Craig: NFL scoring soars, with no end in sight

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2013 - 11:27 AM

More than a century’s worth of rule changes have merged with today’s exceptional skill players to form the perfect storm of NFL point production.

With two weeks left in the 2013 season, the NFL is averaging 47.5 points per game. The record is 46.5, set in 1948, when there were 10 teams playing a 12-game schedule.

“It’s starting to feel like if you don’t score a touchdown every time you get the ball, you’re losing serve,” Vikings left guard Charlie Johnson said. “I know with us [Sunday], that was the emphasis. It wasn’t an indictment of our defense, either. That’s just how the Eagles had been playing. Like a lot of teams have been playing.”

The Vikings scored 48 points. The Eagles scored 30 and became one of a record five teams to reach that many points and lose in the same week.

An NFL record for most points in a single day (763) was set Sunday. Six days earlier, the record for most touchdowns in a single week (90) was set.

“I know the NFL says scoring is well-liked among fans,” Johnson said. “So I don’t think high scores are going anywhere. It may get worse. It may get to the point where it starts looking like Arena Football.”

To understand where the league is going, let’s look at where professional football has been. The American Professional Football Association was formed in 1920 and changed its name to the National Football League in 1922. But pro football dates to 1892, when the Allegheny Athletic Association paid William “Pudge” Heffelfinger $500 to play a game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club.

Oct. 25, 1906: Massillon’s George Parratt took advantage of that year’s new rule by completing the first forward pass to Dan Riley in a victory over Benwood-Moundsville.

Feb. 25, 1933: Capitalizing on innovations made necessary from having to play the 1932 title game indoors, the NFL adopted the first hash marks and legalized passing from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Previously, passes had to be made more than 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

1945: Hashmarks were moved from 15 to 20 yards from the sidelines. In 1972, they were moved to 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches.

April 25, 1974: Penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of hands and tripping were reduced from 15 to 10 yards.

1977: The head slap, a favorite weapon on pass rushers, was outlawed.

March 17, 1978: A huge day in the evolution of scoring. Rule changes limited contact with receivers to within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, and permitted pass blockers to extend their arms and open their hands.

March 16, 1979: Quarterbacks got extra protection with the passing of the “in the grasp” rule.

1980: Greater restrictions were placed on contact in the area of the head and neck.

March 22, 1994: Roughing-the-passer rules are strengthened.

March 24, 2010: Protection for defenseless players was expanded to protect a player who has just completed a catch from blows to the head or neck by an opponent who launches. A fear of going over the middle starts to disappear.

With 10,631 points through 14 games, the NFL is on pace for 12,150 for the year. Not only did that set a record for the third consecutive season, it also shattered last year’s mark by 794 points.

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 12/27/14 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
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(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
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(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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