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Patriots to face Falcons in prime time

Posted Sep 24, 2013

The Patriots will face their second consecutive NFC South opponent when they travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome in a prime time Sunday Night Football game.

PATRIOTS (3-0) at FALCONS (1-2)
Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 at 8:30 p.m. EDT
Georgia Dome (71,228)

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The New England Patriots improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2007 and for the eighth time in team history after a 23-3 victory last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This week, the Patriots will face their second consecutive NFC South opponent when they travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome in a prime time Sunday Night Football game. The game is the second of five scheduled national television games for the Patriots. In addition to the Falcons game, the Patriots played the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football on Sept. 12 and will play at Carolina on Monday Night Football on Nov. 18, vs. Denver on Sunday night on Nov. 24 and at Baltimore on Sunday Night Football on Dec. 22.

The Patriots have allowed a total of 34 points through three games this season, but the defense has allowed only 27 points this season (seven opponent points came on a fumble return). The 34 total points allowed by the Patriots are the fewest for the team through three games since 1979, when New England started the season by allowing 33 points in the first three games (losing 16-13 to Pittsburgh in overtime, beating the New York Jets 56-3, and winning 20-14 at Cincinnati).

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by NBC and can be seen in Boston on WHDH-TV Channel 7. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collinsworth providing color. Michele Tafoya will serve as the sideline reporter.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Westwood One Sports. Kevin Kugler and James Lofton will call the game. Steve Tasker will report from the sidelines.

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 Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis.

BILL BELICHICK ONE WIN AWAY FROM TYING CHUCK NOLL FOR FIFTH PLACE ALL-TIME
Bill Belichick won his 208th career game last week against the Buccaneers, bringing him within one win of tying Chuck Noll for fifth place on the NFL’s all-time wins list.

SERIES HISTORY

The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will clash this week for the 13th time in the regular season and for the first time since 2009 when the Patriots beat the Falcons, 26- 10, on Sept. 27 at Gillette Stadium. That victory tied the alltime series at 6-6.

The 2009 victory also marked the Falcons’ first trip to Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots have won the last three times the teams have played in the regular season with wins in 2001 and 2005 at the Georgia Dome in addition to the 2009 victory.

Prior to those three wins, the Patriots had suffered four straight losses to the Falcons, dating back to 1989.

The two teams spent a week working with each other at the Falcons facility prior to a 2010 preseason game.

QB Tom Brady’s first start against an NFC team was on Nov. 4, 2001 against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Brady completed 21-of-31 passes for 250 and three touchdowns in a 24-10 win.

SERIES BREAKDOWN
Overall Record ................................6-6
Home Record................................... 3-2
Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium .............2-2
Gillette Stadium ..............................1-0
Away Record ...................................3-4
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium .................1-2
Georgia Dome...................................2-2
Bill Belichick vs. Atlanta Falcons ........... 3-1 (3-0 with NE)
Mike Smith vs. New England Patriots .... 0-1
Total Points Falcons 277, Patriots 219
Current Streak Patriots, 3 wins

PATRIOTS IN SUNDAY NIGHT GAMES
The Patriots are 18-16 all-time on Sunday Night Football. New England is 11-6 at home and 6-4 at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football. The last nine times the Patriots have played on NBC, seven have been on the road. The Patriots of have two of their last three road games on Sunday Night Football.

CONSECUTIVE AWAY GAMES UNDER BILL BELICHICK
The Patriots will play consecutive games on the road for the 25th time under Bill Belichick when they travel to Atlanta this weekend to play the Falcons and Cincinnati the following weekend to play the Bengals. Since 2000, Belichick’s Patriots have compiled a 33-17 record for a .660 winning percentage when playing more than one consecutive game on the road. The Patriots have played two away games in a row 22 times since 2000, earning a 29-15 record in those contests. They have also played three away games in a row twice since 2000, with a 4-2 record in those games. Under Belichick’s tenure, the Patriots have won back-to-back games on the road 10 times and have lost consecutive road games just twice. The Patriots were 3-1 in their two pairs of consecutive away games in 2012, splitting a late September road trip with a loss in Baltimore and a win in Buffalo before earning back-to-back road wins against the New York Jets on Nov. 22 and the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 2.

CONNECTIONS

New England Ties
  • Falcons Owner Arthur Blank graduated from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson was named in Blank’s honor in 1998.
  • Falcons Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter served as the offensive coordinator at Boston College from 1994-1995.
  • Falcons Offensive Line Coach Paul Dunn served as the offensive line coach at the University of Maine from 1990- 1993.
  • Falcons Linebackers Coach Glenn Pires, a native of New Bedford, Mass., was a four-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Springfield College. Pires began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Melrose (Mass.) High School and also served as the defensive line/linebackers coach at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. from 1985- 1988.
  • Falcons QB Matt Ryan was a standout quarterback at Boston College from 2004-2007. Ryan led the Eagles to national prominence in his junior and senior year, compiling back-to-back 10-plus win seasons and earning First-Team All-America and ACC Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2007.
  • Falcons T Jeremy Trueblood was also a member of the Boston College Eagles from 2002-2005 and started at left tackle on Matt Ryan’s offensive line during the 2005 season. Trueblood received Second-Team All-ACC honors as a senior in 2005.
  • Falcons CB Robert McClain was a defensive back and return specialist at Connecticut, where he compiled 10 career interceptions and one punt return for a touchdown during his four-year career from 2006-2009.

Atlanta Ties
  • Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard is a native of Rochelle, Ga., and played football at Wilcox County High School, located about 150 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Former Patriots
  • Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff was the Director of College Scouting in New England from 2003- 2007. During his five-year tenure overseeing the Patriots area scouts, the Patriots compiled a 77-17 and won two Super Bowls (2003 and 2004). Dimitroff’s father, Tom, also played one year for the Boston Patriots in 1960.
  • Falcons Defensive Line Coach Ray Hamilton played his entire nine-year NFL career as a defensive tackle in New England and is fifth on the Patriots all-time sack list with 54. Hamilton also had two coaching stints in New England as an assistant defensive line coach from 1985-1989 and Defensive Line Coach from 1997-1999. He graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, Mass. in 1977.
  • Falcons CB Asante Samuel was selected by New England in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and spent five seasons with the Patriots from 2003-2007. Samuel recorded 22 interceptions in New England including a career-high 10 picks in 2006, the second-most by a Patriot all-time behind Ron Hall (11 in 1964). Samuel reached the Pro Bowl in 2007 before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 29, 2008.

Former Falcons
  • Patriots OL Will Svitek signed with Atlanta on Feb. 12, 2009 and appeared in 45 games, primarily at left tackle, in four seasons with the club before signing with the Patriots on March 17, 2013.

Former NFL Teammates
  • Patriots DB Kyle Arrington (2008-2009), RB LeGarrette Blount (2010-2012) and CB Aqib Talib (2008-2012) were all teammates with Falcons T Jeremy Trueblood on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. K Matt Bryant also joined Arrington and Talib on the Buccaneers during the 2008 season.
  • Patriots OL Will Svitek and Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez were teammates for three seasons from 2005-2007 on the Kansas City Chiefs. Svitek and Gonzalez were also teammates on the Falcons from 2009 to 2012.
  • Falcons RB Steven Jackson was teammates with Patriots WR Danny Amendola for four seasons (2009- 2012) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui for two seasons (2010-2011) on the St. Louis Rams.
  • Patriots DT Tommy Kelly was teammates with Falcons LB Omar Gaither during the 2012 season on the Oakland Raiders.

Former College Teammates
  • Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount and Falcons WR Drew Davis were teammates at the University of Oregon for two seasons from 2008-2009.
  • Patriots RB Brandon Bolden was teammates with Falcons DT Jeria Perry during the 2008 season at the University of Mississippi.
  • Patriots LB Dont’a Hightower and Falcons WR Julio Jones were teammates for three seasons (2008-2010) at the University of Alabama and both played critical roles in the Crimson Tide’s 14-0 national championship season in 2009.
  • Patriots LB Chris White was teammates with Falcons LB Jamar Chaney during the 2009 season at Mississippi State.
  • Patriots WR Josh Boyce was teammates with Falcons DE Stansly Maponga for three seasons (2010-2012) at TCU.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK VS. ATLANTA

TOM BRADY
  • Tom Brady needs one touchdown pass against the Falcons to extend his streak to 52 straight games with at least one touchdown pass. It is the second longest streak of all time, behind Drew Brees (54).
  • Brady (139) needs one more win to become the fifth NFL starting quarterback to lead his team to at least 140 regular season victories and join Brett Favre (186), Peyton Manning (157), John Elway (148) and Dan Marino (147).
  • Brady tied Drew Brees with his ninth NFL game with four touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions against St. Louis (10/28/12) and needs one more such game to be alone in first place.
  • Brady has the fifth most 300-yard games in NFL history with 53, behind Peyton Manning (75), Drew Brees (70), Dan Marino (63) and Brett Favre (62).
  • Brady (339) needs three touchdowns against the Falcons to move into a tie with Fran Tarkenton (342) for fourth place all-time.
  • Brady needs one more touchdown to become the fifth NFL player with at least 340 career touchdown passes.

JULIAN EDELMAN
  • Julian Edelman has the highest punt return average in NFL history at 13.0 (83-1076) and is one of seven NFL players with a punt return average of 12.0 or above.
  • Edelman needs one more punt return for a touchdown to set the team mark with his fourth punt returned for a touchdown. He is tied with Irving Fryar and Troy Brown with three returns for a touchdown.

STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
  • Stephen Gostkowski is tied with Adam Vinatieri for the team lead with eight career 50-yard field goals and needs one more to break the tie and become the team’s all-time leader.

ROB NINKOVICH
  • Rob Ninkovich has the most fumble recoveries of any NFL player over the last four years (2010-13) with 10 and can add on to that total with a fumble recovery against the Falcons.

AQIB TALIB
  • Aqib Talib needs an interception against Atlanta to register an interception in his third straight game after recording two fourth quarter interceptions vs. NY Jets (9/12) and a second quarter interception vs. Tampa Bay (9/22).

LEON WASHINGTON
  • Leon Washington needs one more kick returned for a touchdown to set the NFL record. He is tied with Josh Cribbs with eight career returns for a touchdown.

TEAM
  • The Patriots have forced a turnover in 30 straight games dating back to 2011. The last time the Patriots did not register at least one turnover was on Oct. 9, 2011 vs. the New York Jets.
  • A win over Atlanta will give the Patriots its first 4-0 start since 2007 and its seventh time starting the season at 4-0.
  • The Patriots will attempt to extend their streak to four straight games without allowing an opponent score in the fourth quarter.
  • The Patriots have allowed just 34 points in the first three games and need to hold Atlanta under six points to set the team mark for fewest points allowed in the first four games of the season. The 1997 team allowed just 40 points in the first four games.

PATRIOTS OFF TO A 3-0 START FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2007
The Patriots are 3-0 for the eighth time in team history and for the first time since 2007. New England is now 3-0 for the fourth time under Head Coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots also started 3-0 in 1964, 1974, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2007. In the NFL since 1990, 75.4 percent of teams (86 of 114) that started 3-0 have made the playoffs.

PATRIOTS DEFENSE STARTS 2013 SEASON STRONG; TEAM ALLOWS FEWEST POINTS THROUGH THREE GAMES SINCE 1979
The Patriots have allowed a total of 34 points through three games this season. The Patriots defense has allowed only 27 points this season (seven opponent points came on a fumble return). The 34 total points allowed by the Patriots are the fewest for the team through three games since 1979, when New England started the season by allowing 33 points in the first three games (losing 16-13 to Pittsburgh in overtime, beating the New York Jets 56-3, and then winning 20-14 at Cincinnati). The 34 points allowed are the second fewest in team history in the first three games, trailing only the 1979 team.