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Jaguars host Steelers in opener; MNF returns to Jacksonville


A season-opener against visiting Pittsburgh, the return of Monday Night Football to Jacksonville, and a Thursday-nighter against visiting Buffalo highlight the Jaguars 2001 schedule.

The schedule was released by the NFL today. Immediately, it met with rave reviews from inside the Jaguars' offices.

"I think it's a great schedule. I wanted a lot of one o'clock games at home and we got five of them," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said.

The first of those one o'clock games is on Sunday, Sept. 9, when the Jaguars and Steelers open their seasons at Alltel Stadium in what promises to be a day of triple-digit heat index. That game will mark the second time in those two teams' histories that they opened their seasons in Jacksonville. The last time was 1996, when the Jaguars scored a major upset over the then-defending AFC champions.

"I think it's great for us. Pittsburgh is still perceived by our fans as our biggest rival. Pittsburgh at home on Sept. 9 in the heat?" Weaver said, breaking into a smile.

It's also great for Jaguars fans that Monday Night Football will return to Alltel Stadium in 2001, when the Jaguars will host the Green Bay Packers on Monday, Dec. 3. Interestingly, that game will pit the two smallest markets in the NFL.

The Jaguars will also be on national television on Thursday, Oct. 18, when they host the Buffalo Bills on ESPN's Thursday Night Football.

Sunday, Dec. 23, will see the Jaguars play their fourth nationally-televised game, at Minnesota in a 4:15 p.m. start that is the second game of a national doubleheader.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars' 4:15 p.m. game in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Nov. 18, promises to be seen by most of the country.

Other highlights to the Jaguars' 2001 schedule include:

• Three of their first four games at home against AFC Central Division foes (Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Cleveland).

• Consecutive road games against Baltimore and Tennessee on Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 respectively.

• A first-ever performance in Seattle, on Oct. 7.

• An appearance by the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens in Jacksonville on Sunday, Nov. 25, which is Thanksgiving weekend.

The only criticisms of the schedule are consecutive road games in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Minnesota in Dec., and a bye week that is earlier (week six) than the Jaguars would like.

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