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2004 NFL season

2004 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 9, 2004 – January 2, 2005
Start date January 8, 2005
AFC Champions New England Patriots
NFC Champions Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl XXXIX
Date February 6, 2005
Site ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
Champions New England Patriots
Pro Bowl
Date February 13, 2005
Site Aloha Stadium

The 2004 NFL season was the 85th regular season of the National Football League.

With the New England Patriots as the defending league champions, regular season play was held from September 9, 2004 to January 2, 2005. Hurricanes forced the rescheduling of two Miami Dolphins home games: the game against the Tennessee Titans was moved up one day to Saturday, September 11 to avoid oncoming Hurricane Ivan, while the game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 26 was moved back 7½ hours to miss the eye of Hurricane Jeanne.

The playoffs began on January 8, and eventually New England repeated as NFL champions when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Super Bowl championship game, at ALLTEL Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6.


  • Major rule changes 1
  • 2004 NFL Changes 2
  • Final regular season standings 3
  • Playoffs 4
  • Bracket 5
  • Milestones 6
  • Statistical leaders 7
    • Team 7.1
    • Individual 7.2
  • Awards 8
  • External links 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11

Major rule changes

  • Due to several incidents during the 2003 NFL season, officials are authorized to penalize excessive celebration. The 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will be marked off from the spot at the end of the previous play or, after a score, on the ensuing kickoff. If the infraction is ruled flagrant by the officials, the player(s) are ejected.
  • Due to several instances during the 2003–04 playoffs, officials are instructed to strictly enforce illegal contact, pass interference, and defensive holding.
  • Timeouts can be called by head coaches.
  • In addition to the numbers 80–89, wide receivers will now be allowed to use numbers 10–19.
  • A punt or missed field goal that is untouched by the receiving team is immediately dead once it touches either the end zone or any member of the kicking team in the end zone. Previously, a punt or missed field goal that lands in the end zone before being controlled by the kicking team could be picked up by a member of the receiving team and immediately run the other way.
  • Teams will be awarded a third instant replay challenge if their first two are successful. Previously, teams were only limited to two regardless of what occurred during the game.
  • The one-bar facemask was officially outlawed. The few remaining players who still used the one-bar facemask at the time were allowed to continue to use the style until they left the league under a grandfather clause.

2004 NFL Changes

The NFC West champions Seattle on offense against San Francisco, week 3

Coaching changes

Final regular season standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green. No ties occurred this year.

AFC East
(2) New England Patriots 14 2 .875 437 260
(5) New York Jets [b] 10 6 .625 333 261
Buffalo Bills 9 7 .563 395 284
Miami Dolphins 4 12 .250 275 354
AFC North
(1) Pittsburgh Steelers 15 1 .938 372 251
Baltimore Ravens 9 7 .563 317 268
Cincinnati Bengals 8 8 .500 374 372
Cleveland Browns 4 12 .250 276 390
AFC South
(3) Indianapolis Colts [a] 12 4 .750 522 351
Jacksonville Jaguars 9 7 .563 261 280
Houston Texans 7 9 .438 309 339
Tennessee Titans 5 11 .312 344 439
AFC West
(4) San Diego Chargers 12 4 .750 446 313
(6) Denver Broncos 10 6 .625 381 304
Kansas City Chiefs 7 9 .438 483 435
Oakland Raiders 5 11 .312 320 442
NFC East
(1) Philadelphia Eagles 13 3 .813 386 260
New York Giants [e] 6 10 .375 303 347
Dallas Cowboys [f] 6 10 .375 293 405
Washington Redskins 6 10 .375 240 265
NFC North
(3) Green Bay Packers 10 6 .625 424 380
(6) Minnesota Vikings [d] 8 8 .500 405 395
Detroit Lions 6 10 .375 296 350
Chicago Bears 5 11 .312 231 331
NFC South
(2) Atlanta Falcons 11 5 .688 340 337
New Orleans Saints 8 8 .500 348 405
Carolina Panthers 7 9 .438 355 339
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 11 .312 301 304
NFC West
(4) Seattle Seahawks 9 7 .563 371 373
(5) St. Louis Rams [c] 8 8 .500 319 392
Arizona Cardinals 6 10 .375 284 322
San Francisco 49ers 2 14 .125 259 452
  • a Indianapolis clinched the AFC #3 seed instead of San Diego based on better head-to-head record (1–0).
  • b N.Y. Jets clinched the AFC #5 seed instead of Denver based on better record in common games (5–0 to 3–2).
  • c St. Louis clinched the NFC #5 seed instead of Minnesota or New Orleans based on better conference record (7–5 to Minnesota's 5–7 to New Orleans' 6–6).
  • d Minnesota clinched the NFC #6 seed instead of New Orleans based on better head-to-head record (1–0).
  • e N.Y. Giants finished ahead of Dallas and Washington in the NFC East based on better head-to-head record (3–1 to Dallas' 2–2 to Washington's 1–3).
  • f Dallas finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better head-to-head record (2–0).


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.

Playoff seeds
1 Pittsburgh Steelers (North winner) Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)
2 New England Patriots (East winner) Atlanta Falcons (South winner)
3 Indianapolis Colts (South winner) Green Bay Packers (North winner)
4 San Diego Chargers (West winner) Seattle Seahawks (West winner)
5 New York Jets (wild card) St. Louis Rams (wild card)
6 Denver Broncos (wild card) Minnesota Vikings (wild card)

The Miami Dolphins were the first team to be eliminated from the playoff race, having reached a 1-9 record by week 11.[1]


Jan. 9 – RCA Dome   Jan. 16 – Gillette Stadium          
 6  Denver  24
 3  Indianapolis  3
 3  Indianapolis  49     Jan. 23 – Heinz Field
 2  New England  20  
Jan. 8 – Qualcomm Stadium  2  New England  41
Jan. 15 – Heinz Field
   1  Pittsburgh  27  
 5  N.Y. Jets  20* AFC Championship
 5  N.Y. Jets  17
 4  San Diego  17   Feb. 6 – Alltel Stadium
 1  Pittsburgh  20*  
Wild Card Playoffs  
Divisional Playoffs
Jan. 8 – Qwest Field  A2  New England  24
Jan. 15 – Georgia Dome
   N1  Philadelphia  21
 5  St. Louis  27 Super Bowl XXXIX
 5  St. Louis  17
 4  Seattle  20     Jan. 23 – Lincoln Financial Field
 2  Atlanta  47  
Jan. 9 – Lambeau Field  2  Atlanta  10
Jan. 16 – Lincoln Financial Field
   1  Philadelphia  27  
 6  Minnesota  31 NFC Championship
 6  Minnesota  14
 3  Green Bay  17  
 1  Philadelphia  27  

* Indicates overtime victory


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

Record Player/Team Date/Opponent Previous Record Holder[2]
Longest Interception Return Ed Reed, Baltimore (106 yards) November 7, at Cleveland Tied by 2 players (103)
Most Touchdown Passes, Season Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (49) N/A Dan Marino, Miami, 1984 (48)
Highest Passer Rating, Season Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (121.1) Steve Young, San Francisco, 1994 (112.8)
Most Interception Return Yards Gained, Season Ed Reed, Baltimore (358) Charlie McNeil, San Diego, 1961 (349)
Most First Downs by a Team, Season Kansas City (398) Miami, 1994 (387)
Most Consecutive Games Won New England October 24, vs. N.Y. Jets Chicago, 1933–34 (17)
Most Passing Touchdowns by a Team, Season Indianapolis (51) N/A Miami, 1984 (49)

The Colts led the NFL with 522 points scored. The Colts tallied more points in the first half of each of their games of the 2004 NFL season (277 points) than seven other NFL teams managed in the entire season.[3] Despite throwing for 49 touchdown passes, Peyton Manning attempted fewer than 500 passes for the first time in his NFL career.[4] The San Francisco 49ers record 420 consecutive scoring games that had started in Week 5 of the 1977 season ended in Week 2 of the season.

Statistical leaders


Points scored Indianapolis Colts (522)
Total yards gained Kansas City Chiefs (6,695)
Yards rushing Atlanta Falcons (2,672)
Yards passing Indianapolis Colts (4,623)
Fewest points allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (251)
Fewest total yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (4,134)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (1,299)
Fewest passing yards allowed Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,579)
Playoff chasers the New York Jets against Miami in 2004, week 8 MNF


Scoring Adam Vinatieri, New England (141 points)
Touchdowns Shaun Alexander, Seattle (20 TDs)
Most field goals made Adam Vinatieri, New England (31 FGs)
Passing Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota (4717 yards)
Passing Touchdowns Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (49 TDs)
Passer Rating Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (121.1 rating)
Rushing Curtis Martin, New York Jets (1,697 yards)
Rushing Touchdowns LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (17 TDs)
Receptions Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (102)
Receiving yards Muhsin Muhammad, Carolina (1,405)
Punt returns Eddie Drummond, Detroit (13.2 average yards)
Kickoff returns Willie Ponder, New York Giants (26.9 average yards)
Interceptions Ed Reed, Baltimore (9)
Punting Shane Lechler, Oakland (46.7 average yards)
Sacks Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis (16)


Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis
Coach of the Year Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego
Offensive Player of the Year Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis
Defensive Player of the Year Ed Reed, Safety, Baltimore
Offensive Rookie of the Year Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Pittsburgh
Defensive Rookie of the Year Jonathan Vilma, Linebacker, New York Jets
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Drew Brees, Quarterback, San Diego

External links

  • Football Outsiders 2004 Team Efficiency Ratings


  1. ^ "An 0-10 start will do that to you". USA Today. 
  2. ^ "Records". 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. NFL. 2005.  
  3. ^ Numbelivable!, p.35, Michael X. Ferraro and John Veneziano, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0
  4. ^ Numbelivable!, p.146, Michael X. Ferraro and John Veneziano, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0


  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 2001– (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
  • Celebration penalty among rules changes (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
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