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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Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
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Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
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Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
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Ole Miss 71
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South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
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Cal State Fullerton 72
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Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
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Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
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Drake 102
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Howard 48
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UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
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South Dakota 115
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USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
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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 Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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