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Patriots to ring in New Year with the Bills

Posted Dec 27, 2011

The New England Patriots (12-3) and the Buffalo Bills (6-9) will meet for the 104th time on New Years day at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots can clinch homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if either of the following happen: 1.) A Patriots win or tie over Buffalo; 2). A Baltimore loss or tie plus a Pittsburgh loss or tie.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-3) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (6-9)
Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. EST
Gillette Stadium (68,756)

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New England's 27-24 victory over Miami last week clinched a first-round playoff bye. The Patriots can clinch homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if either of the following happen: 1.) A Patriots win or tie over Buffalo; 2). A Baltimore loss or tie plus a Pittsburgh loss or tie. The Patriots have earned the number one seed three times (2010, 2007 and 2003) in the past nine seasons.

PATRIOTS CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH FOR THE 13TH TIME IN KRAFT'S 18 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP
The Patriots have qualified for the playoffs 19 times in their 52-year history. They have earned 13 playoff berths in the 18 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence. New England has won 11 AFC East crowns under Kraft's leadership. New England has won 14 division crowns overall (13 AFC East Crowns) and has qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players' strike. The Patriots are guaranteed to host their 14th playoff home playoff game in 18 years. In the 34 year prior to Kraft's ownership, the Patriots hosted just one playoff game.

RECORD SETTING PATRIOTS
* Wes Welker - Set the franchise record for most receiving yards in a season after adding 138 yards against Miami to push his total to 1,518 yards. He surpassed Randy Moss who had 1,493 yards in 2007.

* TE Rob Gronkowski - Moved past TE Ben Coates (1,174) to set the franchise record for most receiving yards by a Patriots tight end with 1,219 yards. Gronkowski needs 72 yards to surpass San Diego's Kellen Winslow's 1980 record of 1,290 yards for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end.

* QB Tom Brady (4,897) has the fourth highest single season passing total and needs 103 yards in the final game to become the third quarterback in NFL history to reach 5,000 yards.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Don Criqui will handle play-by-play duties with Randy Cross providing color. The game will be produced by Ken Mack and directed by Chris Svendsen.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Sports USA Radio Network. Tom McCarthy and Ross Tucker 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 Bills will meet for the 104th time, with New England holding a 61-41-1 edge. After seven straight series sweeps and 15 straight wins, Buffalo ended the streak with a 34- 31 victory Ralph Wilson Stadium in the first meeting of the two teams in 2011 on Sept. 25.

The 15-game win streak is the third longest winning streak over a single opponent in NFL history.

The series between the AFC East rivals began in 1960. The Patriots' 61 wins over the Bills are their highest victory total over any opponent, eight more than they own over the New York Jets (53). New England has won 20 of its last 23 games against Buffalo dating back to the 2000 season.

The Patriots are 29-22-1 all-time in Buffalo, including 22-16 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Patriots are 32- 19 all-time in home games against Buffalo, including 9-0 at Gillette Stadium.

The teams have had many memorable matchups over the years, including a five-game span from 1999 to 2001 where four of the five contests were decided in overtime.

SERIES TRENDS
  • Home Record, 32-19
  • Record in Foxborough, 26-14
  • Foxboro Stadium, 17-14
  • Gillette Stadium, 9-0
  • Record in Boston, 6-5
  • Away Record, 29-22-1
  • War Memorial Stadium, 7-6-1
  • Ralph Wilson/Rich Stadium, 22-16
  • Largest Margin of Victory, 46 points (2007)
  • Largest Margin of Defeat, 35 points (1970)
  • Longest Win Streak, 15 games (2003-2010
  • Bill Belichick vs. Buffalo Bills, 20-4 (20-3 with N.E)

PATRIOTS - BILLS QUICK HITS
  • The Patriots have won 10 straight games against Buffalo at home, including a perfect 9-0 record at Gillette Stadium.
  • The Patriots have recorded 61 wins over the Bills, the most by the Patriots against any one opponent.

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Tom Brady has led the Patriots to 17 regular season victories over the Bills, recording his highest regular season victory total over any opponent. Additionally, Brady has thrown for more touchdowns (43) against Buffalo than any other opponent.

BRADY AGAINST THE AFC EAST
As a starter against the AFC East, Tom Brady owns a 48-12 (.800) record. He is 17-2 against Buffalo, 15-4 against the New York Jets, 14-6 against Miami and was 2-0 against Indianapolis when they were in the AFC East (2001 season).

CONNECTIONS

NEW ENGLAND TIES
  • Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played quarterback for Harvard University from 2001- 2004.
  • Bills S Jon Corto, attended Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. from 2003-2006.
  • Bills WR Marcus Easley, was born in Stratford, Conn. and attended the University of Connecticut from 2006-2010. He became the first UConn WR to be drafted to the NFL after he was selected in the 4th round (107 overall) in the 2010 draft.

BUFFALO TIES
  • Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski grew up in Williamsville, N.Y. just 14 miles outside of Buffalo.

FORMER NFL TEAMATES
  • Patriots LB Tracy White played for the Green Bay Packers with Bills LB Nick Barnett from 2006-08.
  • Bills QB/WR Brad Smith played for the New York Jets from 2006-2010 and was teammates with Patriots DE Shaun Ellis, DB James Ihedigbo, and RB Danny Woodhead.
  • Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich played with Bills SS Bryan Scott in New Orleans for the Saints in 2006.
  • Patriots OG Donald Thomas played with the Miami Dolphins with Bills DE Lionel Dotson from 2008-2010, QB Tyler Thigpen from 2009-2010, and LB Reggie Torbor from 2008-2009.
  • Patriots WR Wes Welker was a member of the San Diego Chargers during the spring of 2004 and played with CB Drayton Florence. Florence also played the 2008 season with Thomas in Miami.
  • Patriots WR Wes Welker (2006), LB Rob Ninkovich (2007), and OG Donald Thomas (2008) all played one year with the Miami Dolphins with Bills WR Derek Hagan.
  • Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich played part of the 2006 season with Bills FB Corey McIntyre with the New Orleans Saints.
  • Patriots LB Tracy White teamed up with Bills WR Ruvell Martin in Green Bay from 2006-2008.
  • Bills K Dave Rayner has played for nine different NFL teams during his five year career. Over the course of his career, Rayner has played with Patriots LB Tracy White (Green Bay,'06), WR Chad Ochocinco (Cincinnati, '08 & '10) and OG Donald Thomas (Miami, '08 & Detroit, '10).
  • Patriots WR Deion Branch played with NT Kyle Williams with the Seattle Seahawks from 2007-2009.

FORMER PATRIOTS
  • Bills TE Lee Smith was a fifth-round draft pick for the Patriots in the 2010 NFL draft. He spent training camp with the Patriots before being released and claimed off waivers by the Bills.
  • Buffalo Bills Defensive Quality Control Coach Adrian White spent his final year as a player in the NFL with the Patriots in 1993.
  • Bills DB Prince Miller, was on the Patriots practice squad from Sept. 7 2010-Sept. 15 before being signed off the practice squad by the Baltimore Ravens.

FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES
  • Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey was the head coach at Georgia Tech from 2002-07, and Patriots LB Gary Guyton played for him during his time with the Yellow Jackets.
NFL'S BEST AT HOME
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 overall. The Patriots own an overall record of 66-13 (.835) at Gillette Stadium in regular season games and a 73-15 (.830) record including playoffs.

UNDEFEATED DECEMBER
The Patriots have an NFL-best 41-5 record in the month of December since the 2001 season, including a 4-0 December record in 2011. The Patriots have now finished undefeated in December seven times during that period: (4-0 in 2011), (2001 - 4-0), (2003 - 4-0), (2005 - 4-0), (2007 - 5-0), (2008 - 4-0) and (2010 -4-0). The Patriots have won 11 straight games in December overall.

BELICHICK IS GOOD IN DECEMBER
Bill Belichick is 43-7 (.860) in December with New England, the best record in December among head coaches with one team in NFL history (min. 25 games). George Seifert is second (27-6, .818).

TWO PATRIOTS REACH 1,000 YARDS
Wes Welker (1,518) and Rob Gronkowski (1,219) are both over 1,000 yards. It is the fifth time in team history that New England has two players over 1,000 receiving yards. Welker and Randy Moss had three straight seasons with 1,000 yards (2007-09). Welker and Moss became the sixth group of NFL teammates to have three straight 1,000 yard seasons. The Patriots also had two receivers reach 1,000 yards in 1979.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

BY THE NUMBERS

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.

2
The number of punts returned by Julian Edelman for touchdowns during his career, the fourth Patriots' player with two or more punt returns for a touchdown.

3
The number of NFL players with four 100-reception seasons after Wes Welker reached 100 receptions in 2011 to join Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison.

7
The number of interceptions by Kyle Arrington to put him in a three-way tie for the NFL lead in 2011.

8
The number of times in NFL history a player reached 1,000 yards in the ninth game of the season after Wes Welker reached the milestone.

9
The number of AFC East title by the Patriots since the 2000 season.

10.0
The number of sacks by Andre Carter in 2011 for his fourth career 10-plus sack season.

15
The number of touchdown catches by TE Rob Gronkowski, the most in NFL history by a tight end in a single season.

16
The number of total touchdown by TE Rob Gronkowski in 2011 (15 rec. and 1 rush.) the highest number of combined touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history.

25
The number of touchdown receptions by Rob Gronkowski since 2010, the most among all NFL tight ends.

21
The number of 10-tackle games by LB Jerod Mayo after he finished with a team-high 13 total tackles vs. Miami (12/24/11).

72
The number of receiving yards that Gronkowski (1,219) needs to set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end. Kellen Winslow has the record with 1,290 in 1980.

114
The number of receiving yards that Wes Welker (1,518) needs to finish in the top ten for a single season in receiving yards.

TOM BRADY BY THE NUMBERS

1
Tom Brady became the first player to follow a 500-yard performance with a 400-yard performance after Brady had backto- back games with 517 yards and 423 yards.

2
Brady joins Drew Brees (2011) as the only players to reach 3,000 yards in the first nine games of the season. Brady (3,032) had the most yards ever through the first nine games of the year.

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), including the postseason.

4
The number of seasons that Brady has reached 4,000 passing yards. His four 4,000 yard seasons are tied with Warren Moon and Philip Rivers for the fifth most in NFL history.

6
Brady became the sixth NFL quarterback in NFL history to have 30 or more touchdowns passes in at least three seasons after reaching 30 vs. Indianapolis (12/4).

11
Tom Brady was the 11th quarterback in NFL history to throw for 500 or more yards after he passed Brady 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.

44
The number of regular season 300-yard passing games by Tom Brady, a team record.

95
The number of times that Brady has thrown two or more touchdowns in a game. The Patriots are 80-15 when he throws for two or more touchdowns.

103
The number of yards that Brady (4,897) needs to become the third player ever to reach 5,000 passing yards in a season.

123
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) of 2011. Brady's 1,327 yards set the NFL mark for the most passing yards ever in a three-game stretch.

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.

11
The number of division championships won by the Patriots since Kraft purchased the team in 1994.

13
The number of playoff seasons earned by the Patriots in the 18 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.

189
Bill Belichick has 189 career victories as a head coach, including playoff games. Belichick moved past Bill Parcells into sole possession of ninth place in all-time coaching victories. Chuck Knox is in 8th place with 193 wins.

PATRIOTS DEDICATE 2011 SEASON TO MYRA KRAFT
The Patriots dedicated 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 are honoring Myra's memory by wearing a patch with her initials on it in recognition of her lifelong contributions to the local and global philanthropic 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.

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