2002 NFL season

2002 National Football League season
Regular season
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
Pro Bowl
Date February 2, 2003
Site Aloha Stadium

The 2002 NFL season was the 83rd regular season of the National Football League.

The league went back to an even number of teams, expanding to 32 teams with the addition of the Houston Texans. The clubs were then realigned into eight divisions, four teams in each. Also, the Chicago Bears played the 2002 season in Champaign, Illinois at Memorial Stadium because of the reconstruction of their home stadium Soldier Field.

The NFL title was eventually won by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they defeated the Oakland Raiders 48–21 in Super Bowl XXXVII, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California on January 26, 2003.

Expansion and realignment

With the Houston Texans joining the NFL, the league's teams were realigned into eight divisions: four teams in each division and four divisions in each conference. In creating the new divisions, the league tried to maintain the historical rivalries from the old alignment, while at the same time attempting to organize 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.[1]

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the eventual Super Bowl winners, hosting the Minnesota Vikings in week 9

The major changes were:[2][3]

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 two 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 the week following 9/11 and the league nearly outright canceled that week's slate of games.

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 will play in every other team's stadium at least once. Under the new scheduling formula, only two of a team's games each season are based on the previous year'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.[4]

The playoff format was also modified: four division winners and two wild cards from each conference now advance to the playoffs, instead of three division winners and three wild cards. In each conference, the division winners are now seeded 1 through 4, and the wild cards are seeded 5 and 6. In the current system, the only way a wild card team can host a playoff game is if both teams in the conference's championship game are wild cards. Since 1990, the number of playoff teams is still 12.

Major rule changes

The 2002–03 AFC Champion Oakland Raiders playing at home to the Kansas City Chiefs on December 28, 2002

Also, with the opening of the NFL's first stadium with a retractable roof, Reliant Stadium, the following rules were enacted:

Uniform changes

In addition, Reebok took over the contract to be the official athletic supplier to the NFL for all 32 teams's uniforms. Previously, 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 32 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.[5] The legality of the NFL's exclusive contract with Reebok is still in question by the lower courts as of October 2010. Reebok remained the league's athletic supplier through the 2011 NFL season, when Nike took over the contract for the 2012 NFL season.[6]

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[7]—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 (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. This did not affect jerseys sold for retail, though, although special "authentic, gameday-worn" jerseys with the shorter sleeves are available at a much higher premium. Reebok later had more success convincing teams to change uniforms with the NHL when Reebok introduced the Rbk Edge uniforms for the 2007–08 NHL season.

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 Qwest Field and the NFC.

2002 NFL Changes

Coaching changes

Final regular season standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green

AFC East
(4) New York Jets [a] 970.562359336
New England Patriots [b] 970.562381346
Miami Dolphins 970.562378301
Buffalo Bills 880.500379397
AFC North
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers 1051.656390345
(6) Cleveland Browns [c] 970.562344320
Baltimore Ravens 790.438316354
Cincinnati Bengals 2140.125279456
AFC South
(2) Tennessee Titans 1150.688367324
(5) Indianapolis Colts 1060.625349313
Jacksonville Jaguars 6100.375328315
Houston Texans 4120.250213356
AFC West
(1) Oakland Raiders [d] 1150.688450304
Denver Broncos 970.562392344
San Diego Chargers [e] 880.500333367
Kansas City Chiefs 880.500467399
NFC East
(1) Philadelphia Eagles [f] 1240.750415241
(5) New York Giants 1060.625320279
Washington Redskins 790.438307365
Dallas Cowboys 5110.312217329
NFC North
(3) Green Bay Packers 1240.750398328
Minnesota Vikings 6100.375390442
Chicago Bears 4120.250281379
Detroit Lions 3130.188306451
NFC South
(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers [g] 1240.750346196
(6) Atlanta Falcons 961.594402314
New Orleans Saints 970.562432388
Carolina Panthers 790.438258302
NFC West
(4) San Francisco 49ers 1060.625367351
St. Louis Rams [h] 790.438316369
Seattle Seahawks 790.438355369
Arizona Cardinals 5110.312262417



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.

Playoff seeds
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          
 6  Cleveland  33
 3  Pittsburgh  31
 3  Pittsburgh  36     Jan. 19 – Network Associates Coliseum
 2  Tennessee  34*  
Jan. 4 – Giants Stadium  2  Tennessee  24
Jan. 12 – Network Associates Coliseum
   1  Oakland  41  
 5  Indianapolis  0 AFC Championship
 4  NY Jets  10
 4  NY Jets  41   Jan. 26 – Qualcomm Stadium
 1  Oakland  30  
Jan. 5 – Candlestick Park  A1  Oakland  21
Jan. 12 – Raymond James Stadium
   N2  Tampa Bay  48
 5  NY Giants  38 Super Bowl XXXVII
 4  San Francisco  6
 4  San Francisco  39     Jan. 19 – Veterans Stadium
 2  Tampa Bay  31  
Jan. 4 – Lambeau Field  2  Tampa Bay  27
Jan. 11 – Veterans Stadium
   1  Philadelphia  10  
 6  Atlanta  27 NFC Championship
 6  Atlanta  6
 3  Green Bay  7  
 1  Philadelphia  20  
* Indicates overtime victory


The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:

Record Player/Team Date/Opponent Previous Record Holder[8]
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)

Statistical leaders


Points scoredKansas City Chiefs (467)
Total yards gainedOakland Raiders (6,237)
Yards rushingMinnesota Vikings (2,507)
Yards passingOakland Raiders (4,475)
Fewest points allowedTampa Bay Buccaneers (196)
Fewest total yards allowedTampa Bay Buccaneers (4,044)
Fewest rushing yards allowedPittsburgh Steelers (1,375)
Fewest passing yards allowedTampa Bay Buccaneers (2,490)


ScoringPriest Holmes, Kansas City (144 points)
TouchdownsPriest Holmes, Kansas City (24 TDs)
Most field goals madeMartin Gramatica, Tampa Bay (32 FGs)
RushingRicky Williams, Miami (1,853 yards)
PassingChad Pennington, New York Jets (104.2 rating)
Passing touchdownsTom Brady, New England (28 TDs)
Pass receivingMarvin Harrison, Indianapolis (143 catches)
Pass receiving yardsMarvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1,722)
Punt returnsJimmy Williams, San Francisco (16.8 average yards)
Kickoff returnsMarTay Jenkins, Arizona (28.0 average yards)
InterceptionsCharles Woodson, Oakland and Brian Kelly, Tampa Bay (8)
PuntingTodd Sauerbrun, Carolina (45.5 average yards)
SacksJason Taylor, Miami (18.5)


Most Valuable PlayerRich Gannon, Quarterback, Oakland
Coach of the YearAndy Reid, Philadelphia
Offensive Player of the YearPriest Holmes, Running back, Kansas City
Defensive Player of the YearDerrick Brooks, Linebacker, Tampa Bay
Offensive Rookie of the YearClinton Portis, Running Back, Denver
Defensive Rookie of the YearJulius Peppers, Defensive End, Carolina
NFL Comeback Player of the YearTommy Maddox, Quarterback, Pittsburgh

External links


  1. Murray, Ken (May 21, 2001). "Nfl Vote On Realignment Nears". Hartford Courant. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  2. "Realignment for 2002". National Football League. May 23, 2001. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  3. Mason, Andrew (May 23, 2001). "Old faces, new places". National Football League. Archived from the original on June 5, 2001. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  4. "16–0: The Myth of Perfection". The Fount. Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2008.
  5. "American Needle Supreme Court Ruling: NFL Loses Lawsuit". Huffington Post. May 24, 2010. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2010.
  6. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5677387
  7. Bouchette, Ed; Dulac, Gerry (December 25, 2000). "Steelers Report: 12/25/00". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 1, 2008.
  8. "Records". 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. NFL. 2005. ISBN 978-1-932994-36-0.


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