|Duration||September 4 – December 28, 2003|
|Start date||January 3, 2004|
|AFC Champions||New England Patriots|
|NFC Champions||Carolina Panthers|
|Super Bowl XXXVIII|
|Date||February 1, 2004|
|Site||Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|Champions||New England Patriots|
|Date||February 8, 2004|
The 2003 NFL season was the 84th regular season of the National Football League (NFL).
Regular-season play was held from September 4, 2003, to December 28, 2003. Due to damage caused by the Cedar Fire, Qualcomm Stadium was used as an emergency shelter, and thus the Miami–San Diego regular-season match on October 27 was instead played at Sun Devil Stadium, the home field of the Arizona Cardinals. This was the first season in NFL history where every team won at least 4 games.
The playoffs began on January 3, 2004. The NFL title was won by the Patriots when they defeated the Panthers, in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, on February 1.
This was the last season until the 2016 NFL season where neither of the previous Super Bowl participants made the playoffs.
The 2003 NFL Draft was held from April 26 to 27, 2003 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected quarterback Carson Palmer from the University of Southern California.
Dick Hantak and Bob McElwee retired in the 2003 off-season. Hantak joined the league as a back judge (the position title was changed to field judge in 1998) in 1978, and was assigned Super Bowl XVII in that position. He was promoted to referee in 1986, working Super Bowl XXVII. McElwee joined the NFL in 1976 as a line judge, and became a referee in 1980. He was the referee for three Super Bowls: XXII, XXVIII, and XXXIV. Walt Anderson and Pete Morelli were promoted to referee to replace Hantak and McElwee.
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||New England Patriots (East winner)||Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs (West winner)||St. Louis Rams (West winner)|
|3||Indianapolis Colts (South winner)||Carolina Panthers (South winner)|
|4||Baltimore Ravens (North winner)||Green Bay Packers (North winner)|
|5||Tennessee Titans (wild card)||Seattle Seahawks (wild card)|
|6||Denver Broncos (wild card)||Dallas Cowboys (wild card)|
|Jan 3 – Bank of America Stadium||Jan 10 – Edward Jones Dome|
|3||Carolina||29||Jan 18 – Lincoln Financial Field|
|Jan 4 – Lambeau Field||3||Carolina||14|
|Jan 11 – Lincoln Financial Field|
|4||Green Bay||33*||Feb 1 – Reliant Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan 4 – RCA Dome||N3||Carolina||29|
|Jan 11 – Arrowhead Stadium|
|6||Denver||10||Super Bowl XXXVIII|
|3||Indianapolis||41||Jan 18 – Gillette Stadium|
|Jan 3 – M&T Bank Stadium||3||Indianapolis||14|
|Jan 10 – Gillette Stadium|
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player or team||Date/opponent||Previous record holder|
|Most touchdowns, season||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (27)||December 28, vs. Chicago||Marshall Faulk, St. Louis, 2000 (26)|
|Most rushing yards gained, game||Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (295)||September 14, vs. Cleveland||Corey Dillon, Cincinnati vs. Denver, October 22, 2000 (278)|
|Most consecutive field goals||Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis||December 28, at Houston||Gary Anderson, 1997–98 (40)|
|Most consecutive road games lost||Detroit Lions||December 21, vs. Carolina||Houston Oilers, 1981–84 (23)|
|Most consecutive games with a sack||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (69)||November 9, 2003||Dallas Cowboys (68)|
|Points scored||Kansas City Chiefs (484)|
|Total yards gained||Minnesota Vikings (6,294)|
|Yards rushing||Baltimore Ravens (2,674)|
|Yards passing||Indianapolis Colts (4,179)|
|Fewest points allowed||New England Patriots (238)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (4,056)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Tennessee Titans (1,295)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (2,631)|
|Scoring||Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis (163 points)|
|Touchdowns||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (27 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis (39 FGs)|
|Rushing||Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2,066 yards)|
|Passing||Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (4,267 yards)|
|Passing touchdowns||Brett Favre, Green Bay (32 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Torry Holt, St. Louis (117 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Torry Holt, St. Louis (1,696)|
|Pass receiving touchdowns||Randy Moss, Minnesota (17 touchdowns)|
|Punt returns||Dante Hall, Kansas City (16.3 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Jerry Azumah, Chicago (29.0 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Brian Russell, Minnesota and Tony Parrish, San Francisco (9)|
|Punting||Shane Lechler, Oakland (46.9 average yards)|
|Sacks||Michael Strahan, New York Giants (18.5)|
|Most Valuable Player||Peyton Manning, quarterback, Indianapolis and Steve McNair, quarterback, Tennessee Titans (As of 2022, this is the most recent season without a unanimous MVP)|
|Coach of the Year||Bill Belichick, New England|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Jamal Lewis, running back, Baltimore|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Ray Lewis, linebacker, Baltimore|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Anquan Boldin, wide receiver, Arizona|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Terrell Suggs, linebacker, Baltimore|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Jon Kitna, quarterback, Cincinnati|
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Will Shields, guard, Kansas|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Tom Brady, quarterback, New England|
In addition new turf was installed for the following teams:
This was the sixth 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.
At Fox, Tony Siragusa joined Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnston on the network's #2 broadcast team in a sideline analyst role instead of the traditional sideline reporter.
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