Investigators released a poster Wednesday showing a still image of the two men walking down the sidewalk.
The FBI said the two men saw a piece of luggage on the sidewalk, removed the improvised explosive device that was inside and then left with just the luggage.
"I think they were more interested in the bag, not what they were taking out," said Jim Watters, chief of the New York Police Department's counterterrorism unit. He added that they were "very, very lucky" the bomb didn't explode.
Jim Dolan live in Linden:
This happened between 8 and 9 p.m., in the same hour that a similar pressure cooker-style bomb exploded on West 23rd Street, injuring 31 people.
The device, which was found wrapped in a plastic bag by a neighbor, did not detonate.
Investigators only wish to speak with these men and recover the luggage that they took.
Since the arrest of suspect Ahmad Rahami, investigators in two states are now determined to track down every possible lead in their search for accomplices and to unravel the plot.
Although the two men in the photo are not considered suspects, the suitcase could yield fingerprints or DNA that could lead to co-conspirators.
"They're not in any jeopardy of being arrested," Watters said. "We have no reason to believe they're connected."
And investigators say Rahami's bloody notebook leaves little doubt about his motive, with references to al-Qaeda and ISIS, and a murderous hatred for non-Muslims.
The NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for counterterrorism, John Miller, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that Rahami was dismissed as a serious threat more than two years ago.
"Based on what I've seen so far, as part of the investigation, he seems like many suspects who came into contact with the system at various times and was handled to the extent that the system, the law and the guidelines that we operate under would allow them to," said Miller.
Anyone who can identify the men in the photo is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.