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Division-leading Patriots to face Bills in Buffalo

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-5) vs. BUFFALO BILLS (4-8)
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Ralph Wilson Stadium (73,967)
1:00 p.m. EST

The Patriots begin the fourth quarter of the 2005 regular season this week in Buffalo. New England can clinch the 14th playoff berth in franchise history with a victory and a loss by the Miami Dolphins, but the Patriots face a tough roadblock in the way of that goal. The Bills are 4-2 at home this season, with both losses coming in games decided by just one score.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a regional audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ Channel 4. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst Randy Cross.

RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 36 stations can be found in this press release. Play-byplay broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 29th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Santos and Cappelletti are celebrating their 22nd season as a broadcast tandem.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by the Sports USA Radio Network. Howard David will handle the play-by-play duties and Charles Arbuckle will provide analysis.

PLAYOFF SCENARIO

The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title this week if they defeat the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins lose on the road at San Diego. If that happens, the first-place Patriots would lead the second-place Dolphins by three games in the standings with three games to play and the Patriots would be assured of winning the tiebreaker over the Dolphins based on a better divisional record. The Patriots have won five division titles in the 11 full seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, and have led the NFL over that span with 12 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl titles. New England has won the AFC East crown in three of the last four seasons (2001, 2003, 2004). The Patriots finished tied for the best record in the AFC East in 2002, but the New York Jets claimed the division crown on the third tiebreaker (record against common opponents). The Patriots have won eight division titles in their 45-year history.

DOMINANT IN DECEMBER

The weather may turn cold late in the NFL season, but in recent years the Patriots have remained red hot. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots have recorded a 16-5 (.762) record in games played in the month of December. New England has historically responded well to cold weather, compiling a 23-2 (.920) record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is below 35 degrees. The Patriots' December dominance has fit into the team's recent history of saving its best football for the end of the season. Since 2001, the Patriots have recorded a 42-7 (.857) record in games played after Nov. 1.

SERIES HISTORY

This week, the Patriots and Bills will meet for the 92nd time since the series between the AFC East rivals began in 1960. The Patriots lead the series 50-40, with one tie. The Patriots' 50 wins over Buffalo are their most over any opponent, seven more than they own over the Indianapolis/Baltimore Colts (43). New England has won nine of its last 10 games against Buffalo, dating back to the 2000 season. 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.

PATRIOTS - BILLS QUICK HITS

  • The Patriots have recorded 50 wins against the Bills, the most against any opponent.
  • Bill Belichick holds a 9-3 career record against Buffalo, including a 9-2 record as head coach of the Patriots.
  • The Patriots and Bills have played in 19 games decided by three points or fewer since 1972.
  • The Patriots are 16-6 against the Bills in their last 22 meetings.
  • Since 1993, the two teams have played five overtime games, good for a total of 51:49 of extra time, almost equaling an entire game.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's defensive game plan from the Giants' Super Bowl XXV win over the Buffalo Bills is permanently on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Bills safety Lawyer Milloy was drafted by the Patriots in the second round (36th overall) in the 1996 NFL Draft. He played in 112 games in eight seasons in New England and earned four Pro Bowl nods.
  • While Belichick was the head coach at Cleveland, he hired Don Blackmon as the linebackers coach. Blackmon is currently in his third season as the linebackers coach for Buffalo. Blackmon also played for the Patriots for eight seasons (1981-87).
  • Bills linebacker London Fletcher was a college teammate of Patriots quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels and Patriots director of pro personnel Nick Caserio at John Carroll University in 1996 and 1997.
  • Patriots wide receivers coach Brian Daboll attended St. Francis High in Buffalo where he lettered in football. He also was a two-year starter at free safety at the University of Rochester.
  • Bills defensive backs coach Steve Szabo was a volunteer coach for the Patriots in 2003.
  • Bills offensive line coach Jim McNally was the offensive line coach at Boston College from 1975-77.
  • Bills defensive tackle Sam Adams' father, Sam Adams, Sr., played for the Patriots for nine seasons (1972-80).
  • Patriots assistant secondary coach Joel Collier's father, Joe Collier, was the Bills head coach from 1966-68.
  • Bills wide receiver Josh Reed was a four-year teammate of Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green at LSU.
  • Bills guard Greg Jerman was born in Hyannis, Mass.

SOLID DOWN THE STRETCH

Over the last four seasons, the Patriots have stepped things up a notch as the calendar has flipped to November. Since 2001, New England has done a remarkable job of finishing the season strong, compiling a 42-7 (.857) record after Nov. 1, including playoff games. In fact, since the 2003 season, the Patriots are 25-3 893) in games played in November or later, and New England has won 26 of its last 29 games post-Nov. 1. Their record in such games is the best in the NFL since 2001.

HOT WHEN IT'S COLD

The Patriots are 23-2 (.920) since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or colder. New England has won 14 consecutive games when the temperature has been 35 or less, including a 16-3 victory over the N.Y. Jets on a 26-degree afternoon in Foxborough on Dec. 4, 2005. The last time the Patriots lost a game in temperatures of 35 degrees or below was on Dec. 24, 2000, when they dropped a 27-24 decision to Miami on a 31-degree day at Foxboro Stadium. Also since 1993, the Patriots are 19-1 when the temperature is 34 degrees or colder, and 13-0 when it's 30 degrees or colder.

BEAST OF THE EAST

New England has the best record among AFC East teams in division games since the beginning of the 2001 season (23-6). New England has won 13 of its last 14 divisional games. In their last 26 divisional games, the Patriots are 22-4. Tom Brady is 23-5 in his career as a starter against divisional opponents and has thrown for 39 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions in those games.

PASSING PERFORMANCES

Tom Brady is slated to start against Buffalo for the 10th time in his career. The Patriots signal caller has led the Patriots to eight victories over the Bills, his highest such total over any single opponent.

TOM ON TURF

  • Tom Brady has compiled a career record of 12-1 as a starter in games played on artificial turf. His only loss came on Sept. 7, 2003 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium.
  • In his 13 previous starts on artificial turf, Brady has thrown 25 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.
  • Brady will start his second game of the year on artificial turf. In his only start on artificial turf this season (at Atlanta on Oct. 9), he posted a season-best 140.4 passer rating and completed 81.5 percent of his passes (22-27) for 350 yards and three touchdowns.

THIS WEEK IN PATRIOTS HISTORY

DECEMBER 5-11

Dec. 10, 1978-The Patriots clinch their first outright divisional championship in the club's history with a last minute 26-24 victory over Buffalo at Schaefer Stadium.

Dec. 7, 1986-Wide receiver Stanley Morgan establishes a new team record for catches in a single season with his 67th reception. Morgan, who finished the season with 84 catches, broke Derrick Ramsey's previous mark of 66 grabs, set in 1984.

Dec. 8, 1996-The Patriots clinch their second playoff berth in two years by defeating the N.Y. Jets 34-10 at Foxboro Stadium. The Patriots would go on to win the AFC Championship and advance to Super Bowl XXXI.

Dec. 6, 1999-In a Foxborough town meeting, over 93 percent of the town's residents vote in favor of passing six necessary articles to approve construction on a new stadium, now Gillette Stadium.

Dec. 7, 2003-The Patriots defeat the Miami Dolphins, 12-0, in snowy Foxborough to claim the seventh division title in franchise history en route to the team's second Super Bowl championship in three years.

Dec. 5, 2004-Bethel Johnson returns the game's opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to kick-start a 42-15 road victory over the Cleveland Browns.

ICE MEN

18-0
Tom Brady's career record as a starter when the game-time temperature is less than 40 degrees (including playoffs).

11
The number of times Brady has not thrown an interception in his 18 starts when the game-time temperature is less than 40 degrees.

34-for-38
Adam Vinatieri's field goal success rate in his last 17 games when the game-time time temperature is less then 40 degrees (89.5 percent). The success streak includes a 13-for-14 performance in playoff games and dates back to Dec. 16, 2001.

23-2
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 35 degrees or less (.920 winning percentage).

19-1
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 34 degrees or less (.950 winning percentage).

13-0
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 30 degrees or less.

9-0
The Patriots' all-time record in snowy games in Foxborough. The franchise moved there from Boston in 1971.

AUTOMATIC ADAM

24
The number of consecutive fourth-quarter field goals Adam Vinatieri has made since missing a 43-yarder in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 8, 2002.

96.8%
Vinatieri's success rate in the second half of games since the 2003 season finale. He has hit 30 of his 31 second-half field goals since that time.

22-for-23
Vinatieri's accuracy numbers since the beginning of the 2001 season when the Patriots are either leading or behind by a touchdown or less.

20
The number of game-winning kicks Vinatieri has converted in his career, including two this season, 12 since the beginning of the 2001 season and two in Super Bowl play.

1,135
The number of points Vinatieri has scored in his career, setting the Patriots' all-time record (Gino Cappelletti ranks second with 1,130 points).

260
The number of successful field goals Vinatieri has made in his career, the most in Patriots history.

156
Consecutive games in which Vinatieri has played, establishing the second longest streak in team history. He trails only Raymond Clayborn's franchise record (161). Vinatieri has not missed a game in his 10-year career.

THE BELICHICK ERA

68-32
Bill Belichick's overall record as head coach of the Patriots, including the regular season and the playoffs.

33-1
Belichick's record in New England when his team scores 25 points or more.

53-4
Belichick's record in New England when his team scores 21 points or more.

CONSECUTIVE STREAKS

74
Consecutive games in which Tom Brady has started at quarterback, the longest consecutive starts streak on the team.

34
Consecutive games in which Willie McGinest has started at outside linebacker, the longest consecutive starts streak on the Patriots defense.

45
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have gone without recording back-to-back losses.

14
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won when the game-time temperature is 35 degrees or less.

3
The number of consecutive divisional games in which the Patriots have not allowed a point in the first quarter.

255
Consecutive Patriots games televised locally, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games.

123
Consecutive sellouts in Foxborough, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games.

NOTE: All of the above streaks include regular-season games only, unless noted.

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