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Patriots return from the bye week to face Pittsburgh

Posted Oct 25, 2011

The New England Patriots return from the bye week and will take their No. 1 offense to face the Steelers No. 3 defense at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field this Sunday at 4:15pm ET.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (5-1) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (5-2)
Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 4:15 p.m. ET
Heinz Field (65,000)

Download Game Release PDF >>


The New England Patriots return from the bye week and will take their No. 1 offense to face the Steelers No. 3 defense at Pittsburgh's Heniz Field this week. The Patriots are off to a 5-1 start for the second year in a row and have won at least five of their first six games for the eighth time in team history.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-byplay duties with Phil Simms providing color. The game will be produced by Lance Barrow and directed by Mike Arnold.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Westwood One Radio Sports. Kevin Kugler and Mark Malone will call the game.

RADIO: 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 37 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 35th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Scott Zolak will provide sideline analysis.

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots and Steelers will square off for the 26th time overall and the 22nd time in the regular season. New England has won seven of the last 10 matchups and beat the Steelers, 39-26, last year in a Sunday Night Football game in Pittsburgh on Nov. 14. Pittsburgh leads the all-time regular-season series 13-8, but the Patriots lead the postseason series by a 3-1 margin. The teams played in the AFC Championship Game following the 2001 and 2004 seasons, with the Patriots winning both times en route to Super Bowl titles. Of the previous 25 games in the series, 18 have been played in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers own a 10-8 advantage. The Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh for the 19th time and second year in a row. The Patriots posted a 30-14 win in the Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football on Sept. 9, 2002 against the Steelers.

SERIES BREAKDOWN
(Includes Postseason)

Overall Record, 11-14
- Home Record, 3-4
- Gillette Stadiu, 1-3

Away Record, 8-10
- Heinz Field, 4-1
- Three Rivers Stadium, 4-9

Longest winning streak, 3 games (twice)
Longest losing streak, 5 games (12/17/89 - 12/16/95)

Bill Belichick vs. Pittsburgh, 8-8 (6-2 with New England)

Mike Tomlin vs. New England, 1-2


PASSING PERFORMANCES

Tom Brady has played against Pittsburgh five times in the regular-season and two times in the postseason. He owns a 4-1 regular-season record and a 2-0 postseason record after two AFC Championship wins at Pittsburgh following the 2001 and 2004 seasons. Brady is 2-1 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the regular-season and 2-0 at Pittsburgh in the postseason. He enters this week's Pittsburgh game with three-straight 350-plus passing games against the Steelers.

CONNECTIONS

Pittsburgh Ties
  • TE Rob Gronkowski went to Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh, PA for his senior year after moving from Williamsville, New York.
  • Defensive Backs coach Josh Boyer, who is a native of Heath, Ohio, began his coaching career in 2000 as an assistant coach at King's College (PA).
  • C Dan Koppen went to Whitehall High School in Whitehall, PA before attending Boston College where he was a three year starter.
  • Special teams coach Scott O’Brien coached special teams at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987-1990.
  • DB Ross Ventrone went to Chartiers Valley High School in Pittsburgh, PA but did not play football until his senior year. Ventrone would go on to attend the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to Villanova.

Former NFL Teammates
  • Patriots DB Kyle Arrington appeared in nine games during the 2009 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played alongside Steelers S Will Allen in Tampa Bay.
  • DE Shuan Ellis, RB Danny Woodhead, and DB James Ihedigbo all played with veteran WR Jerricho Cotchery with the New York Jets. Ellis and Cotchery played together the longest as Ellis played in New York from 2000-2010 while Cotchery was with the organization from 2004-2010.
  • DE Shuan Ellis also suited up with LB James Farrior until the 2001 season. Farrior played with the Jets from 1997-2001.
  • Steelers K Shaun Suisham played his entire Washington Redskins career with DE Andre Carter. The two teamed up for four seasons in Washington (2006-2010). DT Albert Haynesworth also played two seasons in Washington while Suisham was with the organization.
  • G Dan Connolly (2006) played with QB Bryon Leftwich in Jacksonville.
  • LB Tracy White played with Leftwich during the 2005 season.

Former Patriots
  • Steelers running backs Coach Kirby Wilson was the running backs coach for the Patriots from 1997-1999. Wilson mentored former Patriots backs Curtis Martin and Robert Edwards.

Former College Teammates
  • QB Tom Brady (2000 Draft Class) teamed up with LB Larry Foote (2002 Draft Class) at the University of Michigan during Brady's junior and senior seasons.
  • P Zoltan Mesko, QB Ryan Mallet, and LB Lamarr Woodley played at Michigan together during the 2006 campaign. Mallet would transfer to the University of Arkansas after his first season at Michigan.
  • LB Jerod Mayo and OG Ramon Foster took the field together for the Tennessee Volunteers 2007 season.
  • LB Brandon Spikes, LB Jermaine Cunningham, and TE Aaron Hernandez went to the University of Florida with C/G Maurkice Pouncey. Each player was drafted as part of the 2010 draft class.


PATRIOTS AND STEELERS ARE AT THE TOP

The Patriots and Steelers are at the top of the NFL charts in several categories since the 1994 season.

TOTAL VICTORIES SINCE 1994 (Incl. Postseason)
New England Patriots, 202
Pittsburgh Steelers, 194

WINNING PERCENTAGE SINCE 1994 (Incl. Postseason -- Team, W, L, T, Pct.)
New England Patriots 202, 102, 0, .664
Pittsburgh Steelers 194, 110, 1, .638

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots, 3
Pittsburgh Steelers, 2
Green Bay Packers, 2

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots, 5
Pittsburgh Steelers, 4

PLAYOFF VICTORIES SINCE 1994
New England Patriots, 17
Pittsburgh Steelers, 17

PLAYOFF GAMES PLAYED SINCE 1994
New England Patriots, 26
Pittsburgh Steelers, 26

NFL’S BEST ROAD WARRIORS
Since the start of the 2000 season, the Patriots have the best regular-season road record at 59-32.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2011

The Patriots own an overall record of 63-12 (.840) at Gillette Stadium in regular season games. Since their state-of-the-art facility opened at the beginning of the 2002 season, the Patriots own the NFL's best record at home.

RECORD SETTING PACE

QUALIFIER - Six games into the season, a number of Patriots players are on pace for record-breaking seasons. While we know these won't be realistic projections, it is fun to look at what the numbers would be if they continued at this pace.

TOM BRADY
  • Tom Brady (2,163) is on pace to throw for 5,768 yards. Only two NFL players have thrown for 5,000 or more yards in a season with Dan Marino's NFL record 5,084 in 1984 and Drew Brees' 5,069 in 2008.
  • Brady has 16 touchdowns, putting him on pace for 43 touchdown passes, which would be his second season with 40 or more touchdowns. He had an NFL-record 50 touchdowns in 2007. If Brady reaches 40 touchdowns, he will be just the second NFL player to have two seasons with 40 or more touchdowns. Dan Marino had 48 touchdowns in 1984 and 44 in 1986.
  • Brady currently has an NFL record of 31 straight wins as a starter in the regular season at home. The last time the Patriots lost a regular season home game in which Brady started was on Nov. 12, 2006 against the New York Jets.
  • Brady has a current streak of 22 straight games with at least one touchdown pass, a Patriots team record. Brady has 116 wins as a starter and needs one more win to tie Joe Montana (117) for 7th all-time.

JULIAN EDELMAN
  • Julian Edelman has the highest punt return average in Patriots history with a 13.6-yard average (36-489).

BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis has 18 touchdown runs since the beginning of the 2010 season, tied for the third most in the NFL with Michael Turner, behind Adrian Peterson (20) and Arian Foster (19).

ROB GRONKOWSKI
  • Rob Gronkowski has five touchdowns so far in 2011, putting him on pace for 13 for the year. The NFL record for most touchdowns in a season by a tight end is 13 by Vernon Davis (SF) in 2009 and Antonio Gates (SD) in 2004. Gronkowski last season set the franchise record for touchdowns by a rookie tight end with 10.
  • Gronkowski has 15 touchdown catches in 22 career NFL games. His 15 touchdowns since 2010 are the most in the NFL by a tight end.

WES WELKER
  • Wes Welker has 51 receptions through six weeks and is on pace for 136, which would be second to Marvin Harrison's single season record of 143, set in 2002.
  • Welker has 785 receiving yards and is on pace for 2,093, which would break Jerry Rice's record of 1,848, set in 1995. Wes Welker had a career-high 217 receiving yards to set a franchise record (09/25/11) at Buffalo, breaking the previous record set by Terry Glenn with 214 receiving yards.
  • Welker has a streak of 67 straight regular season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend a franchise record. TE Ben Coates held the previous mark with 63 straight games.
  • Welker has caught at least one pass in 84 straight regular season games in his NFL career.
  • Welker is tied with six other NFL players as the only players in NFL history to have at least eight receptions, 150 yards and at least one touchdown three times in a single season.

VINCE WILFORK
  • Vince Wilfork has two interceptions so far in 2011 and is one of four Patriots defensive lineman to ever register two career interceptions. Anthony Pleasant (2001) is the only other Patriots defensive lineman to record two interceptions in a single season.

BRADY AND WELKER ON RECORD SETTING PACE

TOM BRADY
  • Tom Brady (2,163) is on pace to throw for 5,768 yards. Only two NFL players have thrown for 5,000 or more yards in a season with Dan Marino's NFL record 5,084 in 1984 and Drew Brees' 5,069 in 2008.
  • Brady has 16 touchdowns, putting him on pace for 43 touchdown passes, which would be his second season with 40 or more touchdowns. He had an NFL-record 50 touchdowns in 2007. If Brady reaches 40 touchdowns, he will be just the second NFL player to have two seasons with 40 or more touchdowns. Dan Marino had 48 touchdowns in 1984 and 44 in 1986.

WES WELKER
  • Wes Welker has 51 receptions through six games and is on pace for 136, which would be second to Marvin Harrison's single season record of 143, set in 2002.
  • Welker has 785 receiving yards and is on pace for 2,093, which would break Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 set in 1995.


INSIDE THE NUMBERS

BY THE NUMBERS

2
The number of games where the Patriots had three players with seven or more receptions: at Miami (9/12) and vs. San Diego (9/18).

2
The number of 2011 draft picks that were in the opening day starting lineup after T Nate Solder started at right tackle and S Ras-I Dowling started at cornerback.

2
The number of interceptions by Vince Wilfork in 2011. Anthony Pleasant (2001) is the only other Patriots defensive lineman to record two interceptions in the same season.

5
The number of touchdown catches by TE Rob Gronkowski in 2011. He is on pace for 13, which would tie an NFL record for tight ends.

7.20
The number of receptions that Wes Welker is averaging during his Patriots career with 483 receptions in 67 games, best in franchise history.

5.27
The average yards per carry by Danny Woodhead during his Patriots career (127 att. for 669 yards), the best average among any Patriots player with at least 100 rushing attempts.

10
The number of career 100-yard receiving games by Deion Branch after he finished with 8 receptions for 129 yards in the win vs. San Diego (9/18).

18
The number of rushing touchdowns by BenJarvus Green-Ellis since the start of the 2010 season, tied for the third most in the NFL.

19
The number of 10-tackle games by LB Jerod Mayo after he finished with a team-high 11 total tackles vs. San Diego (9/18).

51
The number of receptions by Welker in the first six games, which is tied for the second highest total in NFL history for the first six games of the season.

622
The number of total yards by the Patriots in the win at Miami in the season opener, a franchise record. The previous best was 619 yards vs. Tennessee (10/18/09).

785
The number of receiving yards by Wes Welker after six games. In 2010, Welker led the Patriots with 848 total yards to finish 11th in the AFC.


TOM BRADY BY THE NUMBERS

1
The number of NFL quarterbacks that followed a 500-yard performance with a 400-yard performance after Brady had backto- back games with 517 yards and 423 yards.

4
The number of times that Brady has thrown a game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute of the game to turn a deficit into a Patriots win after a final-minute touchdown vs. Dallas (10/16).

6
The number of times that Brady has finished a season with 25 or more touchdowns. He is the sixth QB in NFL history to have 25 or more touchdown passes in at least six different seasons.

8
The number of times Tom Brady has passed for 3,000 or more yards in a season, a franchise record for most 3,000-yard seasons. He finished the season with 3,900 yards.

11
The number of times an NFL quarterback has thrown for 500 or more yards after Brady threw for 517 in the 2011 opener at Miami.

19
The number of times Tom Brady has earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He earned the award in each of the first two weeks of the 2011 season.

18
The number of NFL quarterbacks that have reached 35,000 yards after Brady (36,907) reached the milestone at Miami (9/12).

31
The number of consecutive regular-season starts that Tom Brady has won at Gillette Stadium, extending an NFL record for most consecutive home wins by a starting quarterback in the regular season.

38
The number of regular season 300-yard passing games by Tom Brady, a team record. He is in 9th place for the most 300-yard games in NFL history.

87
The number of times that Brady has thrown two or more touchdowns in a game. The Patriots are 74-13 when he throws for two or more touchdowns.

116
The number of wins that Brady has as a starting quarterback. He reached the 100-win milestone in the fewest number of starts (131) among all quarterbacks in the modern era.

1,327
The number of passing yards Brady had in the first three games (517, 423 and 387). Brady‘s 1,327 yards set the NFL mark for the most passing yards ever in a three-game streatch.

THE KRAFT ERA

3
The number of Super Bowl championships the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Only Denver (2; 1997 and 1998) and Pittsburgh (2; 2005 and 2008) have won multiple Super Bowl titles since 1994.

5
The number of conference championships the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Pittsburgh is second with three conference titles since 1994.

10
The number of division championships won by the Patriots since Kraft purchased the team in 1994.

12
The number of playoff seasons earned by the Patriots in the 17 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team.

17
The number of playoff games the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Pittsburgh ranks second with 15 playoff wins over that span.

26
The number of playoff games the Patriots have appeared in since 1994. The mark is tied with Pittsburgh for the most playoff games during that time period.

THE BELICHICK ERA

4
Bill Belichick is one of just four coaches to win three championships since the Super Bowl era began. Belichick joins three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the exclusive club (Chuck Noll 4, Joe Gibbs 3 and Bill Walsh 3). Belichick is the only coach to win three Super Bowls in the post-1993 salary cap era and the only one to ever win three in four years.

182
Bill Belichick has 182 career victories as a head coach, including playoff games. Belichick is in sole possession of 10th place in alltime coaching victories.

PATRIOTS DEDICATE 2011 SEASON TO MYRA KRAFT
The Patriots announced that they will dedicate the 2011 season to the loving memory of Myra Kraft, who passed away on July 20 after a courageous battle with cancer. Every Patriots player and coach will honor Myra's memory by wearing a patch with her initials on it in recognition of her lifelong contributions to the local and global community and her influence on the charitable mission of the entire Patriots organization. The patch will be worn on the left chest of every player throughout the season.

PATRIOTS WICKED GOOD IN OCTOBER
The Patriots are 32-5 in the month of October since the 2003 season and have won 23 out of their last 25 October games. The Patriots are 18-1 at home and 14-4 on the road during that time in October. New England currently has a 9-game win streak in games played during October. The team's last loss during the month was a 20-17 setback in overtime at Denver on 10/11/09.

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