Ashburn, VA - The National Football League announced the 2003 regular season schedule today, highlighting the kick-off of the NFL season with the Washington Redskins taking on the New York Jets in the first game of the year, a national showcase contest set for Thursday night, September 4th.
The Redskins have been chosen for three primetime, nationally broadcast games this season, including the season opener and finale, both at FedEx Field.
During the upcoming season, Washington will face five teams that participated in the 2002 postseason, and 47 Pro Bowler all-stars.
Launching the NFL's Kick-Off Weekend, the Washington Redskins will open the gates of FedEx Field to a sell-out crowd of over 86,000 fans, hosting the New York Jets in the NFL's largest stadium, with an abundance of pomp and circumstance. The Redskins have not met the Jets on the playing field since 1999, but the two teams have shared plenty of space in the papers this off-season, as Washington's free agency acquisitions brought three former New York players to the roster. The three highly coveted starters, offensive guard Randy Thomas, kicker John Hall, and wide receiver Laveranues Coles, will be facing their former team on September 4th, proudly wearing their new burgundy and gold colors. As the NFL's inaugural game of the season, the primetime contest is sure to be surrounded by an impressive array of pre-game festivities that will only build excitement for the main event on the field. Kick-off is set for 9:00 p.m. on ABC-TV.
Week 2 takes the Redskins on the road to Atlanta, pitting two young quarterbacks against each other as Michael Vick and Patrick Ramsey square off for the first time. Michael Vick powered the Falcons into the playoffs last winter, setting an NFL record for rushing yards in a single game (173 yards at Minn 12/1/02) and earning his first trip to the Pro Bowl in the process. After succumbing to Philadelphia in the NFC Divisional Playoff game in January, the Falcons will be looking to pick up where they left off in 2003, and the Redskins will be ready for the challenge. This will be the first regular season contest between the two clubs since 1994, with Washington leading the all-time series with Atlanta 13-4-1.
FedEx Field opens it's gates for Weeks 3 and 4, when Washington gets an early start against their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, in Week 3. The Redskins have scores to settle after dropping both contests against the Giants last season, and look forward to containing 2002 Rookie of the Year TE Jeremy Shockey and perennial threat RB Tiki Barber. Washington fans can also look forward to another exciting match-up between Redskins T Jon Jansen and Giants DE Michael Strahan. Though Strahan set the single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks in 2001, Jansen constantly poses problems for the impressive veteran.
Week 4 welcomes the 2001 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots to Washington in the first regular season match-up between the two clubs since 1981. The Redskins defense, ranked in the League's top-10 for the last three seasons (5th in 2002), looks to shut down another young QB threat in Tom Brady, who led the AFC in touchdown passes last season.
October opens with the Redskins heading up I-95 to face the NFC East Champion Philadelphia Eagles at their new home, Lincoln Financial Field. Washington will look to shut down feisty QB Donovan McNabb, one of the hottest young players in the league who helped lead the Eagles just one step short of reaching the Super Bowl last season. The Redskins defense has sacked McNabb five times in the past two times they've faced the young quarterback and will work to continue that trend.
Next up, the Redskins host Jon Gruden and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hot off their Super Bowl XXXVII victory in San Diego. The two clubs have a number of quarterback alums in common, as Rob Johnson will be wearing burgundy and gold to face Brad Johnson and Shane Matthews across the sideline in their first visits back to FedEx Field. On the defensive side of the ball, fans will get up-close and personal with Pro Bowlers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, who helped lead the Bucs defense to their victory against AFC Champion Oakland last January. The Redskins wrap up their October opponents with a trip to Buffalo to take on newcomers LB Takeo Spikes and DT Sam Adams, who look to help QB Drew Bledsoe slow down Steve Spurrier's offense.
After a Week 8 bye, Washington heads to Dallas in the team's first meeting of the year against their longtime NFC East rival, the Cowboys, with new head coach Bill Parcells. The Redskins ended a 10-game losing streak last year, beating Dallas at FedEx Field in the season finale, 20-14, and look to build a new streak in Washington's favor with the help of free agent acquisition DT Brandon Noble, who wore the silver star last season.
Seattle, Carolina, Miami and New Orleans are all next on the agenda. The trip to Charlotte will reunite the Redskins with RB Stephen Davis, now wearing Carolina colors. 2002 rookie sack sensation Julius Peppers helps l