|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|
|Date||February 9, 2002|
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 and 17) were postponed and rescheduled to the weekend of January 6 and 7, 2002. 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.
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.
Bill Leavy and Terry McAulay were promoted to referee. Phil Luckett returned to back judge, while another officiating crew was added in 2001 in preparation for the Houston Texans expansion team, the league's 32nd franchise, in 2002.
Due to labor dispute, the regular NFL officials were locked out prior to the final week of the preseason. Replacement officials who had worked in college football or the Arena Football League officiated NFL games during the last preseason week and the first week of the regular season. A deal was eventually reached before play resumed after the September 11 attacks.
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 and 17 were postponed and rescheduled to the weekend of January 6 and 7. To date, this was the last major interruption to regular season NFL games. 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 three divisions, as the conferences would be realigned to four divisions for the 2002 NFL season.
Canceling the games scheduled for September 16 and 17 was considered and rejected since it would have canceled a home game for about half the teams (15 of 31). It would have also resulted in an unequal number of games played: September 16 and 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 irrelevant).
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 September 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. Ironically, the Eagles and Buccaneers would both rest their starters that night, and 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 to 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 at Oakland game was moved from October 21 to October 7 to accommodate a possible Oakland Athletics home playoff game on the October 21. The rescheduling ended up being unnecessary as the Athletics would not make it past the Division Series round.
|Jan. 12 - Veterans Stadium||Jan. 19 - Soldier Field|
|3||Philadelphia||31||Jan. 27 - Edward Jones Dome|
|Jan. 13 - Lambeau Field||3||Philadelphia||24|
|Jan. 20 - Edward Jones Dome|
|5||San Francisco||15||NFC Championship|
|4||Green Bay||25||Feb. 3 - Louisiana Superdome|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan. 12 - Network Associates Coliseum||N1||St. Louis||17|
|Jan. 19 - Foxboro Stadium|
|6||NY Jets||24||Super Bowl XXXVI|
|3||Oakland||38||Jan. 27 - Heinz Field|
|Jan. 13 - Pro Player Stadium||2||New England||24|
|Jan. 20 - Heinz Field|
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player/Team||Previous Record Holder|
|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.
|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|
In addition, the turf at Veterans Stadium was replaced with NexTurf after a preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens is cancelled. Ravens coach Brian Billick told officials of the NFL that he refused to have his team play on a slippery and bouncy turf field which he deemed unsafe.