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.

  • related content

  • Mark Craig's Week 16 Power Rankings

    Tuesday December 17, 2013

    Week 16 Power RankingsNote: A snapshot of where teams stand right NOW. These rankings officially expire at 11:59.59999 a.m. Central...

  • Read the replay: Access Vikings Live Chat with Mark Craig

    Monday September 9, 2013

    See what football writer Mark Craig was talking about with Vikings fans during their noon-hour Live Chat.

  • Saints, Patriots on Vikings' 2014 schedule

    Tuesday December 17, 2013

    The Vikings will play teams from the AFC East and NFC South next season ... and their NFC North foes twice each. They'll also face Washington and St. Louis.

  • Rand: Meet Toby Gerhart the ... dairy farmer?

    Wednesday December 18, 2013

    The family of huge Vikings fans got to hang out with Gerhart — and he, in turn, got to meet their 100-plus cows and calves up close.

  • The Minnesota Vikings beat the Philadelphia Eagles 48 - 30 in an NFL f...

  • Jason Avant’s 16-yard touchdown reception against the Vikings was part of a 30-point effort by Philadelphia that wasn’t nearly enough as the Vikings rolled 48-30. The Eagles became one of a record five teams to reach 30 points and lose in the same week.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
Washington 3
LA Angels 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
Texas 6
Oakland 6 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Indiana 107 FINAL
Milwaukee 111
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Carolina 5
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Washington 3
Los Angeles 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 4 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 2
Nashville 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
NY Rangers 5 FINAL
Ottawa 1
Florida 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
Montreal 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Colorado 4 FINAL
Vancouver 1
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
North Carolina 72 FINAL
Wisconsin 79
Evansville 89 FINAL
Louisiana 82
West Virginia 39 FINAL
Kentucky 78
Xavier 60 FINAL
Arizona 68
St Johns 55 FINAL
Villanova 63
NC State 79 FINAL
Temple 80
Missouri 55 FINAL
Michigan 65
Oral Roberts 64 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Duquesne 39 FINAL
West Virginia 60
Ole Miss 70 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 82
Northern Colorado 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 69
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters



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 NoonX13-9




question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question