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The 2006 season of the National Football League (NFL) was the 87th season played by the major professional American football league in the United Statesmarker. Regular season play was held from September 7 to December 31, 2006. The NFL title was eventually won by the Indianapolis Colts when they defeated the Chicago Bears; the Super Bowl championship game, at Dolphin Stadiummarker in Miami Gardensmarker, Floridamarker on February 4.


The was the first season that the NFL used a "flexible-scheduling" for the last few weeks of the season, allowing the league flexibility in selecting games to air on Sunday night, in order to feature the current hottest, streaking teams. This was implemented to prevent games featuring losing teams from airing during primetime late in the season, while at the same time allowing surprise, playoff-potential teams a chance to play at night.

Under the flexible-scheduling system, all Sunday games in the affected weeks tentatively had the start times of 12 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, except those played in the Pacific or Mountain time zones, which will have a tentative start time of 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT (or 4:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. PT if it is a doubleheader weekend). On the Tuesday 12 days before the games, the league moved one game to the primetime slot, and possibly one or more 1 p.m. slotted games to the 4 p.m. slots. During the last week of the season, the league could re-schedule games as late as six days before the contests so that all of the television networks will be able to broadcast a game that has playoff implications.


This was the first season that NBC held the rights to televise Sunday Night Football, becoming the beneficiaries of the new flexible-scheduling system. ESPN became the new home of Monday Night Football, replacing sister network American Broadcasting Company, who chose to opt out of broadcasting league games. Meanwhile, CBS and Fox renewed their television contracts to the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference packages, respectively.

Coaching changes

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

AFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(4) New England Patriots 12 4 0 .750 385 237 Details
(5) New York Jets 10 6 0 .625 316 295 Details
Buffalo Bills 7 9 0 .436 300 311 Details
Miami Dolphins 6 10 0 .375 260 283 Details
AFC North
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(2) Baltimore Ravens 13 3 0 .813 353 201 Details
Cincinnati Bengals 8 8 0 .500 373 331 Details
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 8 0 .500 353 315 Details
Cleveland Browns 4 12 0 .250 238 356 Details
AFC South
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(3) Indianapolis Colts 12 4 0 .750 427 360 Details
Tennessee Titans 8 8 0 .500 324 400 Details
Jacksonville Jaguars 8 8 0 .500 371 274 Details
Houston Texans 6 10 0 .375 267 366 Details
AFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(1) San Diego Chargers 14 2 0 .875 492 303 Details
(6) Kansas City Chiefs 9 7 0 .562 331 315 Details
Denver Broncos 9 7 0 .562 319 305 Details
Oakland Raiders 2 14 0 .125 168 332 Details
NFC East
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(3) Philadelphia Eagles 10 6 0 .625 398 328 Details
(5) Dallas Cowboys 9 7 0 .562 425 350 Details
(6) New York Giants 8 8 0 .500 355 362 Details
Washington Redskins 5 11 0 .313 307 376 Details
NFC North
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(1) Chicago Bears 13 3 0 .812 427 255 Details
Green Bay Packers 8 8 0 .500 301 366 Details
Minnesota Vikings 6 10 0 .375 282 327 Details
Detroit Lions 3 13 0 .188 305 398 Details
NFC South
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(2) New Orleans Saints 10 6 0 .625 413 322 Details
Carolina Panthers 8 8 0 .500 270 305 Details
Atlanta Falcons 7 9 0 .438 292 328 Details
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 12 0 .250 211 353 Details
NFC West
Team W L T PCT PF PA  
(4) Seattle Seahawks 9 7 0 .562 335 341 Details
St. Louis Rams 8 8 0 .500 367 381 Details
San Francisco 49ers 7 9 0 .438 298 412 Details
Arizona Cardinals 5 11 0 .312 314 389 Details

Source: 2007 NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 978-1933821856)

  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC North based on division record (4-2 to 3-3).
  • Tennessee finished ahead of Jacksonville in the AFC South based on division record (4-2 to 2-4).
  • Kansas City finished ahead of Denver in the AFC West based on division record (4-2 to 3-3).
  • Indianapolis clinched the AFC #3 seed based on their head-to-head victory over New England (Week 9).
  • New Orleans clinched the NFC #2 seed based on their head-to-head victory over Philadelphia (Week 6).
  • N.Y. Giants clinched the NFC #6 seed based on better strength of victory than Green Bay (.422 to .383), while Carolina and St. Louis both were eliminated from playoff contention because the N.Y. Giants and Green Bay had better conference records (7-5 to 6-6).


Home team in capitals


  • Wild-Card playoffs: Indianapolis 23(Win), Kansas City 8; New England 37(Win), N. Y. Jets 16
  • Divisional playoffs: Indianapolis 15(Win), Baltimore 6; New England 24(Win), San Diego 21
  • AFC Championship: Indianapolis 38(Win), New England 34


  • Wild-Card playoffs: Seattle 21(Win), Dallas 20; Philadelphia 23(Win), N. Y. Giants 20
  • Divisional playoffs: New Orleans 27(Win), Philadelphia 24; Chicago 27(Win), Seattle 24 (OT)
  • NFC Championship: Chicago 39(Win), New Orleans 14

Super Bowl

Pro Bowl

News and notes

Major rule changes

  • End zone celebrations became more restricted. Players cannot celebrate by using any type of prop, or do any act in which they are on the ground. Players may still spike, spin the ball, or dunk it over the goal posts. Dancing in the end zone is also permitted as long as it is not a prolonged or group celebration. The Lambeau Leap, though, is still legal.
  • Defenders were prohibited from hitting a passer in the knee or below unless they are blocked into him. This rule was enacted in response to the previous season's injuries to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Brian Griese.
  • Down-by-contact calls could now be reviewed by instant replay to determine if a player fumbled the ball before he was down, and who recovered it. Previously, these plays could not be reversed once officials blew the whistle.
  • The "horse-collar tackle" rule enacted during the previous 2005 season was expanded. Players are now prohibited from tackling a ball carrier from the rear by tugging inside his jersey. Previously, it was only illegal if the tackler's hand got inside the player's shoulder pads.
  • To reduce injuries, defensive players cannot line up directly over the long snapper during field goal and extra point attempts.

Officials' uniform makeover

The 2006 season marked the debut of new officiating uniforms which are supposed to be more comfortable for officials to wear in extreme weather over the old polyester uniforms. The uniforms were designed by Reebok using a proprietary material technology to keep officials both warm and dry during the winter months of the season. On the shirt, the position and number are removed from the front pocket and the lettering and numbers on the back side were black-on-white and are smaller print and the sleeve shows the uniform number. Officials also wore full-length black pants with white stripe during the winter months to stay warm, which was criticized by media and internet board posters. This was the first major design overhaul since 1979, when the position name was added to the shirt, but later abbreviated in 1982.

New NFL commissioner

On March 20, 2006, Paul Tagliabue announced his plans to retire as NFL commissioner.During an NFL meeting in Northbrook, Illinois, on August 8, 2006, league team owners selected Roger Goodell, the NFL's then-current chief operating officer, as the new commissioner. Tagliabue continued to serve as NFL commissioner until Goodell officially replaced him on Friday September 1.

Tagliabue became NFL commissioner on October 26, 1989. During his tenure, the league has added four new teams; saw four franchises move (including two franchises---the Rams and Raiders---from Los Angelesmarker, the second-largest television market in the U.S.); the construction of seventeen new stadiums; began its own in-house television specialty cable network, the NFL Network; has greatly increased television rights fees with its broadcasters, including the addition of the Fox network; and has maintained labor peace with the players' union.

Return of "The Duke" football

For the first time since Super Bowl IV at the conclusion of the 1969 season, the official NFL game ball was known as "The Duke" in honor of Wellington Mara, whose family owns the New York Giants. Son John is the current CEO of the team. The NFL first used "The Duke" ball in honor of Mara in 1941 after then-Chicago Bears owner George Halas and then-Giants owner Tim Mara (Wellington's father) made a deal with Wilson Sporting Goods to become the league's official supplier of game balls, a relationship that continued into its' sixty-fifth year in 2006.

"The Duke" ball was discontinued after the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger, and the merged league began using a different standardized ball made by Wilson. The only other time that "The Duke" ball name was used was during the two Thanksgiving Classic games in 2004.

One side of the new 2006 "Duke" football featured the NFL shield logo in gold, the words "The Duke", and the NFL commissioner's signature. The obverse side has a small NFL logo above the needle bladder hole, the conference names between the hole, and the words "National Football League" in gold. As per the custom, specially branded balls were used for the first week of the 2006 season ("Opening Kickoff"), Thanksgiving Classic, conference championships, Super Bowl XLI and Pro Bowl games.

Unprecedented sell-outs

Through week 11 of the season, all NFL games had been sold out, and for the 24th time, all blackout restrictions had been lifted. The streak was ended by the Jacksonville at Buffalo game in Week 12.

Saints go home

The New Orleans Saints returned to their home at the Louisiana Superdomemarker in Week Three. The Saints played home games during the 2005 NFL Season in San Antonio, TX, Baton Rouge, LA, and East Rutherford, NJ, due to the damage to the Superdome caused by Hurricane Katrina. The Saints finished the regular season 10–6,clinched a 1st Round Bye, and beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. TheChicago Bears defeated the Saints in the NFC Championship, 39–14.

Game highlights on iTunes

Starting September 18, fans were able to download highlights of their teams' games through Apple Computer's iTunes Store online service. Each video costs US$1.99 each but fans have the chance of buying a "Follow Your Team season ticket" which brings every game of that team to the fan for $24.99.

Also available will be NFL GameDay, the NFL Network's comprehensive Sunday night review which features post-game reactions and game analysis, all for $1.99 a show or $19.99 for the full season.

Death of Lamar Hunt

Lamar Hunt died in Dallasmarker, Texasmarker on December 13 from complications from prostate cancer at the age of 74. He is credited with challenging the NFL with the formation of the American Football League, which led to the subsequent merger of the two leagues.

Death of two Broncos

At 3 a.m. on January 1, 2007, Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was shot and killed in Denver, within hours after the last regular season game against the San Francisco 49ers. Less than two months after, on February 24, 2007, Broncos running back Damien Nash collapsed and died after a charity basketball game at a high school. Both players died at the age of 24.


The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the regular season:

Record Player/Team Date/Opponent Previous Record Holder
Most Points, Career Morten Andersen, Atlanta December 16 vs. Dallas Gary Anderson, 1982-2004 (2,434)
Most Field Goals, Career Morten Andersen, Atlanta December 24 vs. Carolina Gary Anderson, 1982-2004 (538)
Most Passes Completed, Career Brett Favre, Green Bay December 17 vs. Detroit Dan Marino, 1983-1999 (4,967)
Most Touchdowns, Season LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (31) N/A Shaun Alexander, Seattle, 2005 (28)
Most Rushing Touchdowns, Season LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (28) N/A Shaun Alexander, 2005
Priest Holmes, 2003 (27)
Most Rushing Attempts, Season Larry Johnson, Kansas City (416) December 31 vs. Jacksonville Jamal Anderson, Atlanta, 1998 (410)
Most Kick Returns for a Touchdown, Season Devin Hester, Chicago (5; 3 punts and 2 kickoffs) N/A Tied by 9 players (4)

Regular season statistical leaders


Points scored San Diego Chargers (492)
Total yards gained New Orleans Saints (6,264)
Yards rushing Atlanta Falcons (2,939)
Yards passing New Orleans Saints (4,503)
Fewest points allowed Baltimore Ravens (201)
Fewest total yards allowed Baltimore Ravens (4,225)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Minnesota Vikings (985)
Fewest passing yards allowed Oakland Raiders (2,413)


Scoring LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (186 points)
Touchdowns LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (31 TDs)
Most field goals made Robbie Gould, Chicago and Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis (32 FGs)
Rushing LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (1,815 yards)
Passer rating Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (101.0 rating)
Passing touchdowns Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (31 TDs)
Passing yards Drew Brees, New Orleans (4,418 yards)
Pass receptions Andre Johnson, Houston (103 catches)
Pass receiving yards Chad Johnson, Cincinnati (1,369 yards)
Punt returns Adam "Pacman" Jones, Tennessee (12.9 average yards)
Kickoff returns Justin Miller, New York Jets (28.3 average yards)
Interceptions Asante Samuel, New England and Champ Bailey, Denver (10)
Punting Mat McBriar, Dallas (48.2 average yards)
Sacks Shawne Merriman, San Diego (17)


Most Valuable Player LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
Coach of the Year Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Offensive Player of the Year LaDainian Tomlinson, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor, Defensive End, Miami Dolphins
Offensive Rookie of the Year Vince Young, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans
Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans, Linebacker, Houston Texans
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Chad Pennington, Quarterback, New York Jets

All-Pro Team
Quarterback Drew Brees, New Orleans
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego
Larry Johnson, Kansas City
Fullback Lorenzo Neal, San Diego
Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati
Tight end Antonio Gates, San Diego
Offensive tackle Willie Anderson, Cincinnati
Jammal Brown, New Orleans
Offensive guard Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh
Shawn Andrews, Philadelphia
Center Olin Kreutz, Chicago

Special teams
Kicker Robbie Gould, Chicago
Punter Brian Moorman, Buffalo
Kick returner Devin Hester, Chicago



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