New York teams to play on 9/11
NEW YORK — The New York Giants will visit the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11, marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With the NFL and its locked-out players mired in negotiations over a new labor agreement, the league announced Tuesday its 2011-12 schedule — assuming the season starts on time.
The regular season kicks off Thursday night, Sept. 8, when the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
The first Sunday features several high-profile games, including Indianapolis at Houston and Atlanta at Chicago.
But much of the national focus will be on Washington and New York, the two cities most affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"That stadium is going to be full of emotion, not only the people from the area but in the entire country," said Jets coach Rex Ryan.
The Redskins and Giants kick off at 4:15 p.m., with the Jets and Cowboys at 8:20 p.m.
"For nearly 10 years, we have felt an obligation to use our platform to make sure none of us ever forget the tragedy and heartbreak and courage and heroism of Sept. 11," Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said.
New England travels to Miami and Oakland visits Denver for the opening Monday night.
The final Sunday of the regular season falls on New Year's Day, when all 16 scheduled games are between division rivals, enhancing the potential for playoff ramifications.
The regular season covers 17 weeks, with the opening round of the playoffs scheduled for Jan. 7-8 and the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
Among the other highlights of the schedule, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Chicago Bears on Oct. 23 at Wembley Stadium, one of two games outside the United States and the fifth consecutive year the NFL has played a regular-season game in London.
The Buffalo Bills will play a game in Canada for the fourth consecutive season when they host the Redskins on Oct. 30 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The Bills have a deal with Rogers Communications through 2012 to play five regular-season games in Canada's largest city.
The Thanksgiving Day games include the Packers at Detroit, Miami at Dallas and San Francisco at Baltimore, when new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh faces the Ravens and coach John Harbaugh in the first meeting between sibling head coaches in NFL history.
The Packers play the Bears in the only game on Christmas Day. There are 13 games scheduled for Dec. 24, including the Giants against the Jets.
The NFL will again use "flexible scheduling" for Weeks 10-15 and the final week of the regular season, allowing the league to move the start times for select games.