2002 NFL season

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2002 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 5 – December 30, 2002
Start dateJanuary 4, 2003
AFC ChampionsOakland Raiders
NFC ChampionsTampa Bay Buccaneers
Super Bowl XXXVII
DateJanuary 26, 2003
SiteQualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
ChampionsTampa Bay Buccaneers
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 2003
SiteAloha Stadium
National Football League seasons
 < 20012003 > 
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2002 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 5 – December 30, 2002
Start dateJanuary 4, 2003
AFC ChampionsOakland Raiders
NFC ChampionsTampa Bay Buccaneers
Super Bowl XXXVII
DateJanuary 26, 2003
SiteQualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
ChampionsTampa Bay Buccaneers
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 2003
SiteAloha Stadium
National Football League seasons
 < 20012003 > 

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 in Super Bowl XXXVII, the Super Bowl championship game, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California on January 26.

Expansion and realignment[edit]

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 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 got 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 canceling that week.

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.[2]

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 wildcard team can host a playoff game is if both teams in the conference's Championship Game are wild cards.

Major rule changes[edit]

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

Uniform changes[edit]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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[5]—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[edit]

Coaching changes[edit]

Final regular season standings[edit]

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 Dolphins970.562378301
Buffalo Bills880.500379397
AFC North
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers1051.656390345
(6) Cleveland Browns [c]970.562344320
Baltimore Ravens790.438316354
Cincinnati Bengals2140.125279456
AFC South
(2) Tennessee Titans1150.688367324
(5) Indianapolis Colts1060.625349313
Jacksonville Jaguars6100.375328315
Houston Texans4120.250213356
AFC West
(1) Oakland Raiders [d]1150.688450304
Denver Broncos970.562392344
San Diego Chargers [e]880.500333367
Kansas City Chiefs880.500467399
NFC East
(1) Philadelphia Eagles [f]1240.750415241
(5) New York Giants1060.625320279
Washington Redskins790.438307365
Dallas Cowboys5110.312217329
NFC North
(3) Green Bay Packers1240.750398328
Minnesota Vikings6100.375390442
Chicago Bears4120.250281379
Detroit Lions3130.188306451
NFC South
(2) Tampa Bay Buccaneers [g]1240.750346196
(6) Atlanta Falcons961.594402314
New Orleans Saints970.562432388
Carolina Panthers790.438258302
NFC West
(4) San Francisco 49ers1060.625367351
St. Louis Rams [h]790.438316369
Seattle Seahawks790.438355369
Arizona Cardinals5110.312262417



Playoff seeds
1Oakland Raiders (West winner)Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)
2Tennessee Titans (South winner)Tampa Bay Buccaneers (South winner)
3Pittsburgh Steelers (North winner)Green Bay Packers (North winner)
4New York Jets (East winner)San Francisco 49ers (West winner)
5Indianapolis Colts (wild card)New York Giants (wild card)
6Cleveland Browns (wild card)Atlanta Falcons (wild card)


January 5 - Heinz Field January 11 - The Coliseum     
 6 Cleveland 33
 3 Pittsburgh 31
 3 Pittsburgh 36  January 19 - Network Associates Coliseum
 2 Tennessee 34* 
January 4 - Giants Stadium 2 Tennessee 24
January 12 - Network Associates Coliseum
  1 Oakland 41 
 5 Indianapolis 0AFC Championship
 4 N.Y. Jets 10
 4 N.Y. Jets 41 January 26 - Qualcomm Stadium
 1 Oakland 30 
Wild Card Playoffs 
Divisional Playoffs
January 5 - San Francisco Stadium at Candlestick Point A1 Oakland 21
January 12 - Raymond James Stadium
  N2 Tampa Bay 48
 5 N.Y. Giants 38Super Bowl XXXVII
 4 San Francisco 6
 4 San Francisco 39  January 19 - Veterans Stadium
 2 Tampa Bay 31 
January 4 - Lambeau Field 2 Tampa Bay 27
January 11 - Veterans Stadium
  1 Philadelphia 10 
 6 Atlanta 27NFC 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:

RecordPlayer/TeamDate/OpponentPrevious Record Holder[6]
Most Pass Receptions, SeasonMarvin Harrison, Indianapolis (143)N/AHerman Moore, Detroit, 1995 (123)
Longest Return of a Missed Field GoalChris McAlister, Baltimore (107 yards)September 30, vs. DenverAaron Glenn, N.Y. Jets vs. Indianapolis, November 15, 1998 (104)
Yards From Scrimmage, CareerJerry Rice, Oakland (21,284)September 29, vs. TennesseeWalter Payton, 1975–1987 (21,264)
Most Rushing Yards Gained, CareerEmmitt Smith, DallasOctober 27, vs. SeattleWalter Payton, 1975–1987 (16,726)
Most Rushing Yards by a Quarterback, GameMichael Vick, Atlanta (173)December 1 vs. MinnesotaTobin Rote, Green Bay vs. Chicago, November 18, 1951 (150)
Most First Downs by Both Teams, GameSeattle (32) vs. Kansas City (32) [64 total]November 24Tied by 2 games (62 total)
Fewest Fumbles by a Team, SeasonKansas City (7)N/ACleveland, 1959 (8)
Fewest Fumbles Lost by a Team, SeasonKansas City (2)N/ATied by 2 teams (3)
Most Punts by a Team, SeasonHouston (116)N/AChicago, 1981 (114)

Statistical leaders[edit]


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[edit]


  1. ^ http://articles.courant.com/2001-05-21/features/0105210578_1_afc-north-divisions-of-four-teams-realignment
  2. ^ "16–0: The Myth of Perfection". The Fount. Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2008. 
  3. ^ "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. 
  4. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5677387
  5. ^ Bouchette, Ed; Dulac, Gerry (December 25, 2000). "Steelers Report: 12/25/00". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 1, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Records". 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. NFL. 2005. ISBN 978-1-932994-36-0.