Dolphins To Host Lions in 2002 Season-Opener

The Miami Dolphins announced their 2002 regular season schedule on Thursday (March 28) and will kick off their 2002 campaign on Sunday, Sept. 8 when they host the Detroit Lions at 1 p.m. at Pro Player Stadium.<p>

The game will mark just the 12th time in the team's 37-year history that they have opened the regular season at home.

Miami's schedule will feature five nationally televised contests, including four prime time contest, two on Monday night and two on Sunday night. They also will have one Saturday afternoon affair against the Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome on Dec. 21. This will mark the ninth time in the last 11 years that the Dolphins have been schedule for four prime time games.

Following their opener, the Dolphins will take to the road to take on former AFC East foe Indianapolis, now a member of the new AFC South at the RCA Dome, where the Dolphins have pulled out three straight fourth-quarter comeback victories.

Miami will gets its divisional schedule under way on Sunday, Sept. 22 when they host the New York Jets and attempt to snap a seemingly endless eight game, four year losing streak to the New Yorkers. They then close out the first month of the season on Sunday, Sept. 29 when they travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs, marking their first game at Arrowhead Stadium since 1991.

The Dolphins return to Pro Player Stadium the following Sunday (Oct. 6) to host the defending world champion New England Patriots and then play their first prime time game of the year the following Sunday (Oct. 13) when they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos on Sunday night at Invesco Field at Mile High. It will mark the third time in the last four regular season meetings that these two teams have played on front of a prime time audience.

On Sunday, Oct. 20, the Dolphins will host the Buffalo Bills at Pro Player before taking a week off for their bye week on Oct. 27, marking the Dolphins' latest open date since 1994 when it also occurred following the seventh game of the season.

The Dolphins return to action from their open week with a pair of prime time matchups on the road. It starts with a Monday night game on Nov. 4 against the Green Bay Packers at historic Lambeau Field, and continues with a Sunday night contest on Nov. 10 against the Jets at the Meadowlands.

The Packers game will be the first-ever prime time meeting between the two teams and mark the third time in the last four years (1999, 2000) that the Dolphins have resumed action from their bye with a Monday night game. They then close out the month of November with two straight home games on the 17th and 24th that will begin a span of four home contests over a five week stretch. The Baltimore Ravens return to the scene of last year's playoff crime, when they disposed of the Dolphins 20-3, for a rematch on Nov. 17 before the San Diego Chargers bolt into town for a Nov. 24 matchup.

On Sunday, Dec. 1, the Dolphins play their one road game during the home-game stretch when they travel to Rich Stadium to take on the Buffalo Bills marking the sixth straight year and seventh in the last eight these two teams have met in Buffalo in either November or December.

The Dolphins then return home for their final two appearances at Pro Player Stadium, beginning with a prime time contest on Monday, Dec. 9 against the Chicago Bears when head coach Dave Wannstedt squares off against his old team for the first time. Miami will then close out its home regular season slate on Sunday Dec. 15 when the Oakland Raiders visit PPS.

The Dolphins then conclude their regular season campaign with consecutive road contests, including a nationally televised game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, Dec. 21 in the Metrodome. That will be followed by the regular season finale on Sunday, Dec. 29 when they make their first trip to brand new CMGI Field in Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots in a game that could possibly decide the AFC East title. The game will mark the second time in the last three years, third time in the last six seasons and the ninth occasion overall that the Dolphins and Pats have played one another in a regular season finale. In addition, it will mark the fourth time in the last five seasons, sixth time in the last eight years and tenth time overall that the Dolphins will finish the season on the road. It represents just the third time (1993, at San Diego, at New England; 1995, at Buffalo, at St. Louis) that they have played on the road each of the final two weeks of the regular season.

With their two appearances on Monday Night Football, the Dolphins now have been schedule for at least one MNF game every years since 1990. In fact, since the inception of Monday Night Football in 1970, 1989 has been the only year the Dolphins did not play on a Monday night.

The combined record of the Dolphins' 13 opponents this years was 101-107 in 2001. Their eight home foes went 64-64, while their eight road opponents posted a mark of 61-67. Of the 13 opponents, six (New England, New York Jets, Green Bay, Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland) qualified for the playoffs in 2001.

Having five nationally televised games is an indication of the success that this team has achieved," said head coach Dave Wannstedt. "It will be nice to have our bye week right near the middle of the season, giving our guys a break as we head down the stretch. Like all schedules, ours presents several challenged, the first of which will be having back-to-back prime time games on the road in November. Closing out the season with two straight games away from home also will be tough, especially that last one against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots where the elements usually come into play that time of year.

"I'm looking forward to playing the Bears on a Monday night, but we can't lose sight of the fact that our AFC East games still are the most important ones on our schedule. And with only six divisional games now instead of eight, each one will take on even more significance that it has in the past."

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