Back, Seattle|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Brian Urlacher, Linebacker, Chicago|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Carnell Williams, Running Back, Tampa Bay|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Shawne Merriman, Linebacker, San Diego|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Tedy Bruschi, Linebacker, New England|
Steve Smith, Wide Receiver, Carolina (tie)
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Hines Ward, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh|
- Most points scored: Seattle, 452
- Fewest points scored: Cleveland, 232
- Most total offensive yards: Kansas City, 6,192
- Fewest total offensive yards: San Francisco, 3,587
- Most total passing yards: Arizona, 4,437
- Fewest total passing yards: San Francisco, 1,898
- Most rushing yards: Atlanta, 2,546
- Fewest rushing yards: Arizona, 1,138
- Fewest points allowed: Chicago, 202
- Most points allowed: Houston, 431
- Fewest total yards allowed: Tampa Bay, 4,444
- Most total yards allowed: San Francisco, 6,259
- Fewest passing yards allowed: Green Bay, 2,680
- Most passing yards allowed: San Francisco, 4,427
- Fewest rushing yards allowed: San Diego, 1,349
- Most rushing yards allowed: Houston, 2,303
|Quarterback||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis|
|Running back||Shaun Alexander, Seattle|
Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants
|Fullback||Mack Strong, Seattle|
|Wide receiver||Steve Smith, Carolina|
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati
|Tight end||Antonio Gates, San Diego|
|Offensive tackle||Walter Jones, Seattle|
Willie Anderson, Cincinnati
|Offensive guard||Steve Hutchinson, Seattle|
Brian Waters, Kansas City
Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh
|Center||Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis|
|Defensive end||Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis|
Osi Umenyiora, N.Y. Giants
|Defensive tackle||Jamal Williams, San Diego|
Richard Seymour, New England
|Outside linebacker||Lance Briggs, Chicago|
Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay
|Inside linebacker||Brian Urlacher, Chicago|
Al Wilson, Denver
|Cornerback||Champ Bailey, Denver|
Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay
|Safety||Bob Sanders, Indianapolis|
Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh
|Kicker||Neil Rackers, Arizona|
|Punter||Brian Moorman, Buffalo|
|Kick returner||Jerome Mathis, Houston|
- Cleveland Browns – Romeo Crennel; replaced interim head coach Terry Robiskie who replaced Butch Davis. Davis resigned after 11 games during the 2004 season.
- Miami Dolphins – Nick Saban; replaced interim head coach Jim Bates who replaced Dave Wannstedt who resigned during the 2004 season.
- San Francisco 49ers – Mike Nolan; replaced Dennis Erickson who was fired following the 2004 season.
The New Orleans Saints played in Baton Rouge’s Tiger Stadium for four games and in San Antonio's Alamodome for three games due to Louisiana Superdome damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Tiger Stadium's goalposts did not conform to NFL standards due to (a) two supports instead of one and (b) white paint instead of gold. The NFL granted the Saints dispensation to keep LSU's goalposts in place for their games.
In addition, with the RCA and Edward Jones domes both removing their AstroTurf surfaces in favor of the newer next-generation FieldTurf surface, the old first-generation AstroTurf surface ceased to be used in the NFL.
Pro Player Stadium was renamed Dolphins Stadium. Pro Player's parent Fruit of the Loom had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in 1999, and the Pro Player label was discontinued, but that stadium name was kept for several more years.
- The Arizona Cardinals unveiled a new uniform design featuring trim lines to the outside shoulders, sleeves, and sides of the jerseys and pants. The cardinal helmet logo was also redesigned to be more aggressive.
- The Buffalo Bills added a third alternative uniform: their 1960s throwbacks with the white helmets and red standing bison logo.
- The Detroit Lions added black third alternate uniforms.
- The New York Giants changed their white jerseys to mimic the team's design used in the 1950s. When they last made major changes in 2000, the Giants only modified their blue jerseys to the 1950s look while keeping many of the 1980s elements on their white jerseys, such as the 1980s blue collars instead of the 1950s white collars and red shoulder stripe design.
- The St. Louis Rams began wearing navy pants with their white jerseys for selected games.
This marked the final season that ABC held the rights to televise Monday Night Football after thirty-six years of airing the series. When the TV contracts were renewed near the end of the season, the rights to broadcast Monday Night Football were awarded to Disney-owned corporate sibling ESPN. NBC bought the right to televise Sunday Night Football, marking the first time that the network broadcast NFL games since Super Bowl XXXII in 1998. Meanwhile, CBS and Fox renewed their television contracts to the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference packages, respectively.
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- "Records". 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. NFL. 2005. ISBN 1-932994-36-X.
- Pro-Football-Reference.com: 2005 NFL Standings, Team & Offensive Statistics
- Pro-Football-Reference.com: 2005 NFL Opposition & Defensive Statistics
- "NFL announces new prime-time TV packages". NFL.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2005.
- "NFL to remain on broadcast TV". NFL.com. Archived from the original on December 4, 2005. Retrieved December 13, 2005.
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- "NFL turns down proposal on 'down by contact'". NFL.com. May 24, 2005. Archived from the original on February 15, 2006. Retrieved March 29, 2006.