NFL releases full schedule

Updated: April 15, 2009, 2:57 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Dallas Cowboys will open their new $1.1 billion stadium in a nationally televised Sunday night game against the New York Giants on Sept. 20.

The NFL released its complete 2009 regular-season schedule Tuesday. The always-popular Cowboys lead all teams with six scheduled nationally televised games, even without Terrell Owens.

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Reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh meets division rival Baltimore twice in five weeks late in the season after they faced off in the AFC title game. They play Nov. 29 and Dec. 27.

The NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, who were edged by the Steelers in the Super Bowl, are scheduled for three national TV prime-time games: Sept. 27 at home against Indianapolis; Oct. 25 at the Giants; and Dec. 14 at San Francisco.

"I think it is a little bit like the Pro Bowl," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We had five guys in this year because it was a sign of respect for what we are doing. And hopefully that is an indication that people are looking at us as a team maybe of interest, which hasn't necessarily been the case -- on a national level is what I am saying -- so that is exciting."

On Oct. 11, the Patriots take on Denver and former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, now the Broncos' coach. New England renews its rivalry with the Colts on Nov. 15.

The NFL had already announced the opening weekend's prime-time games. The Steelers begin their title defense Thursday, Sept. 10 against the Titans, who had the league's best record in 2008 and beat the Steelers 31-14 in the 15th game of the season.

The first Monday night game features the Patriots -- in what they hope is Tom Brady's return -- against the Bills, in Owens' debut. Also that night, the Chargers are at Oakland as the league pays tribute to the American Football League, which would have been 50 years old in 2010. All four of those teams are original AFL franchises.

New England also plays Tampa Bay in London on Oct. 25, with the Buccaneers as the host team.

The Bears, with new quarterback Jay Cutler, are among the teams with five nationally televised games.

It was McDaniels' pursuit of then-Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel that led to Cutler's fallout with the Broncos. McDaniels will face Cassel when Denver plays the Chiefs on Dec. 6 and Jan. 3.

The computer used by the NFL generated more than 1.3 million schedules for consideration, and the league reviewed more than 3,500 complete schedules. That number was cut to 60 before the final one was determined.

Only two clubs have three-game road trips this season, down from as many as eight in the past. The Giants and Seahawks have three straight road contests.

All teams playing a Thursday game that does not follow a bye are at home the weekend before the Thursday match.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press