2000–01 NFL playoffs

2000–01 NFL playoffs

The National Football League playoffs for the 2000 season began on December 30, 2000. The postseason tournament concluded with the Baltimore Ravens defeating the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34–7, on January 28, 2001, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

This would be the last time that playoff games would be played at the accustomed times of 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. EST. The following season, the NFL scheduled prime time playoff games for the first two rounds in an attempt to attract more television viewers.

This would be the final season where wild card weekend was held in December. The following year, the league pushed the start of the season back one week (to the weekend after Labor Day), which effectively pushed the start of playoffs one week later (into January).


Within each conference, the three division winners and the three wild card teams (the top three non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The three division winners were seeded 1 through 3 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams were seeded 4 through 6. The NFL did not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there were 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 hosted the sixth seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosted the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference then received a bye in the first round. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosted the worst surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5 or 6), while the number 2 seed played 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, was played at a neutral site, the designated home team was based on an annual rotation by conference.

Playoff seeds
1 Tennessee Titans (Central winner) New York Giants (East winner)
2 Oakland Raiders (West winner) Minnesota Vikings (Central winner)
3 Miami Dolphins (East winner) New Orleans Saints (West winner)
4 Baltimore Ravens Philadelphia Eagles
5 Denver Broncos Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6 Indianapolis Colts St. Louis Rams


Dec. 31 – PSINet Stadium   Jan. 7 – Adelphia Coliseum          
 5  Denver  3
 4  Baltimore  24
 4  Baltimore  21     Jan. 14 – Network Associates Coliseum
 1  Tennessee  10  
Dec. 30 – Pro Player Stadium  4  Baltimore  16
Jan. 6 – Network Associates Coliseum
   2  Oakland  3  
 6  Indianapolis  17 AFC Championship
 3  Miami  0
 3  Miami  23*   Jan. 28 – Raymond James Stadium
 2  Oakland  27  
Dec. 30 – Louisiana Superdome  A4  Baltimore  34
Jan. 6 – Humphrey Metrodome
   N1  NY Giants  7
 6  St. Louis  28 Super Bowl XXXV
 3  New Orleans  16
 3  New Orleans  31     Jan. 14 – Giants Stadium
 2  Minnesota  34  
Dec. 31 – Veterans Stadium  2  Minnesota  0
Jan. 7 – Giants Stadium
   1  NY Giants  41  
 5  Tampa Bay  3 NFC Championship
 4  Philadelphia  10
 4  Philadelphia  21  
 1  NY Giants  20  
* Indicates overtime victory

Wild Card playoffs

December 30, 2000

AFC: Miami Dolphins 23, Indianapolis Colts 17 (OT)

Game summary
1 2 34OTTotal
Colts 3 11 03017
Dolphins 0 0 710623

at Pro Player Stadium, Miami

The Dolphins overcame three first half turnovers as running back Lamar Smith set a playoff record with 40 carries for 209 yards, including the game winning 17-yard touchdown in overtime.

The Colts scored first midway through the first quarter with a 32-yard field goal by kicker Mike Vanderjagt. Miami threatened to score late in the first period, but Indianapolis safety Chad Cota intercepted quarterback Jay Fiedler's pass in the end zone. On the next play, running back Edgerrin James broke off a 34-yard run, but the drive stalled and the Colts had to punt. After that, Colts lineman Chad Bratzke gave his team a great opportunity for a touchdown when he intercepted Fiedler's screen pass at the Dolphins 25-yard line. But Indianapolis could not dent the end zone and had to settle for another field goal from Vanderjagt. However, on Miami's ensuing drive, they committed their third consecutive turnover when Cota picked off another pass and returned it 23 yards to the Dolphins 18-yard line. This time, the Colts managed to get a touchdown with Peyton Manning's 17-yard pass to Jerome Pathon with 7:47 left in the second quarter. Then he completed a 2-point conversion pass to tight end Ken Dilger. Despite their sluggish start, Indianapolis seemed to be in complete control of the game by the end of the first half. In addition to their 14–0 lead, they had held Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler to 5 of 14 completions for 42 yards.

But Fiedler made a major improvement in the second half, completing 14 of 20 passes for 143 yards and rushing for 43. The Dolphins took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 70 yards in 11 plays to score on Smith's 2-yard touchdown run to cut the lead in half. In the fourth quarter, a 19-yard run by Smith set up a 38-yard field goal from Olindo Mare, and the score was cut to 14–10. But Manning led the Colts back, completing a 13-yard pass to Marcus Pollard and an 18-yard pass to Pathon. Then a 16-yard run by James moved the ball into Dolphins territory, and Vanderjagt finished the drive with a 50-yard field goal to give the Colts a 7-point lead. Miami responded with a 14-play, 80-yard scoring drive. With 34 seconds left in regulation, Fiedler's 9-yard touchdown pass to Jed Weaver sent the game into overtime.

The Dolphins won the toss in overtime, but after a holding penalty they were forced to punt, and the Colts then advanced into Miami territory. Faced with a third down and 12 yards to go from the Dolphins 42-yard line, Manning completed an 11-yard pass to Marvin Harrison. The Dolphins were offside on the play, but the Colts elected to take the result of the play and attempt a 49-yard field goal on fourth down to win the game. However, Vanderjagt's kick was wide right. The Dolphins then marched 61 yards in 11 plays, ending with Smith's game winning touchdown.

Manning threw for 197 yards and a touchdown. James rushed for 107 yards and caught 3 passes for 33.

As of 2016, this is the Dolphins' most recent playoff victory.

NFC: New Orleans Saints 31, St. Louis Rams 28

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Rams 7 0 02128
Saints 0 10 71431

at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

The Saints, who had a 3-13 record in the previous season, won their first playoff game in their 34-year history with quarterback Aaron Brooks' 266 passing yards and four touchdowns, and by holding off the defending champion Rams, who scored three touchdowns in the final quarter. Rams quarterback Kurt Warner committed four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble), while running back Marshall Faulk, who shredded the Saints with 220 rushing yards when they played against them in the regular season, was held to a season low of 24 yards on the ground.

St. Louis scored on their first drive, marching 68 yards in 11 plays to take a 7–0 lead with Warner's 17-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce. But New Orleans then scored 31 unanswered points, beginning an 11-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Brooks' 12-yard touchdown pass to Robert Wilson on their ensuing possession. They seemed to suffer a setback when Brooks' 50-yard completion Willie Jackson on their next drive was nullified by Devin Bush's interception a few plays later. But after a few punts, Sammy Knight's 52-yard interception return to the Rams 20-yard line set up kicker Doug Brien's 33-yard field goal to give the Saints a 10–7 lead by halftime.

Early in the third quarter, Chris Oldham's interception gave New Orleans the ball at the Rams 45-yard line, setting up another score on a 10-yard catch by Jackson and increasing their lead to 17–7. Early in the fourth quarter, the Saints drove 74 yards in 5 plays and scored with Brooks' 49-yard touchdown pass to Jackson. Then on the Rams ensuing drive, defensive end Willie Whitehead forced a fumble while sacking Warner that linebacker La'Roi Glover recovered on the Rams 16-yard line, and Brooks threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jackson on the next play, giving the Saints a 31–7 lead with 11:57 remaining.

But St. Louis stormed back. Warner completed two passes to Faulk for 55 yards before throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl, cutting the deficit to 31–13 after a failed 2-point conversion. With 6:28 left in the game, St. Louis had the ball inside the New Orleans 10-yard line but Knight recorded his second interception to halt the drive. However, the Saints were forced to punt and the Rams marched 62 yards on just 3 plays to score on running back Marshall Faulk's 25-yard touchdown reception to make it 31–20 with 3:52 left. Rams cornerback Dre' Bly recovered the ensuing onside kick. Two plays later on third down and 6, Warner completed a 38-yard pass to Az-Zahir Hakim at the Saints 5-yard line and then took the ball into the end zone himself with a 5-yard touchdown run. Faulk's reception on the two-point conversion made it 31–28 with 2:36 left. St. Louis failed to recover their second onside kick attempt but forced New Orleans to punt. However, the punt was muffed by Az-Zahir Hakim, and the Saints' Brian Milne recovered the ball to seal the victory.

Jackson caught 6 passes for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns, tying a playoff record set by Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIX. Warner finished the game with 365 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, but was intercepted 3 times. Bruce caught 7 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown, while Faulk added 7 catches for 99 yards and a score.

The Monday Night Football crew returned to the Superdome a year later to cover a regular season game between these teams, which the Rams won 34–21 – it was their last game as division rivals, as the Saints moved to the NFC South in 2002.

December 31, 2000

AFC: Baltimore Ravens 21, Denver Broncos 3

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Broncos 0 3 003
Ravens 0 14 7021

at PSINet Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

The Ravens defense held the Broncos' offense to only 177 total yards, 42 rushing yards, 9 first downs, and 3 points. Baltimore also recorded five sacks and held running back and Rookie of the Year Mike Anderson, who rushed for 1487 yards during the season, to 40 yards on 15 carries.

Baltimore got an early scoring chance when Ray Lewis intercepted a pass from Denver quarterback Gus Frerotte on the Broncos 39-yard line. But the team could only get to the 34 with six plays and ended up punting. After several punts, Baltimore drove 75 yards in 10 plays, including a 20-yard run by Jamal Lewis, to go up 7-0 on Lewis' 1-yard touchdown run on the last play of the first quarter.

Denver responded as quarterback Gus Frerotte completed four passes for 59 yards on a 68-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal from Jason Elam with 4:31 remaining in the first half to cut the lead 7–3. But on the Ravens' next drive, Trent Dilfer threw a pass that was bobbled by Lewis, then deflected by defensive back Terrell Buckley, and finally ended up in the arms of tight end Shannon Sharpe, who took it 58 yards for a touchdown.

In the third quarter, Ravens receiver Jermaine Lewis returned a punt 17 yards to the Broncos 28-yard line, setting up the final score of the game, a 27-yard touchdown burst by Jamal Lewis. He finished the game with 110 rushing yards, one reception for 15 yards, and 2 touchdowns.

This was the first time the Broncos were prevented from scoring a touchdown in 28 postseason games over a span of three decades.

NFC: Philadelphia Eagles 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Buccaneers 0 3 003
Eagles 0 14 0721

at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

The Eagles defense held the Bucs to only 199 total yards and 11 first downs.

After the first six drives of the game ended in punts, Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott rushed for 18 yards and caught a pass for 8 as the team drove 58 yards in 8 plays to score on score Martin Gramatica's 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter. But late in the period, the Eagles' Hugh Douglas forced Tampa Bay quarterback Shaun King to fumble, and Mike Mamula recovered the loose ball at the Buccaneers 15-yard line. It then set up Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb's 5-yard touchdown run. Tampa Bay punted on their next possession and the Eagles marched 69 yards on 8 plays to take a 14–3 on Na Brown's 5-yard touchdown reception with 12 seconds left in the half.

The first 8 minutes of the third quarter were taken up by the Eagles opening drive. It ended with no points due to a missed field goal attempt by David Akers, but the team got the ball back with good field position after receiving Mark Royals' 27-yard punt on their own 43-yard line. Philadelphia then drove 57 yards in 8 plays to go up 21-3 on third play of the fourth quarter with McNabb's 2-yard pass to Jeff Thomason. Meanwhile Tampa Bay's final two drives of the game would both result in turnovers on downs.

Divisional playoffs

January 6, 2001

NFC: Minnesota Vikings 34, New Orleans Saints 16

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Saints 3 0 7616
Vikings 10 7 10734

at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper led the Vikings to a victory with 305 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Culpepper threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Randy Moss on the game's third play from scrimmage. Culpepper then recorded a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Cris Carter and a 68-yard pass to Moss. Robert Tate's interception in the third quarter set up Robert Smith's 2-yard touchdown run to seal the victory. Meanwhile, the Saints could only score a field goal and two touchdown passes from quarterback Aaron Brooks. Thirty-five-year-old Carter had the best postseason performance of his career, catching 8 passes for a career high 120 yards and a touchdown, while Moss recorded 121 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 2 receptions. Saints receiver Willie Jackson caught 9 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown in the final postseason game of his career. Saints running back Chad Morton tied a playoff record with 13 receptions for 106 yards and rookie TE Dave Stachelski hauled in his 1st NFL career TD.

AFC: Oakland Raiders 27, Miami Dolphins 0

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Dolphins 0 0 000
Raiders 10 10 7027

at Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland, California

The Raiders scored 20 points in the first half, recorded 140 rushing yards, and forced 4 turnovers to shut out the Dolphins. In the first period, Miami threatened to score first with a drive to Oakland's 17-yard line, but Tory James intercepted quarterback Jay Fiedler's pass and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. Then, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski scored two field goals on the team's next two possessions. Later, Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson recovered Dolphins running back Lamar Smith's fumble to set up quarterback Rich Gannon's 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver James Jett to increase the lead, 20–0. The Raiders then capped the scoring after taking the opening kickoff of the second half and marching 54 yards in 12 plays to reach the end zone on running back Tyrone Wheatley's 2-yard touchdown run. Meanwhile, James added a second interception late in the fourth quarter.

January 7, 2001

AFC: Baltimore Ravens 24, Tennessee Titans 10

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Ravens 0 7 31424
Titans 7 0 3010

at Adelphia Coliseum, Nashville, Tennessee

Even though they had only 134 yards of total offense and six first downs, with starting quarterback Trent Dilfer completing just 5 of 16 passes, the Ravens broke a 10–10 tie in the fourth quarter with Anthony Mitchell's 90-yard return of a blocked field goal and Ray Lewis' 50-yard interception return.

The Titans scored first on the game's opening drive after marching 68 yards in 11 plays to reach the end zone on running back Eddie George's 2-yard touchdown run. But Baltimore tied the game early in the second quarter after quarterback Trent Dilfer's 56-yard pass to Shannon Sharpe set up running back Jamal Lewis's 1 -yard touchdown run. Tennessee kicker Al Del Greco attempted two field goals before halftime, but his 45-yarder was blocked and he missed a 31-yarder. The teams then traded field goals in the third quarter, with Tennessee getting their field goal following a blocked punt. Early in the fourth quarter, Del Greco's field goal attempt was blocked, Mitchell caught the ball, and ran 90 yards to the end zone to give the Ravens a 17–10 lead. The Titans then had the ball near midfield with 6:55 remaining, but Ray Lewis' 50-yard interception return for a touchdown sealed the victory for Baltimore.

NFC: New York Giants 20, Philadelphia Eagles 10

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Eagles 0 3 0710
Giants 7 10 0320

at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Eagles never recovered after the Giants' Ron Dixon returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. For the rest of the game, they gained only 186 yards and scored 10 points, despite forcing three turnovers.

Philadelphia failed to get a first down on their first three possessions. Then on the Eagles fourth drive, Torrance Small fumbled and Dave Thomas recovered the loose ball to set up Brad Daluiso's 37-yard field goal.

Late in the second quarter, cornerback Jason Sehorn made a diving interception from Donovan McNabb, then got back up and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown to increase the Giants lead to 17–3. In the third quarter the Eagles recovered an Amani Toomer fumble at the Giants 32-yard line, but the Giants defense managed to halt the ensuing drive at the 13-yard line, and David Akers' 31-yard field goal attempt went wide right.

In the fourth quarter the Eagles took advantage of a blocked Giants punt with a McNabb 10-yard touchdown pass to Small which cut the deficit to 10, but their subsequent onside kick failed and the Giants held the ball the rest of the game.

Conference championships

January 14, 2001

NFC Championship: New York Giants 41, Minnesota Vikings 0

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 0 000
Giants 14 20 7041

at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Quarterback Kerry Collins led the Giants to a victory by throwing for 381 yards and 5 touchdowns in the most lopsided game in NFC Championship Game history and the second most lopsided title game ever (after the 1990 AFC Championship Game). Meanwhile, the Giants shut out the Vikings by limiting them to only 114 offensive yards, sacking quarterback Daunte Culpepper 4 times, and forcing 5 turnovers, and handing the Vikings their first shutout and worst loss in their postseason history. New York wide receiver Ike Hilliard had 10 receptions for 155 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Minnesota sports community sometimes refers to this as "41–doughnut" after a post game comment from Randy Moss: "I was just talking to Daunte, and 41-to-doughnut, I think that's the worst defeat I've ever been in my life." [1] Culpepper completed only 13 of 28 passes for 78 yards, with 3 interceptions, while Moss caught only 2 passes for 18 yards.

Minnesota got off to a bad start and never recovered. After the opening kickoff, Collins led the Giants 74 yards in just 4 plays, scoring on a 46-yard touchdown pass to Hilliard to give them a 7–0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game. Then Giants defensive back Lyle West recovered a fumble from kick returner Moe Williams on the Vikings 18-yard line and Collins capitalized with an 18-yard touchdown pass to fullback Greg Comella on the next play, giving New York a 14–0 lead before the Vikings offense had even stepped onto the field. Minnesota eventually got a chance to score when defensive back Robert Tate intercepted a pass from Collins and returned it to the Giants 37-yard line. But Culpepper soon returned the favor with a pass that was intercepted by Emmanuel McDaniel in the end zone. Collins threw another interception on New York's following drive, this one to Don Morgan on the Vikings 12-yard line. However, Minnesota could not advance the ball, and Mitch Berger's 26-yard punt gave the Giants great field position on the Minnesota 41-yard line. Collins then threw a 22-yard pass to Amani Toomer that set up a Brad Daluiso field goal on the first play of the second quarter.

The next time New York got the ball, Collins' 43-yard completion to Ron Dixon set up an 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver Joe Jurevicius, making the score 24–0. Then after a punt, New York drove 62 yards and scored another Daluiso field goal, aided by a 21-yard run from Tiki Barber, and a 21-yard pass interference penalty against defensive back Wasswa Serwanga. On the last drive of the half, Hilliard caught 4 passes for 59 yards on a 77-yard drive that ended with his 7-yard touchdown catch with 12 seconds left.

By the time the first half ended, New York had scored 34 points (more than they had scored in any of their regular season games) and gained 386 yards, while holding the Vikings to 45.

In the third quarter, Culpepper lost a fumble while being sacked by safety Shaun Williams, and Cornelius Griffin recovered the ball on the Vikings 29, setting up Toomer's 7-yard touchdown reception to close out the scoring. New York's defense would dominate the Vikings for the rest of the game, not allowing them to get beyond the Giants 40-yard line. They also intercepted Culpepper twice, one by Sam Garnes and the other by Jason Sehorn

By starting this game, Collins became the sixth quarterback to start in the conference championship for two different franchises joining Craig Morton, Ron Jaworski, Doug Williams, Jay Schroeder and Joe Montana. He started the 1996 NFC Championship Game for the Carolina Panthers (since then two quarterbacks have started in the conference championship game for two different teams; Kurt Warner and Peyton Manning.)

This game was the final time the Giants won a playoff game at Giants Stadium. It was also their last playoff win at home until they defeated the Atlanta Falcons during the Wild Card round during the 2011–12 NFL playoffs.

AFC Championship: Baltimore Ravens 16, Oakland Raiders 3

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Ravens 0 10 3316
Raiders 0 0 303

at Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland, California

The Ravens forced 4 interceptions and held the Raiders offense to only 191 total yards, 17 rushing yards, and 3 points. Ravens kicker Matt Stover also made 3 field goals. Meanwhile, Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon was knocked out of the game by a ferocious hit from Baltimore defensive lineman Tony Siragusa. He returned briefly in the second half, but was ineffective and was replaced by Bobby Hoying.

Late in the first quarter, the Ravens had a great scoring opportunity when defensive back Robert Bailey intercepted a pass from Gannon at the Raiders 19-yard line. But Baltimore could only gain one yard with their next three plays and then Stover hit the right upright on a 36-yard field goal attempt. Oakland was forced to punt on their ensuing possession, and Shane Lechler's 56-yard kick pinned the Ravens deep in their own territory. A few plays later, facing a third down and 18 yards to go from their 4-yard line, Baltimore tight end Shannon Sharpe caught a short pass and ran 96 yards for a touchdown.

Gannon was knocked out of the game and replaced by Hoying on the Raiders next drive. Ravens defensive back Duane Starks subsequently intercepted Hoying's first pass of the game and returned it 9 yards to the Oakland 20-yard line, setting up Stover's 31-yard field goal to give his team a 10–0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Oakland defensive back Johnnie Harris intercepted a pass from Trent Dilfer and returned it to the Ravens 39-yard line. The Raiders then drove to a first down on the Ravens 2-yard line, aided by two penalties against Baltimore for 27 yards. But they could not penetrate the end zone. First Tyrone Wheatley was dropped for a 1-yard loss. Then Gannon was sacked on second down by Jamie Sharper. On third down, Gannon's pass was incomplete and the Raiders had to settle for Sebastian Janikowski's field goal to cut the score to 10–3; those were the final Raiders points of the game. Ravens receiver Jermaine Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 29 yards to the 38-yard line. Then Dilfer completed a 13-yard pass to Brandon Stokley and a 24-yard pass to tight end Ben Coates on a 51-yard drive that ended another field goal by Stover. In the fourth quarter, Ray Lewis recovered a fumble from Gannon on the Raiders 6-yard line, setting up Stover's third field goal to close out the scoring. With 4:30 left in the game, Raiders receiver Andre Rison caught a 5-yard touchdown pass, but committed pass interference before making the catch and the score was called back. One play later, faced with 3rd and goal from the 12-yard line, Hoying threw a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Jamie Sharper.

Super Bowl XXXV: Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7

Further information: Super Bowl XXXV
Game summary
1 2 34Total
Ravens (AFC) 7 3 141034
Giants (NFC) 0 0 707

at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida


  1. Stroud, Rick (2001-01-15). "Giants win 41–0, and even they can hardly believe it". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on 18 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-07.
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