- Finishing 3-13 in two consecutive seasons led to the dismissal of Jim Mora in Indianapolis. Colts GM Bill Polian replaced him with Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz, one of the hottest candidates thanks to a valiant Super Bowl run that just fell short.
- After a disastrous 3-13 season in the wake of the infamous Ricky Williams trade, Mike Ditka was fired as the head coach of the Saints. He was replaced by Steelers defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
- An embarrassing 62-7 blowout in Jacksonville led to not only the retirement of Dan Marino, but also the resignation of Jimmy Johnson. Former Bears head coach Dave Wannstedt was tabbed to replace Johnson.
- Despite retiring from football for a second time, former Giants, Patriots & Jets head coach Bill Parcells was lured back into the game by Jerry Jones of the Cowboys, who had decided to fire Chan Gailey. The retirement of Troy Aikman due to concussions was believed to trigger a fresh start in Jones’s mind, and as a result Parcells brought in Vinny Testaverde for veteran help, after playing in Indianapolis last season to sub for an ineffective Ryan Leaf.
It was a defensive minded top of the draft, with Penn State’s Courtney Brown joining the Browns as the first overall pick, followed by a pair of linebackers: another Penn State defender in LaVar Arrington went 2nd overall to the Redskins from a pick they acquired in the Ricky Williams trade; and then New Mexico’s Brian Urlacher went 3rd overall to the Colts. Washington moved up again to 4th overall to get Alabama tackle Chris Samuels, while the biggest shocker was the Oakland Raiders using a top ten pick on a kicker, Sebastian Janikowski of Florida State. The only quarterback taken in the first round was Marshall’s Chad Pennington, selected 18th overall by the Cowboys as a possible successor to Aikman.
- Ravens 27, Dolphins 0
- Saints 31, Rams 28
- Packers 24, Eagles 20
- Broncos 17, Steelers 0
Defense and running games dominated the weekend in the AFC, with both the Ravens and Broncos cruising to shutout wins. Both teams kept their seasons going behind dominating running games despite shaky quarterback situations. The Ravens were led by Offensive Rookie of the Year Jamal Lewis getting handoffs from both Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer, while the Broncos were led by NFL MVP Terrell Davis (becoming the first RB since Jim Brown to win the award more than once) despite mixed performances by Gus Frerotte and Moses Moreno, who both also started in games in 1999.
Meanwhile, the NFC side featured the first playoff game between the coaches that had switched teams in 1999 in Jon Gruden and Andy Reid. Both had the Packers and Eagles well prepared, with Green Bay coming out on top at home with a typical Brett Favre touchdown pass needled into heavy coverage.
- Vikings 34, Saints 16
- Broncos 31, Jets 20
- Ravens 24, Titans 10
- Giants 20, Packers 10
In the most hyped game of the divisional round, the Broncos got revenge for 1998 as a dominant performance by Terrell Davis kept Peyton Manning on the sidelines for much of the game, ending the Jets’ run as two time defending champions.
- Giants 41, Vikings 0
- Ravens 35, Broncos 3
Blowouts ruled the day in the most lopsided pair of championship games in NFL history. The Vikings’ offense was completely hapless against the Giants’ defense led by Michael Strahan, while the Ravens’ defense focused on shutting down Terrell Davis and forced Gus Frerotte into throwing four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns.
Super Bowl XXXV
- Ravens 34, Giants 7