2003 NFL season
|Duration||September 4 – December 28, 2003|
|Start date||January 3, 2004|
|AFC Champions||New England Patriots|
|NFC Champions||Carolina Panthers|
|Super Bowl XXXVIII|
|Date||February 1, 2004|
|Site||Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|Champions||New England Patriots|
|Date||February 8, 2004|
Regular season play was held from September 4, 2003 to December 28, 2003. Due to damage caused by the Cedar Fire, Qualcomm Stadium was used as an emergency shelter, and thus the Miami Dolphins–San Diego Chargers regular season match on October 27 was instead played at Sun Devil Stadium, the home field of the Arizona Cardinals.
The playoffs began on January 3, 2004. The NFL title was eventually won by the New England Patriots when they narrowly defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on February 1.
Major rule changes
- If an onside kick inside the final five minutes of the game does not go 10 yards, goes out of bounds, or is touched illegally, the receiving team will have the option of accepting the penalty and getting the ball immediately. Previously, the kicking team was penalized, but had another chance to kick again from five yards back.
- League officials encouraged networks to immediately cut to a commercial break if an instant replay challenge review was initiated. Previously networks rarely utilized those stoppages for their prescribed commercial periods.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Marvin Lewis; replaced Dick LeBeau who was fired following the 2002 season.
- Dallas Cowboys – Bill Parcells; replaced Dave Campo who was fired following the 2002 season.
- Detroit Lions – Steve Mariucci; replaced Marty Mornhinweg who was fired following the 2002 season.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Jack Del Rio; replaced Tom Coughlin who was fired following the 2002 season.
- San Francisco 49ers – Dennis Erickson; replaced Steve Mariucci who was fired following the 2002 season.
Final regular season standings
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.
|(1) New England Patriots||14||2||.875||348||238|
|Buffalo Bills [c]||6||10||.375||243||279|
|New York Jets||6||10||.375||283||299|
|(4) Baltimore Ravens||10||6||.625||391||281|
|(3) Indianapolis Colts [a]||12||4||.750||447||336|
|(5) Tennessee Titans||12||4||.750||435||324|
|Jacksonville Jaguars [d]||5||11||.313||276||331|
|(2) Kansas City Chiefs||13||3||.813||484||332|
|(6) Denver Broncos [b]||10||6||.625||381||301|
|Oakland Raiders [e]||4||12||.250||270||379|
|San Diego Chargers||4||12||.250||313||441|
|(1) Philadelphia Eagles[f]||12||4||.750||374||287|
|(6) Dallas Cowboys||10||6||.625||289||260|
|New York Giants||4||12||.250||243||387|
|(4) Green Bay Packers||10||6||.625||442||307|
|(3) Carolina Panthers||11||5||.688||325||304|
|New Orleans Saints||8||8||.500||340||326|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||7||9||.438||301||264|
|(2) St. Louis Rams||12||4||.750||447||328|
|(5) Seattle Seahawks [g]||10||6||.625||404||327|
|San Francisco 49ers||7||9||.438||384||337|
- a Indianapolis finished ahead of Tennessee in the AFC South based on better head-to-head record (2–0).
- b Denver clinched the AFC 6 seed instead of Miami based on better conference record (9–3 to 7–5).
- c Buffalo finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better division record (2–4 to 1–5).
- d Jacksonville finished ahead of Houston in the AFC South based on better division record (2–4 to 1–5).
- e Oakland finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on better conference record (3–9 to 2–10).
- f Philadelphia clinched the NFC 1 seed instead of St. Louis based on better conference record (9–3 to 8–4).
- g Seattle clinched the NFC 5 seed instead of Dallas based on strength of victory (.406 to .388).
- New Orleans Saints – New AstroPlay home turf by midseason.
- Atlanta Falcons – New Logo. New Uniforms. New FieldTurf surface.
- Green Bay Packers – New remodel Lambeau Field.
- Detroit Lions – New Uniforms. added black trim on logo and numbers.
- Chicago Bears – New remodel Soldier Field.
- Buffalo Bills – New AstroPlay home turf.
- Philadelphia Eagles – New stadium; Lincoln Financial Field. And added silver trim to numbers on uniforms. Introduce new home alternative uniforms. black uniforms with white numbers with midnight green shadow in numbers.
- San Diego Chargers – White pants with road uniforms.
- New England Patriots – Added third alternative uniforms. Silver uniforms.
- Miami Dolphins – Added third alternative uniforms. Orange uniforms.
- Houston Texans – Added third alternative uniforms. Red Uniforms.
- Cleveland Browns – Added new alternative orange pants last worn in the Kardiac Kids era of coach Sam Rutigliano.
- Tennessee Titans – Added third alternative uniforms. powder blue.
|1||New England Patriots (East winner)||Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs (West winner)||St. Louis Rams (West winner)|
|3||Indianapolis Colts (South winner)||Carolina Panthers (South winner)|
|4||Baltimore Ravens (North winner)||Green Bay Packers (North winner)|
|5||Tennessee Titans (wild card)||Seattle Seahawks (wild card)|
|6||Denver Broncos (wild card)||Dallas Cowboys (wild card)|
For details on the NFL playoff format, see National Football League playoffs#Current playoff system.
|Jan. 3 – Bank of America Stadium||Jan. 10 – Edward Jones Dome|
|3||Carolina||29||Jan. 18 – Lincoln Financial Field|
|Jan. 4 – Lambeau Field||3||Carolina||14|
|Jan. 11 – Lincoln Financial Field|
|4||Green Bay||33*||Feb. 1 – Reliant Stadium|
|Wild Card Playoffs|
|Jan. 4 – RCA Dome||N3||Carolina||29|
|Jan. 11 – Arrowhead Stadium|
|6||Denver||10||Super Bowl XXXVIII|
|3||Indianapolis||41||Jan. 18 – Gillette Stadium|
|Jan. 3 – M&T Bank Stadium||3||Indianapolis||14|
|Jan. 10 – Gillette Stadium|
- * Indicates overtime victory
- ** Indicates double overtime victory
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player/Team||Date/Opponent||Previous Record Holder|
|Most Touchdowns, Season||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (27)||December 28, vs. Chicago||Marshall Faulk, St. Louis, 2000 (26)|
|Most Rushing Yards Gained, Game||Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (295)||September 14, vs. Cleveland||Corey Dillon, Cincinnati vs. Denver, October 22, 2000 (278)|
|Most Consecutive Field Goals||Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis||December 28, at Houston||Gary Anderson, 1997–98 (40)|
|Most Consecutive Road Games Lost||Detroit Lions||December 21, vs. Carolina||Houston Oilers, 1981–84 (23)|
|Most Consecutive Games with a Sack||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (69)||November 9, 2003||Dallas Cowboys (68)|
|Points scored||Kansas City Chiefs (484)|
|Total yards gained||Minnesota Vikings (6,294)|
|Yards rushing||Baltimore Ravens (2,674)|
|Yards passing||Indianapolis Colts (4,179)|
|Fewest points allowed||New England Patriots (238)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (4,056)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Tennessee Titans (1,295)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (2,631)|
|Scoring||Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis (163 points)|
|Touchdowns||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (27 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis (39 FGs)|
|Rushing||Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2,066 yards)|
|Passing||Steve McNair, Tennessee (100.4 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Brett Favre, Green Bay (32 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Torry Holt, St. Louis (117 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Torry Holt, St. Louis (1,696)|
|Punt returns||Dante Hall, Kansas City (16.3 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Jerry Azumah, Chicago (29.0 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Brian Russell, Minnesota and Tony Parrish, San Francisco (9)|
|Punting||Shane Lechler, Oakland (46.9 average yards)|
|Sacks||Michael Strahan, New York Giants (18.5)|
|Most Valuable Player||Peyton Manning, Quarterback, Indianapolis and Steve McNair, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans|
|Coach of the Year||Bill Belichick, New England|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Jamal Lewis, Running back, Baltimore|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Ray Lewis, Linebacker, Baltimore|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, Arizona|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Terrell Suggs, Linebacker, Baltimore|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Jon Kitna, Quarterback, Cincinnati|
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- NFL History 2001– (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)