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Game Notes: Patriots have best regular-season road record in the NFL since 2000

TEAM NOTES 

PATRIOTS ARE GOOD ON THE ROAD
Since the start of the 2000 season, the Patriots have the best regular-season road record in the NFL.

PATRIOTS SUCCESS AGAINST THE NFC
The New England Patriots own a 46-11 (.807) record vs. NFC teams since realignment in 2002, the best inter-conference record in the NFL during that time.

PATRIOTS OPEN THE SEASON AGAINST THE NFC FOR THE FIFTH TIME
The Patriots opened the season against an NFC team for the fifth time in team history and for the first time since 2000, when they opened the season at home against Tampa Bay on sept. 3, 2000, a 21-16 loss in head coach Bill Belichick's first ever game as head coach of the Patriots.     

PATRIOTS PUSH SACK STREAK TO 30 STRAIGHT GAMES
The Patriots have now recorded at least one sack in 30 straight games, the longest such streak in the NFL, following rookie DL Vincent Valentine's 3-yard sack in the first quarter. The last game that the Patriots failed to record at least one sack was vs. Oakland on Sept. 21, 2014. Detroit has second longest streak with 22 straight games with a sack. The Patriots' record for most consecutive games with a sack is 36 (1976-1978 - Oct. 31, 1976-Dec. 10, 1978). Valentine, DE Chris Long and LB Jamie Collins registered sacks against the Cardinals. 

PATRIOTS SCORED ON FIRST OFFENSIVE DRIVE OF THE OPENING DAY FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2011
The Patriots scored on their first offensive drive of the 2016 season when Jimmy Garoppolo culminated an 8-play, 83-yard drive with a 37-yard touchdown to WR Chris Hogan. It is the first time the Patriots scored on their first offensive drive in a season opener since 2011 at Miami on Sept. 12, 2011. 

INDIVIDUAL NOTES  

BELICHICK INCHES CLOSER TO PASSING CURLY LAMBEAU
Bill Belichick now has 224 regula-season wins and needs three more regular-season wins to move past Curly Lambeau (226) for fourth place overall, behind Don Shula (328), George Halas (318) and Tom Landry (250). Belichick (247 wins overall) needs three victories to join Don Shula (347) George Halas (324) and Tome Landry (270) as the only coaches to reach 250 career wins. 

JIMMY GAROPPOLO MAKES FIRST NFL START
Jimmy Garoppolo became just the fifth quarterback in the last 30 years to make his first regular-season start in a season-opening night game (Sept. 11, vs. Cardinals). Aaron Rodgers was the last (2008, win vs. Minnesota), with Philip Rivers (2006), David Carr (2002) and Brian Griese (1999) before him. Garoppolo finished 24-of-33 for 264 yards with one touchdown. 

GAROPPOLO MATCHES CAREER HIGH WITH SECOND TD PASS
Garoppolo threw his second career touchdown pass in the first quarter when he completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to WR Chris Hogan. His first touchdown pass was a 13-yarder to TE Rob Gronkowski at Kansas City on Sept. 29, 2014. Garoppplo also matched a career-long. He had a 37-yard pass in that Kansas City game when he connected with WR Brandon LaFell on a 37-yard gain. Garoppolo's 37-yard touchdown pass to Hogan was the longest first touchdown of a season since Drew Bledsoe completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Terry Glenn in the 2000 season opener vs. Tampa Bay (9/3/00). 

GOSTKOWSKI IS GOOD FROM 50
Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He has made has made 78.3 percent of his field goals (18-for-23) from 50 yards or more, converting the highest percentage of 50-plus yard field goal attempts in NFL history (minimum 15 attempts. 

GOSTKOWSKI GAME WINNERS
Gostkowski connected on his eighth game-winning field goal when he kicked a 32-yard field goal with 3:44 left to play in the game. 

EDELMAN HAS FOURTH STRAIGHT OPENING DAY WITH AT LEAST SIX RECEPTIONS
WR Julian Edelman led the team with seven receptions for 66 yards. It is his fourth straight season-opener with at least six receptions. 

LINEUP NOTES

NEW FACES
The Patriots have 18 players on the opening day roster that were not with the team in 2015. 
- 2016 Draft Picks  CB Cyrus Jones, OL Joe Thuney, QB Jacoby Brissett, DL Vincent Valentine, WR Malcolm Mitchell, LB Elandon Roberts and G Ted Karras.
- 2016 rookie free agents – RB D.J. Foster and DB Jonathan Jones 
- Veteran free agents – TE Martellus Bennett, G Jonathan Cooper, TE Clay Harbor, WR Chris Hogan, DL Anthony Johnson, DE Chris Long, LB Shea McClellin, LB Barkevious Mingo and DB Eric Rowe. 

Of that group, 12 saw action in the game against the Cardinals. 

AJ DERBY SEES FIRST NFL ACTION
AJ Derby played in his first NFL game after missing the entire 2015 season due to injury. 

JAMES DEVELN MAKES SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO ACTION
FB James Develin made a successful return to game action after spending the 2015 regular season on injured reserve with an injury that he suffered in the preseason. 

2016 DRAFT PICKS MAKE THE START
Three of the Patriots 2016 draft picks were in the starting lineup with third-round draft pick OL Joe Thuney at left guard, fourth-round pick QB Malcolm Mitchell and sixth-round pick OL Ted Karras at right guard. It is the second straight season that at least two draft picks were in the starting lineup. In 2015, first-round pick DL Malcom Brown started at defensive tackle and fourth-round pick Tre' Jackson started at right guard.

CAMERON FLEMING MAKES SECOND CAREER START AT LEFT TACKLE
Cameron Fleming started at left tackle in place of Nate Solder. It was his second career start at left tackle. Fleming started at left tackle in the 2015 season finale at Miami on Jan. 3, 2016. 

VINCENT VALENTINE RECORDS FIRST NFL SACK
Third-round draft pick DL Vincent Valentine recorded his first NFL sack when he dropped QB Carson Palmer for a 3-yard loss at the end of the first quarter.

2016 SECOND-ROUND PICK CB CYRUS JONES SHOWS VERSATILITY
2016 second-round draft pick CB Cyrus Jones saw his first action in the second quarter when he lined up to return a kick that he returned 26 yards. He also was used in nickel situations and as a punt returner. 

MALCOLM MITCHELL'S FIRST RECPETION GOES FOR 28
WR Malcolm Mitchell's first pass reception resulted in a 28-yard play in the third quarter that helped get in position for a Patriots touchdown. 

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