The 1995 NFL season was the 76th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded to 30 teams with the addition of the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two expansion teams were slotted into the two remaining divisions that previously had only four teams (while the other four had five teams): the AFC Central (Jaguars) and the NFC West (Panthers).
Meanwhile, the two teams in Los Angeles relocated to other cities: the Rams transferred to St. Louis (but would return to Los Angeles in 2016) and the Raiders moved back to Oakland; this would be the start of a 20-year absence for the NFL in Los Angeles. During the course of the season it emerged that the Cleveland Browns would relocate to Baltimore for the 1996 season. The Raiders' move was not announced until after the schedule had been announced, which resulted in a problem in the third week of the season when both the Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers had games scheduled to air on NBC which ended up overlapping each other. The Raiders game was rescheduled for 10:00 AM PDT in case they were to relocate and NBC was given the doubleheader so that both Bay Area teams had their games televised locally.
The season ended with Super Bowl XXX, when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 at the Sun Devil Stadium. They became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years. This season was legendary Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula's last season as coach.
Major rule changes
- An eligible receiver forced out of bounds by a defensive player may return to the field and automatically become eligible to legally be the first player to touch a forward pass.
- Quarterbacks may now receive communications from the bench from a small radio receiver in their helmets, partly repealing a rule that had been in force since 1956.
Mike Carey and Walt Coleman were promoted to referee. Dale Hamer had to sit out the 1995 season to recover from open heart surgery, while league expansion from 28 to 30 teams required an additional officiating crew.
Final regular season standings
- Indianapolis finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
- San Diego was the first AFC Wild Card based on head-to-head victory over Indianapolis (1-0).
- Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston in the AFC Central based on better division record (4-4 to Oilers' 3-5).
- Seattle finished ahead of Denver and Oakland in the AFC West based on best head-to-head record (3-1 to Broncos' 2-2 and Raiders' 1-3).
- Denver finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
- Philadelphia was the first NFC Wild Card ahead of Detroit based on better conference record (9-3 to Lions' 7-5).
- San Francisco was the second NFC playoff seed ahead of Green Bay based on better conference record (8-4 to Packers' 7-5).
- Atlanta was the third NFC Wild Card ahead of Chicago based on better record against common opponents (4-2 to Bears' 3-3).
- St. Louis finished ahead of Carolina and New Orleans in the NFC West based on best head-to-head record (3-1 to Panthers' 1-3 and Saints' 2-2).
- Carolina finished ahead of New Orleans in the NFC West based on better conference record (4-8 to 3-9).
||San Francisco 49ers (457)
|Total yards gained
||Detroit Lions (6,113)
||Kansas City Chiefs (2,222)
||San Francisco 49ers (4,608)
|Fewest points allowed
||Kansas City Chiefs (241)
|Fewest total yards allowed
||San Francisco 49ers (4,398)
|Fewest rushing yards allowed
||San Francisco 49ers (1,061)
|Fewest passing yards allowed
||New York Jets (2,740)
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (150 points)
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (25 TDs)
|Most field goals made
||Norm Johnson, Pittsburgh (34 FGs)
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (1,773 yards)
||Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis (100.7 rating)
||Brett Favre, Green Bay (38 TDs)
||Herman Moore, Detroit (123 catches)
|Pass receiving yards
||Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1,848)
||David Palmer, Minnesota (13.2 average yards)
||Ron Carpenter, New York Jets (27.7 average yards)
||Orlando Thomas, Minnesota (9)
||Rick Tuten, Seattle (45.0 average yards)
||Bryce Paup, Buffalo (17.5)
The 1995 season produced four of the top eleven highest single-season totals for receiving yards. The top two receiving yard totals of all time - Jerry Rice's 1,848 & Isaac Bruce's 1,781 - were recorded in 1995. Detroit Lions receiver Herman Moore gained 1,686 yards (6th highest all time) and Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin gained 1,603 yards (11th most in NFL history).
The following players set all-time records during the season:
|Most Touchdowns, season
||Emmitt Smith, Dallas (25)
|Most Passing Attempts, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (6,531 at the end of the season)
|Most Passes Completed, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (3,913 at the end of the season)
|Most Passing Yards, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (48,841 at the end of the season)
|Most Touchdown Passes, career
||Dan Marino, Miami (352 at the end of the season)
|Most Pass Receptions, career
||Jerry Rice, San Francisco (942 at the end of the season)
|Most Pass Receiving Yards Gained, career
||Jerry Rice, San Francisco (15,123 at the end of the season)
|Most Valuable Player
||Brett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay
|Coach of the Year
||Ray Rhodes, Philadelphia
|Offensive Player of the Year
||Brett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay
|Defensive Player of the Year
||Bryce Paup, Linebacker, Buffalo
|Offensive Rookie of the Year
||Curtis Martin, Running Back, New England
|Defensive Rookie of the Year
||Hugh Douglas, Defensive End, New York Jets
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year
||Jim Harbaugh, Quarterback, Indianapolis and Garrison Hearst, Running Back, Arizona
|NFL Man of the Year Award
||Boomer Esiason, Quarterback, NY Jets
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player
||Larry Brown, Cornerback, Dallas
The 1995 NFL Draft was held from April 22 to 23, 1995 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected running back Ki-Jana Carter from Penn State University.