2001 NFL season

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2001 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 9, 2001 – January 7, 2002
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, a number of games were re-scheduled.
Start date January 12, 2002
AFC Champions New England Patriots
NFC Champions St. Louis Rams
Super Bowl XXXVI
Date February 3, 2002
Site Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions New England Patriots
Pro Bowl
Date February 9, 2002
Site Aloha Stadium

The 2001 NFL season was the 82nd regular season of the National Football League (NFL). In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the NFL's week 2 games (September 16–17) were postponed and rescheduled to the weekend of January 6–7. In order 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.


Following a pattern set in 1999, the first week of the season was permanently moved to the weekend following Labor Day. With Super Bowls XXXVI-XXXVII already scheduled for fixed dates, the league initially decided to eliminate the Super Bowl bye weeks for 2001 and 2002 to adjust.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the games originally scheduled for September 16–17 were postponed and rescheduled to the weekend of January 6–7. In order to retain the full playoff format, all playoff games, including the Super Bowl, were rescheduled one week later. The season-ending Pro Bowl was also moved to one week later. This was the last season in which each conference had 3 divisions, as the conferences were realigned to 4 divisions for the 2002 NFL season.

Canceling the games scheduled for September 16–17 was considered and rejected since it would have canceled a home game for half the teams of the league. It would have also resulted in an unequal number of games played: Sept. 16–17 was to have been a bye for the San Diego Chargers, so that team would still have played 16 games that season and each of the other teams would have played only 15 games (the Chargers ultimately finished 5–11, making any competitive advantages to playing an extra game moot).

New England at Carolina in week 17, January 6, 2002

As a result of rescheduling Week 2 as Week 17, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended up not playing a home game for the entire month of September (their only home game during that month was originally scheduled for Sept. 16). The ESPN Sunday Night Football game for that week was also changed. It was originally scheduled to be Cleveland at Pittsburgh, but it was replaced with Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, which was seen as a more interesting matchup (it was the only night game the Browns had on the schedule, whereas the Steelers had a few others; so 2000 and 2001 marked the first back-to-back seasons for the Browns without a primetime game since 1974–76; the Browns would finally play in Heinz Field at night in 2003). Ironically, the Eagles and the Buccaneers would both rest their starters that night, and they would meet one week later in the playoffs. In recognition of this, when NBC began airing Sunday Night Football in 2006, there would be no game initially scheduled for weeks 11–17 – a game initially scheduled in the afternoon would be moved to the primetime slot, without stripping any teams of a primetime appearance. This way of "flexible scheduling" would not be utilized at all in 2007, and since 2008, it is only utilized in the final week.

The games that eventually made up Week 17 marked the latest regular season games to be played during what is traditionally defined as the "NFL season" (under the current format, the regular season cannot end later than January 3 in any given year).

Another scheduling change took place in October, when the Dallas Cowboys-Oakland Raiders game was moved from October 21 to 7 to accommodate a possible Oakland Athletics home playoff game on the 21st (the start of Major League Baseball's postseason was also delayed by the 9/11 attacks due to rescheduling of a week's worth of games). The rescheduling ended up being unnecessary as the Athletics would not make it past the Division Series round.

Also, this was the only NFL season where every jersey had a patch to remember those who died on 9/11, and the New York Jets and New York Giants wore a patch to remember the firefighters who died.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXVI when the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams.

Major rule changes[edit]

  • Fumble recoveries will be awarded at the spot of the recovery, not where the player's momentum carries him. This change was passed in response to two regular season games in 2000, Atlanta FalconsCarolina Panthers[1] and Oakland RaidersSeattle Seahawks,[2] in which a safety was awarded when a defensive player's momentum in recovering a fumble carried him into his own end zone.
  • Taunting rules and roughing the passer will be strictly enforced.

Uniform and stadium changes[edit]

Coaching changes[edit]

Final regular season standings[edit]

W = Wins, L = Losses, PCT = Winning percentage, PF= Points for, PA = Points against

Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green. No ties occurred this year.

AFC East
(2) New England Patriots 11 5 .688 371 272
(4) Miami Dolphins 11 5 .688 344 290
(6) New York Jets 10 6 .625 308 295
Indianapolis Colts 6 10 .375 413 486
Buffalo Bills 3 13 .188 265 420
AFC Central
(1) Pittsburgh Steelers 13 3 .813 352 212
(5) Baltimore Ravens 10 6 .625 303 265
Cleveland Browns 7 9 .438 285 319
Tennessee Titans 7 9 .438 336 388
Jacksonville Jaguars 6 10 .375 294 286
Cincinnati Bengals 6 10 .375 226 309
AFC West
(3) Oakland Raiders 10 6 .625 399 327
Seattle Seahawks 9 7 .563 301 324
Denver Broncos 8 8 .500 340 339
Kansas City Chiefs 6 10 .375 320 344
San Diego Chargers 5 11 .313 332 321
NFC East
(3) Philadelphia Eagles 11 5 .688 343 208
Washington Redskins 8 8 .500 256 303
New York Giants 7 9 .438 294 321
Arizona Cardinals 7 9 .438 295 343
Dallas Cowboys 5 11 .313 246 338
NFC Central
(2) Chicago Bears 13 3 .813 338 203
(4) Green Bay Packers 12 4 .750 390 266
(6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9 7 .563 324 280
Minnesota Vikings 5 11 .313 290 390
Detroit Lions 2 14 .125 270 424
NFC West
(1) St. Louis Rams 14 2 .875 503 273
(5) San Francisco 49ers 12 4 .750 409 282
New Orleans Saints 7 9 .438 333 409
Atlanta Falcons 7 9 .438 291 377
Carolina Panthers 1 15 .063 253 410


  • New England finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on better division record (6–2 to Dolphins' 5–3).
  • Cleveland finished ahead of Tennessee in the AFC Central based on better division record (5–5 to Titans' 3–7).
  • Jacksonville finished ahead of Cincinnati in the AFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • N.Y. Giants finished ahead of Arizona in the NFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • New Orleans finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on better division record (4–4 to Falcons' 3–5).
  • Baltimore was the second AFC Wild Card based on better record against common opponents (3–1 to Jets' 2–2).
  • Green Bay was the first NFC Wild Card based on better conference record (9–3 to 49ers' 8–4).


Jan. 12 – Veterans Stadium   Jan. 19 – Soldier Field          
 6  Tampa Bay  9
 3  Philadelphia  33
 3  Philadelphia  31     Jan. 27 – Edward Jones Dome
 2  Chicago  19  
Jan. 13 – Lambeau Field  3  Philadelphia  24
Jan. 20 – The Dome at America's Center
   1  St. Louis  29  
 5  San Francisco  15 NFC Championship
 4  Green Bay  17
 4  Green Bay  25   Feb. 3 – Louisiana Superdome
 1  St. Louis  45  
Wild card playoffs  
Divisional playoffs
Jan. 12 – Network Associates Coliseum  N1  St. Louis  17
Jan. 19 – Foxboro Stadium
   A2  New England  20
 6  NY Jets  24 Super Bowl XXXVI
 3  Oakland  13
 3  Oakland  38     Jan. 27 – Heinz Field
 2  New England  16*  
Jan. 13 – Pro Player Stadium  2  New England  24
Jan. 20 – Heinz Field
   1  Pittsburgh  17  
 5  Baltimore  20 AFC Championship
 5  Baltimore  10
 4  Miami  3  
 1  Pittsburgh  27  

* Indicates overtime victory
Bold text Indicates winning team


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

Record Player/Team Previous Record Holder[3]
Most Sacks, Season* Michael Strahan, New York Giants (22.5) Mark Gastineau, New York Jets, 1984 (22.0)
Most Consecutive Games Lost, Season Carolina (15) Tied by 4 teams (14)

* – Sack statistics have only been compiled since 1982.

Statistical leaders[edit]


Points scored St. Louis Rams (503)
Total yards gained St. Louis Rams (6,930)
Yards rushing Pittsburgh Steelers (2,774)
Yards passing St. Louis Rams (4,903)
Fewest points allowed Chicago Bears (203)
Fewest total yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (4,504)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (1,195)
Fewest passing yards allowed Dallas Cowboys (3,019)


Scoring Marshall Faulk, St. Louis (128 points)
Touchdowns Marshall Faulk, St. Louis (21 TDs)
Most field goals made Jason Elam, Denver (31 FGs)
Rushing Priest Holmes, Kansas City (1,555 yards)
Passing Kurt Warner, St. Louis (101.4 rating)
Passing touchdowns Kurt Warner, St. Louis (36 TDs)
Pass receiving Rod Smith, Denver (113 catches)
Pass receiving yards David Boston, Arizona (1,598)
Punt returns Troy Brown, New England (14.2 average yards)
Kickoff returns Ronney Jenkins, San Diego (26.6 average yards)
Interceptions Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay and Anthony Henry, Cleveland (10)
Punting Todd Sauerbrun, Carolina (47.5 average yards)
Sacks Michael Strahan, New York Giants (22.5)


Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner, Quarterback, St. Louis
Coach of the Year Dick Jauron, Chicago
Offensive Player of the Year Marshall Faulk, Running back, St. Louis
Defensive Player of the Year Michael Strahan, Defensive End, New York Giants
Offensive Rookie of the Year Anthony Thomas, Running Back, Chicago
Defensive Rookie of the Year Kendrell Bell, Linebacker, Pittsburgh
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Garrison Hearst, Running Back, San Francisco
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Jerome Bettis, Running Back, Pittsburgh
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England


The 2001 NFL Draft was held from April 21 to 22, 2001 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Michael Vick from Virginia Tech University.


  1. ^ "Panthers' Seifert confused by call". September 18, 2000. Archived from the original on October 17, 2000. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  2. ^ Bush, David (December 17, 2000). "Bizarre Play Stuns Raiders". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 28, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Records". 2005 NFL Record and Fact Book. NFL. 2005. ISBN 978-1-932994-36-0. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]