- Another high profile college head coach decided to return to the NFL, with national champion LSU coach Nick Saban hired by the Dolphins following the resignation of Dave Wannstedt.
- Browns head coach Butch Davis also resigned, and his replacement would be Jets defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.
- The only head coach to be fired was Herm Edwards after a 4-12 season in Kansas City. The Chiefs elected to replace Edwards with former Vikings head coach Dennis Green.
The Cardinals held the first overall pick due to the loss of Michael Vick to an ACL tear in the preseason harpooning their 2004 season. Not in the need of a quarterback, they auctioned off their top pick in a trade to teams that did need one, as the Patriots, picking 2nd overall also due to an ACL injury that knocked LaDainian Tomlinson out for the year, were widely expected to groom a replacement for longtime starter Drew Bledsoe. Despite fierce competition from the Bears in the 6th overall position, the Cardinals elected to trade with the Chiefs at 3rd overall, receiving Kansas City’s 1st round pick in 2006 and 2nd round pick in 2007 as compensation.
Now holding the first overall selection, the Chiefs decided to go with Utah quarterback Alex Smith. Many observers felt that the Chiefs had stolen away the Patriots’ preferred choice, and were then forced to settle for California’s Aaron Rodgers at #2. The Cardinals then selected Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle at #3, a player that many felt was worthy of being selected first overall anyway.
Unlike in 2004, there were very few other high profile trades. The only two that occurred on draft day were the Raiders getting an additional first round pick from the Packers in order to get the speedy Fabian Washington out of Nebraska (to pair with the also speedy Cadillac Williams of Auburn the Raiders took 7th overall), and the Redskins once again trading with the Super Bowl champion Broncos in a deal involving quarterbacks; the Redskins sent Rex Grossman to the Broncos to move up three spots to #32 to take Auburn’s Jason Campbell. (The Broncos would go local at #35 with Northern Colorado’s Vincent Jackson.)
- Giants 17, Falcons 6
- Jets 23, Patriots 0
- 49ers 41, Bears 7
- Jaguars 20, Steelers 10
Wild Card weekend featured three games in which three rookie quarterbacks took their teams to the playoffs. Unfortunately, all three of those rookies suffered dominating losses. Matt Schaub of the Falcons suffered the most sacks in a playoff game against the ferocious Giants pass rush of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Shawne Merriman. Offensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Rodgers of the Patriots, who surprisingly beat out Drew Bledsoe as the starter in training camp, was confounded for the third time by Bill Belichick and the Jets, this time in an embarrassing shutout loss. And the unheralded Kyle Orton may have led the Bears to a title in a weak division, but he had no hope in matching the usual stellar effort put together by Tom Brady and Terrell Owens, especially when Orton was pick sixed twice by Quentin Jammer.
But the fourth game turned out highly controversial, as Jaguars rookie Daryl Smith knocked out Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a low hit with what was discovered to be a torn ACL that will put the start of his 2006 season in question. Without Roethlisberger, the Steelers were hopeless in countering the reborn Jaguars defense under Jack Del Rio.
- Seahawks 20, 49ers 16
- Jets 28, Colts 23
- Broncos 20, Jaguars 7
- Buccaneers 31, Giants 17
The latest installment in the increasingly bitter rivalry between the 49ers and Seahawks saw Seattle get revenge for getting knocked out by San Francisco last year, with Matt Hasselback particularly on point with over 350 yards passing. Also in a rematch, for the second straight year Peyton Manning outdueled Kurt Warner to send the Jets back to the AFC championship game. Despite getting revenge on his former team by defeating them in the regular season of both 2004 and 2005 in Jacksonville, Jake Plummer was given a rude welcome in his first game back in Denver, as he threw four interceptions in a solid Broncos victory. And Drew Brees continued to prove that he is one of the rising elite quarterbacks in the league by having a perfect passer rating in a victory over the Giants.
- Broncos 27, Jets 13
- Seahawks 24, Buccaneers 20
For the second straight year in the AFC Championship game, Mike Shanahan outdueled Bill Belichick on the sidelines in sending the Broncos back to the Super Bowl, punctuated by the longest interception in playoff history by Champ Bailey for 102 yards, with only Peyton Manning having any scant hope in knocking him out of bounds. An interception also decided the NFC Championship game in favor of the Seahawks, as a Drew Brees end zone pass intended for TJ Houshmanzadeh was tipped by Marcus Trufant and hauled in by Marquand Manuel.
Super Bowl XL
In an unexpected defensive slugfest, neither Tony Romo nor Matt Hasselbeck had a good day, with neither throwing for a touchdown and both throwing multiple interceptions. But when it was all said and done, the field position battle, and the game, was won by the Broncos, as they set themselves up for more scoring attempts via Jason Elam field goals. While a few argued that Elam should have been the game’s MVP, the title instead went to Champ Bailey, who had one of the strongest postseasons by a defensive player in recent memory.