The 1993 NFL season was the 74th regular season of the National Football League. It was the only season in league history where all NFL teams were scheduled to play their 16-game schedule over a span of 18 weeks (the league again played 16 games over 18 weeks in 2001, but this was not planned and instead was caused by the postponement of a week of games due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks). After the success of expanding the regular season to a period of 17 weeks in 1990, the league hoped this new schedule would generate even more revenue. This was also done to avoid scheduling playoff games on January 1 and competing with college football bowl games. However, teams felt that having two weeks off during the regular season was too disruptive for their weekly routines, and thus it reverted to 17 weeks immediately after the season ended.
On March 1, 1993, the current free agent system was introduced to the league.
When new TV contracts were signed in December 1993, CBS lost their rights to broadcasting NFC games to the then seven-year old Fox Network (which had just started up its own sports division), which took effect next season; this ended a 37 year association with the NFL for CBS.
The season ended with Super Bowl XXVIII when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 for the second consecutive season at the Georgia Dome. This remains the only time both Super Bowl participants have been the same in successive seasons. The Cowboys became the first team to win a Super Bowl after losing their first two regular season games. This game also marked the fourth consecutive Super Bowl loss by the Bills.
Major rule changes
- The Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) was reduced from 45 seconds to 40 seconds (the time interval after time outs and other administrative stoppages remained 25 seconds).
- Ineligible receiver down field prior to a forward pass foul was added.
- The passer could now legally throw a pass away, without any offensive player having a chance to catch the ball, as long as they are out of the pocket and the ball lands beyond the line of scrimmage.
- The player taking a snap from the center, upon receiving the ball, can immediately throw the football directly into the ground (i.e. spike) to stop the game clock.
- The NFL added an extra (second) bye week into the season for each team. The extra bye week was removed in 1994.
Ron Blum was promoted to referee to replace Pat Haggerty, who retired after the 1992 season. In 28 seasons in the NFL, Haggerty was selected as the referee Super Bowl XIII in 1979, XVI in 1982, and XIX in 1985.
Final regular season standings
- Buffalo was the top AFC playoff seed based on head-to-head victory over Houston (1-0).
- Denver was the second AFC Wild Card ahead of Pittsburgh and Miami, based on better conference record (8-4 to Steelers' 7-5 to Dolphins' 6-6).
- Pittsburgh was the third AFC Wild Card based on head-to-head victory over Miami (1-0).
- San Francisco was the second NFC playoff seed based on head-to-head victory over Detroit (1-0).
- Minnesota finished ahead of Green Bay in the NFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
* Indicates overtime victory
|Most Valuable Player
||Emmitt Smith, Running Back, Dallas
|Coach of the Year
||Dan Reeves, NY Giants
|Offensive Player of the Year
||Jerry Rice, Wide Receiver, San Francisco
|Defensive Player of the Year
||Rod Woodson, Cornerback, Pittsburgh
|Offensive Rookie of the Year
||Jerome Bettis, Running Back, LA Rams
|Defensive Rookie of the Year
||Dana Stubblefield, Defensive tackle, San Francisco
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year
||Marcus Allen, Running Back, Kansas City
|NFL Man of the Year
||Derrick Thomas, Linebacker, Kansas City
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player
||Emmitt Smith, Running Back, Dallas
The 1993 NFL Draft was held from April 25 to 26, 1993 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe from Washington State University.