1985 NFL Season
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1985 NFL Season

1985 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 8 - December 23, 1985
Start dateDecember 28, 1985
AFC ChampionsNew England Patriots
NFC ChampionsChicago Bears
Super Bowl XX
DateJanuary 26, 1986
SiteLouisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
ChampionsChicago Bears
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 1986
SiteAloha Stadium

The 1985 NFL season was the 66th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XX when the Chicago Bears defeated the New England Patriots 46-10 at the Louisiana Superdome. The Bears became the second team in NFL history (after the previous season's San Francisco 49ers) to win 15 games in the regular season and 18 including the playoffs.

Player movement



  • August 30, 1985: Four-time Super Bowl champion Franco Harris announces his retirement.[1]


The 1985 NFL Draft was held from April 30 to May 1, 1985 at New York City's Omni Park Central Hotel. With the first pick, the Buffalo Bills selected defensive end Bruce Smith from Virginia Tech.

Major rule changes

The Bears making a rushing play in the end zone against the Patriots during Super Bowl XX.
  • Whenever a team time out is called after the two-minute warning of each half or overtime, it should only last a minute instead of 90 seconds.
  • A play is immediately dead anytime the quarterback performs a kneel-down (the quarterback immediately kneels down after receiving the snap) after the two-minute warning of each half, or whenever the player declares himself down by sliding feet first on the ground. The ball is then spotted at the point where the player touches the ground first.
  • Pass interference is not to be called when a pass is clearly uncatchable.
  • Both "Roughing the kicker" and "Running into the kicker" fouls are not to be called if the defensive player was blocked into the kicker.
  • The definition of a valid fair catch signal is clearly defined as one arm that is fully extended above the head and waved from side to side.
  • Goaltending (leaping up to deflect a kick as it passes through the goal posts) is illegal.
  • The officials' uniform changed slightly. Instead of wearing black stirrups with two white stripes over white sanitary hose, the officials began wearing a one-piece sock similar to those worn by players, black with two white stripes on top and solid white on the bottom. These were first worn the previous season in Super Bowl XIX.
  • Defensive backs were ruled to have an "equal right to the ball", meaning that pass interference would not be called if the defensive player was looking back attempting to intercept the ball, and that any contact with the receiver did not materially affect the receiver's ability to catch the ball.

1985 deaths

  • Denver Broncos tight ends coach Fran Polsfoot died on April 5, 1985 after suffering from brain cancer.[2]

Regular season

Scheduling formula

AFC East vs NFC Central
AFC Central vs NFC East
AFC West vs NFC West

Highlights of the 1985 season included:

  • Thanksgiving: Two games were played on Thursday, November 28, featuring the New York Jets at Detroit and the St. Louis Cardinals at Dallas, with Detroit and Dallas winning.

Final standings


Rams' running back Dickerson (29) rushing the ball through the Cowboys' defense in the 1985-86 NFC Divisional Playoffs Game .
  • Los Angeles Raiders were the first AFC seed ahead of Miami based on better record against common opponents (5-1 to Dolphins' 4-2).
  • N.Y. Jets were the first AFC Wild Card based on better conference record (9-3) than New England (8-4) and Denver (8-4).
  • New England was the second AFC Wild Card ahead of Denver based on better record against common opponents (4-2 to Broncos' 3-3).
  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
  • Seattle finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
  • Dallas finished ahead of N.Y. Giants and Washington in the NFC East based on better head-to-head record (4-0 to Giants' 1-3 and Redskins' 1-3).
  • N.Y. Giants were the first NFC Wild Card based on better conference record (8-4) than San Francisco (7-5) and Washington (6-6).
  • San Francisco was the second NFC Wild Card based on head-to-head victory over Washington (1-0).
  • Minnesota finished ahead of Detroit in the NFC Central based on better division record (3-5 to Lions' 2-6).


Jan. 4 - Anaheim Stadium
3 Dallas 0
Dec. 29 - Giants Stadium Jan. 12 - Soldier Field
2 LA Rams 20
5 San Francisco 3 2 LA Rams 0
Jan. 5 - Soldier Field
4 NY Giants 17 1 Chicago 24
NFC Championship
4 NY Giants 0
Jan. 26 - Louisiana Superdome
1 Chicago 21
Divisional playoffs
Wild Card playoffs N1 Chicago 46
Jan. 5 - Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
A5 New England 10
Super Bowl XX
5 New England 27
Dec. 28 - Giants Stadium Jan. 12 - Miami Orange Bowl
1 LA Raiders 20
5 New England 26 5 New England 31
Jan. 4 - Miami Orange Bowl
4 NY Jets 14 2 Miami 14
AFC Championship
3 Cleveland 21
2 Miami 24


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

Most Kick Return Yards, Season Buster Rhymes, Minnesota (1,345)
Most Punt Return Yards, Season Fulton Walker, Miami / Los Angeles Raiders (692)

Statistical leaders


Points scored San Diego Chargers (467)
Total yards gained San Diego Chargers (6,535)
Yards rushing Chicago Bears (2,761)
Yards passing San Diego Chargers (4,870)
Fewest points allowed Chicago Bears (198)
Fewest total yards allowed Chicago Bears (4,315)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Chicago Bears (1,319)
Fewest passing yards allowed Washington Redskins (2,746)


Scoring Kevin Butler, Chicago Bears (151 points)
Touchdowns Joe Morris, New York Giants (21 TDs)
Most field goals made Gary Anderson, Pittsburgh Steelers (33 FGs)
Rushing attempts Gerald Riggs, Atlanta Falcons (397)
Rushing yards Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (1,759 yards)
Rushing touchdowns Joe Morris, New York Giants (21 TDs)
Passes completed Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (336)
Pass attempts John Elway, Denver Broncos (605)
Passing yards Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (4,137 yards)
Passer rating Ken O'Brien, New York Jets (96.2 rating)
Passing touchdowns Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins (30 TDs)
Pass receiving Roger Craig, San Francisco 49ers (92 catches)
Pass receiving yards Steve Largent, Seattle Seahawks (1,287 yards)
Receiving touchdowns Daryl Turner, Seattle Seahawks (13 TDs)
Punt returns Irving Fryar, New England Patriots (14.1 average yards)
Kickoff returns Ron Brown, Los Angeles Rams (32.8 average yards)
Interceptions Everson Walls, Dallas Cowboys (9)
Punting Rohn Stark, Indianapolis Colts (45.9 average yards)
Sacks Richard Dent, Chicago Bears (19.0)


Coaching changes



Uniform changes

  • Due to their unpopularity, the Cleveland Browns removed the striping patterns and number outlines that they introduced in 1984. They returned to their brown and white jerseys, and white pants combination used prior to 1975. Face masks remained white.
  • The Minnesota Vikings switched from white to purple face masks and wore white shoes for the first time.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles replace the sleeve stripes with their "eagle in flight" logo.
  • The San Diego Chargers switched from dark royal blue to navy blue jerseys, and from gold to white pants.


  1. ^ "Franco Harris, 35, Reluctantly Retires. By Associated Press". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ "Briefly Noted". The San Bernardino Sun. San Bernardino, California. April 6, 1986. p. 38. Retrieved 2017 – via Newspapers.com open access.

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