|Duration||September 5 – December 30, 2002|
|Start date||January 4, 2003|
|AFC Champions||Oakland Raiders|
|NFC Champions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Super Bowl XXXVII|
|Date||January 26, 2003|
|Site||Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California|
|Champions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Date||February 2, 2003|
The 2002 NFL season was the 83rd regular season of the National Football League.
The league went back to an even number of teams with the addition of the Houston Texans; the league has remained static with 32 teams since. The clubs were realigned into eight divisions, four teams in each. Also, the Chicago Bears played their home games in 2002 in Champaign, Illinois at Memorial Stadium because of the reconstruction of Soldier Field.
The NFL title was won by Tampa Bay when they defeated Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California on January 26, 2003. It would be the last Super Bowl held in January and the last to be hosted in San Diego.
With the Houston Texans joining the NFL, the teams were realigned into eight divisions: four teams in each division and four divisions in each conference. The league tried to maintain historical rivalries from the old alignment while organizing the teams geographically. Legally, three teams from the AFC Central (Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh) were required to be in the same division as part of any realignment proposals; this was part of the NFL's settlement with the city of Cleveland in the wake of the 1995 Cleveland Browns relocation controversy.
The major changes were:
Additionally, the arrival of the Texans meant that the league could return to its pre-1999 scheduling format in which no team received a bye during the first three weeks or last seven weeks of the season. From 1999 to 2001, at least one team sat out each week (including the preseason) because of an odd number of teams in the league (this also happened in 1960, 1966, and other years wherein the league had an odd number of teams). It nearly became problematic during the previous season due to the September 11 attacks, since the San Diego Chargers had their bye week during that week and the league considered cancelling that week's slate of games before ultimately rescheduling them after Week 17.
The league also introduced a new eight-year scheduling rotation designed so that all teams will play each other at least twice during those eight years, and play in every other team's stadium at least once. Under scheduling formulas in use from 1978 to 2001, there were several instances of two teams in different divisions going over 15 seasons without playing each other. [ citation needed ]Under the new scheduling formula, only two of a team's games each season are based on the previous season's record, down from four under the previous system. All teams play four interconference games. An analysis of win percentages in 2008 showed a statistical trend upwards for top teams since this change; the top team each year then averaged 14.2 wins, versus 13.4 previously.
The playoff format was also modified from the one first used in 1990: the number of playoff teams remained the same at 12, but four division winners and two wild cards from each conference advanced to the playoffs, instead of three division winners and three wild cards. In each conference, the division winners were now seeded 1 through 4, and the wild cards were seeded 5 and 6. The only way a wild card team could host a playoff game was if both teams in the conference's championship game were wild cards. This 2002 revised format lasted until 2019. In 2020, the number of playoff teams expanded to 14, and the number of wild card teams went back to three.
The 2002 NFL Draft was held from April 20 to 21, 2002 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Houston Texans selected quarterback David Carr from Fresno State University.
The 2002 NFL expansion draft was held on February 18, 2002. 155 players were left unprotected by their teams for the Houston Texans to select to fill their initial roster. With the first overall pick, the Texans selected offensive tackle Tony Boselli from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Also, with the opening of the NFL's first stadium with a retractable roof, Reliant Stadium, the following rules were enacted:
This rule was amended in 2015 to allow a roof to be opened or closed at halftime, at the home team's discretion.
Within each conference, the four division winners and the two wild card teams (the top two non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The four division winners are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams are seeded 5 and 6. The NFL does not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any round. In the first round, dubbed the wild-card playoffs or wild-card weekend, the third-seeded division winner hosts the sixth seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosts the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference then receive a bye in the first round. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosts the worst surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5, or 6), while the number 2 seed will play the other team (seed 3, 4, or 5). The two surviving teams from each conference's divisional playoff games then meet in the respective AFC and NFC Conference Championship games, hosted by the higher seed. Although the Super Bowl, the fourth and final round of the playoffs, is played at a neutral site, the designated home team is based on an annual rotation by conference.
|1||Oakland Raiders (West winner)||Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)|
|2||Tennessee Titans (South winner)||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (South winner)|
|3||Pittsburgh Steelers (North winner)||Green Bay Packers (North winner)|
|4||New York Jets (East winner)||San Francisco 49ers (West winner)|
|5||Indianapolis Colts (wild card)||New York Giants (wild card)|
|6||Cleveland Browns (wild card)||Atlanta Falcons (wild card)|
|Jan 5 – Heinz Field||Jan 11 – The Coliseum|
|3||Pittsburgh||36||Jan 19 – Network Associates Coliseum|
|Jan 4 – Giants Stadium||2||Tennessee||24|
|Jan 12 – Network Associates Coliseum|
|4||NY Jets||41||Jan 26 – Qualcomm Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan 5 – Candlestick Park||A1||Oakland||21|
|Jan 12 – Raymond James Stadium|
|5||NY Giants||38||Super Bowl XXXVII|
|4||San Francisco||39||Jan 19 – Veterans Stadium|
|Jan 4 – Lambeau Field||2||Tampa Bay||27|
|Jan 11 – Veterans Stadium|
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player/team||Date/opponent||Previous record holder|
|Most pass receptions, season||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (143)||December 29, vs. Jacksonville||Herman Moore, Detroit, 1995 (123)|
|Longest return of a missed field goal||Chris McAlister, Baltimore (107 yards)||September 30, vs. Denver||Aaron Glenn, N.Y. Jets vs. Indianapolis, November 15, 1998 (104)|
|Yards from scrimmage, career||Jerry Rice, Oakland (21,284)||September 29, vs. Tennessee||Walter Payton, 1975–1987 (21,264)|
|Most rushing yards gained, career||Emmitt Smith, Dallas||October 27, vs. Seattle||Walter Payton, 1975–1987 (16,726)|
|Most rushing yards by a quarterback, game||Michael Vick, Atlanta (173)||December 1 vs. Minnesota||Tobin Rote, Green Bay vs. Chicago, November 18, 1951 (150)|
|Most first downs by both teams, game||Seattle (32) vs. Kansas City (32) [64 total]||November 24||Tied by 2 games (62 total)|
|Fewest fumbles by a team, season||Kansas City (7)||N/A||Cleveland, 1959 (8)|
|Fewest fumbles lost by a team, season||Kansas City (2)||N/A||Tied by 2 teams (3)|
|Most punts by a team, season||Houston (116)||N/A||Chicago, 1981 (114)|
|Points scored||Kansas City Chiefs (467)|
|Total yards gained||Oakland Raiders (6,237)|
|Yards rushing||Minnesota Vikings (2,507)|
|Yards passing||Oakland Raiders (4,475)|
|Fewest points allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (196)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4,044)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Pittsburgh Steelers (1,375)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,490)|
|Scoring||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (144 points)|
|Touchdowns||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (24 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Martin Gramatica, Tampa Bay (32 FGs)|
|Rushing||Ricky Williams, Miami (1,853 yards)|
|Passing||Rich Gannon, Oakland Raiders (4,689 yards)|
|Passing touchdowns||Tom Brady, New England (28 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (143 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1,722)|
|Punt returns||Jimmy Williams, San Francisco (16.8 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||MarTay Jenkins, Arizona (28.0 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Brian Kelly, Tampa Bay (8)|
|Punting||Todd Sauerbrun, Carolina (45.5 average yards)|
|Sacks||Jason Taylor, Miami (18.5)|
|Most Valuable Player||Rich Gannon, quarterback, Oakland|
|Coach of the Year||Andy Reid, Philadelphia|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Priest Holmes, running back, Kansas City|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Derrick Brooks, linebacker, Tampa Bay|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Clinton Portis, running back, Denver|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Julius Peppers, defensive end, Carolina|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Tommy Maddox, quarterback, Pittsburgh|
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Troy Vincent, cornerback, Philadelphia|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Dexter Jackson, safety, Tampa Bay|
This section needs additional citations for verification .(December 2018)
Reebok took over the contract to be the official athletic supplier to the NFL for all 32 teams’ uniforms. Previously, all teams had individual contracts with athletic suppliers. American Needle, which had a contract with a few teams before the Reebok deal, challenged the NFL in court over Reebok's exclusive deal, with the NFL effectively stating that it was a “single-entity league” instead of a group consisting of various owners. The case eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2009, the Supreme Court agreed to hear American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League . In 2010, the court ruled that the NFL is not a single entity.Reebok remained the league's athletic supplier through the 2011 NFL season, when Nike took over the contract for the 2012 NFL season.
Reebok had initially announced when the deal was signed in 2000 that aside from the expansion Texans, all NFL teams would be wearing new uniforms for the 2002 season. However, after protests from several owners—most vocally Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney—Reebok later rescinded the proposal. Reebok did, however (by player request to reduce holding calls), shorten the sleeves on the jerseys for teams that hadn't done so already (most players had been for the previous decade tying the sleeves tight around their arms to prevent holding) and made the jerseys tighter-fitting. This is perhaps most noticeable on the Indianapolis Colts jerseys, where the shoulder stripes, which initially went from the top of the shoulders all the way underneath the arms, were truncated to just the top portion of the shoulders.
Although Reebok rescinded the idea of all NFL teams wearing new uniforms for the 2002 season, the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks did redesign their uniforms, with the Seahawks also unveiling an updated logo in honor of their move to Seahawks Stadium and the NFC.
This was the fifth year under the league's eight-year broadcast contracts with ABC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN to televise Monday Night Football , the AFC package, the NFC package, and Sunday Night Football , respectively.
This was the first season since 1980 without a Pat Summerall–John Madden lead broadcast team. Although Summerall had previously announced his retirement as a full-time NFL broadcaster after the 2001 season ended, he continued to call selected games for Fox in 2002. Meanwhile, ABC hired Madden from Fox to join Al Michaels in a two-man booth, dropping the network's experiment with Micheals, Dan Fouts, and comedian Dennis Miller on MNF.
Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Cris Collinsworth replaced Summerall and Madden as Fox's new lead broadcast team. The network opted to leave Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnston as Fox's #2 team in a two-man booth, and not find a replacement for Aikman there. To replace Collinsworth on Fox NFL Sunday , the network initially used a rotating series of guest analysts before Jimmy Johnson took over the seat permanently midway through the season.
Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino joined The NFL Today as analysts, while Randy Cross went back to color commentating for CBS, Mike Ditka left the program, and Jerry Glanville was a reserve color commentator from 2002-2003.
The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta. The Falcons compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) South division. The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team, after the NFL offered then-owner Rankin Smith a franchise to keep him from joining the rival American Football League (AFL).
The Seattle Seahawks are a professional American football team based in Seattle. The Seahawks compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) West, which they rejoined in 2002 as part of a conference realignment. The club entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1976 in the NFC. From 1977 to 2001, Seattle was assigned to the American Football Conference (AFC) West. They have played their home games at Lumen Field in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood since 2002, having previously played home games in the Kingdome (1976–1999) and Husky Stadium. The Seahawks are currently coached by Pete Carroll.
The NFC Championship Game is the annual championship game of the National Football Conference (NFC) and one of the two semifinal playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the world. The game is played on the last Sunday in January by the two remaining playoff teams, following the NFC postseason's first two rounds. The NFC champion then advances to face the winner of the AFC Championship Game in the Super Bowl.
The American Football Conference – Western Division or AFC West is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The division comprises the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers.
The National Football Conference – Eastern Division or NFC East is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It currently has four members: the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Washington Commanders.
The 2004 NFL season was the 85th regular season of the National Football League.
The 2005 NFL season was the 86th regular season of the National Football League.
The 2003 NFL season was the 84th regular season of the National Football League (NFL).
The 2001 NFL season was the 82nd regular season of the National Football League (NFL), and the second season of the 21st century. The league permanently moved the first week of the regular season to the weekend following Labor Day. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the NFL's week 2 games were postponed and rescheduled to the weekend of January 6 and 7, 2002. To retain the full playoff format, all playoff games, including Super Bowl XXXVI, were rescheduled one week later. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, defeating the St. Louis Rams 20–17 at the Louisiana Superdome.
The 2000 NFL season was the 81st regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl XXXV when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants, 34–7, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while construction of a new stadium in Nashville started. Houston would rejoin the NFL with the expansion Texans in 2002.
The 1996 NFL season was the 77th regular season of the National Football League and the season was marked by notable controversies from beginning to end. Most significantly, the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy resulted in a then-unique legal settlement where the Cleveland Browns franchise, history, records, and intellectual property remained in Cleveland, while its players and personnel transferred to Baltimore, technically to a new league franchise that was named the Baltimore Ravens.
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 : the AFC Central (Jaguars) and the NFC West (Panthers).
The 1988 NFL season was the 69th regular season of the National Football League. The Cardinals relocated from St. Louis, Missouri to the Phoenix, Arizona area becoming the Phoenix Cardinals but remained in the NFC East division. The playoff races came down to the regular season's final week, with the Seattle Seahawks winning the AFC West by one game, and the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers winning their respective divisions in a five-way tie, with the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants losing the NFC Wild Card berth to the Los Angeles Rams on tiebreakers.
The 1986 NFL season was the 67th regular season of the National Football League. Defending Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears shared the league’s best record with the Giants at 14–2, with the Giants claiming the spot in the NFC by tiebreakers. In the AFC, the Cleveland Browns earned home-field advantage with a record of 12–4, and they hosted the New York Jets in round one of the AFC playoffs. The Jets had started the season at 10–1 before losing their final five contests. The game went to double OT, with the Browns finally prevailing 23–20. The following Sunday, John Elway and the Denver Broncos defeated the Browns by an identical score in a game known for The Drive, where Elway drove his team 98 yards to send the game to overtime to win. The Giants would defeat their rival Washington Redskins in the NFC title game, blanking them 17–0 to advance to their first Super Bowl. The season ended with Super Bowl XXI when the New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos 39–20 at the Rose Bowl to win their first league title in 30 years.
The 1982 NFL season was the 63rd regular season of the National Football League. A 57-day-long players' strike reduced the 1982 season from a 16-game schedule per team to an abbreviated nine game schedule. Because of the shortened season, the NFL adopted a special 16-team playoff tournament; division standings were ignored for seeding. Eight teams from each conference were seeded 1–8 based on their regular season records. Two teams qualified for the playoffs despite losing records. The season ended with Super Bowl XVII when the Washington Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins 27–17 at the Rose Bowl stadium.
The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.
The 1976 NFL season was the 57th regular season of the National Football League. The league expanded to 28 teams with the addition of Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This fulfilled one of the conditions agreed to in 1966 for the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, which called for the league to expand to 28 teams by 1970 or soon thereafter.
The 2006 NFL season was the 87th regular season of the National Football League. Regular season play was held from September 7 to December 31, 2006.
The 2010 NFL season was the 91st regular season of the National Football League and the 45th of the Super Bowl era.