NFL in the 90s. The Golden Years of Football
If you can cast your mind back to what the NFL was like in the 90’s, you can perhaps remember some of the great teams and players of the time, not to mention some of the important milestones as well. Maybe you remember the Dallas Cowboys winning three Super Bowls in four years or when the Denver Broncos won a perfect season in 1998. Of course, there are plenty of memorable player moments too. Like when Dan Marino won the title of the best all-time passing leader. Or when Jerry Rice became all-time leading receiver and touchdown scorer. Maybe you also remember all the great stadiums being built. The 90’s was an excellent time for the NFL. Of course, this was pre-internet, so the NFL spreads weren’t what they are today, with bettors having to stake money on their team in the old fashioned way, but that certainly didn’t have an impact on the drama, which is why we’ve decided to take a nostalgic step back in time to see only the best achievements.
Then and Now. How the NFL has Changed Since the 90s
The 90’s was a successful combination of high performing teams, successful leaders and several new stadiums being built for the NFL, not to mention ones which were refurbished as well. San Francisco was the best performing team at the time, achieving record figures, and winning the Super Bowl XXIX. Dan Marino was praised as the highest-scoring leader with 33,068 passing yards. In the 90’s, 15 stadiums in total were either refurbished or rebuilt. Something which confirms the popularity of the NFL, making it one of the most popular sports in America today.
Of course, there have been loads of memorable games in the history of the NFL. So, with our 90’s theme in mind, here are our favourite games from that era.
- Remember when the New York Giants travelled to San Francisco to go head to head with the 49ers? Joe Montana successfully completed his impressive 23-yard pass to John Taylor for the only touchdown in the game. The overall game rating was 26.9, making it the second-highest in the 30-year history of Monday night football.
- It was 1991, and considering the Golf War was happening, this game certainly had an added air of suspense. In the final few seconds, Scott Norwood just misses the 47-yard field goal, passing the Super Bowl title over to the Giants.
- Early in the third quarter of the AFC wild-card game, Buffalo trails Houston 35-3, scoring five unanswered TD’s and taking a 38-35 lead. Overtime was forced, but the game was eventually won by Steve Christie of the Buffalos. Perhaps one of the best comebacks in the history of the NFL?
- Despite a separated shoulder, Emmitt Smith from Dallas ploughs through the 168 yards, adding an extra sixty-one yards receiving, and an overall 16-13 overtime win over the Giants in 1994.
- Beating Philadelphia 19-14 thanks to Shula’s 325th career win, Don Shula became the NFL’s all-time winningest coach in Miami. Something which started when Baltimore defeated the San Francisco 49ers back in 1963.
- Jerry Rice became an NFL all-time leader when thanks to his third touchdown in a 1994 opening game, surpassing Walter Payton and Jim Brown with a score of 127. After achieving a record-breaking score of 94 later on, Jerry became recognized as a career leader for catches and receiving yards.
- Steve Young, a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, gained the best passer rating in history when passing four seasons along with scores of 101.8, 107, 101.5 and 112.8 between 1991 and 1994.
- He did it again in 1995 when achieving six passes in total in the 49-26 win against San Diego in the Super Bowl XXIL.
- Leon Lett, a Dallas defensive tackle, returns 64 yards from a Buffalo fumble. As he nears the goal line, Don Beebe obliterates the ball from his hand, albeit, a premature celebration from Lett back in 1993.
- In 1994, Tommy Barn, a New Orleans punter, put into the end zone with just over four minutes remaining. Rams punt returner Robert Bailey snatches the ball, sprinting 103 yards for a touchdown attempt and succeeds, making the most extended punt return in the entire history of the NFL.
- In 1996, Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis quarterback, was keen to pass to Aaron Bailey on the final game of the AFC championship. The game falls into the end zone incomplete as Bailey falls to the ground, shattering his attempt to gain the ball’s possession.
- In 1999, Phil Dawson, the Cleveland Browns kicker achieved a fake field goal just four yards from touchdown. In fact, this is the first rushing touchdown achieved for the expanding Browns franchise. The previous touchdown by placekicker was in 1985.
Changes to the Rules
Many changes were seen to NFL rules during the 90s, making the game run smoother and a far fairer contest. Here’s a quick touchdown of the important ones.
If a player goes out of bounds outside the two minutes of the first half or five minutes of the second, the game’s clock begins when the ball is witnessed at the hashmark. The referee must give the ready signal rather than on snap like previously. Another change was also made this year. If a player is deemed to spear, ram or butt another opponent viciously or flagrantly, they will be penalized by losing 15 yards.
Return kicks are eliminated if a dropkick or field goal is attempted behind the line of scrimmage rather than behind or beyond it.
If a passer facing the loss of yardage or out of pocket throws a ball that lands after the line of scrimmage, intentional grounding will not be called, even if no offensive player has had the chance to catch the ball and it becomes out of bounds or over the side or end line.
Kickoffs must be made from the 30-yard line rather than the 35-yard line used previously. The kicking team must only use a one-inch tee.
If a team is trying from the second line after touchdown, they may attempt to score a point through a legal field goal or a couple of points which would usually be an offence on touchdown. If the legal field goal can’t score, the ball becomes dead when the failure occurs. If a touchdown isn’t achieved, another attempt can be made at the end of play or change of possession. Only one point can be allocated on a kick or on what would usually be a touchdown.
If a scrimmage kick goes beyond the scrimmage line by the receiver and the kicker recovers in the receiver end zone, the kicker is awarded the ball at the point of the first touch.
Only in 1999 was a system used where the referee could replay and review the play for specific players before the two-minute warning for each half which could also be done through overtime.
Memorable Games, Unforgettable Players and Rule Changes. Just Some of the Things Shaping the NFL in the 90s
Not to mention the refurbishment or rebuilding of many of its stadiums as well. All of this has definitely paved the way for a better future. Today, it is one of four major North American professional sports leagues and is considered the highest professional level worldwide for American football. Being the wealthiest professional sports league by revenue, it also has the highest average attendance for any professional sports league in the world.