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Game Notes: Patriots win 12 games for sixth straight season

TEAM NOTES 

PATRIOTS WIN 12 GAMES FOR SIXTH STRAIGHT SEASON; SECOND TEAM TO EVER HAVE AT LEAST 6 STRAIGHT 12-WIN SEASONS
The Patriots earned their 12th win of the 2015 season. It is their sixth straight season with at least 12 wins. The Patriots became the second NFL team to win at least 12 games in six straight seasons. Indianapolis had seven straight seasons of 12 or more wins from 2003-09.

TEAMS WITH MOST CONSECUTIVE 12-WIN SEASONS SINCE 1970 MERGER
Indianapolis Colts        7 (2003-09)
New England Patriots        6 (2010-15)
Dallas Cowboys        4 (1992-95)

PATRIOTS HAVE 10th SEASON WITH AT LEAST 12 WINS
The Patriots have won at least 12 games 10 times in team history, including six straight seasons from 2010-15. The win vs. Tennessee ties Denver for third-most since the NFL merger.

MOST 12-WIN SEASONS SINCE 1970 MERGER
1. San Francisco    13
2. Dallas    11
3t. New England    10
3t. Denver     10 
5. Pittsburgh     9
6. Indianapolis     8

PATRIOTS PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
The Patriots have clinched the 2015 AFC East championship and a berth in the playoffs. If (1) Pittsburgh defeats Denver later today, or (2) Pittsburgh and Denver tie and San Francisco beats Cincinnati later today, the Patriots would clinch a first-round playoff bye. The Patriots have earned a first-round bye in an NFL-record five consecutive seasons (2010-2014) and are seeking their sixth straight bye. Dallas and San Francisco earned four straight byes from 1992 through 1995.The Patriots earned a first-round bye in the 2014 NFL playoffs and lead the NFL with 10 first-round byes since the current NFL playoff format was instituted in 1990. 

MOST SEASONS EARNING A BYE SINCE 12-TEAM PLAYOFF FORMAT SINCE 1990
New England    10
Pittsburgh    8
San Francisco    8
Denver    7

PATRIOTS CONTINUE DECEMBER REIGN
The Patriots won their second consecutive December game to improve to a league-leading 54-9 (.857) in December games since 2001.

PATRIOTS HAVE A SACK IN EVERY GAME SO FAR IN 2015
The Patriots had five sacks against Tennessee and have recorded at least one sack in every game so far in 2015. The Patriots finished with a sack in every game in 1979, 1977, 1973 and 1963. The Patriots have streak of 27 straight games with at least one sack, the longest streak in the NFL. The last time the Patriots did not have a sack was vs. Oakland on Sept. 21, 2014.

NEW ENGLAND HAS THE BEST RECORD SINCE 2010 IN FINAL FOUR GAMES
New England has posted an NFL-best 19-3 (.864) record in the final four games of the regular season since 2010, including a 3-1 record down the stretch last season en route to a Super Bowl XLIX title.

THE PATRIOTS HAVE WON 21 STRAIGHT HOME GAMES AGAINST NON-DIVISION AFC OPPONENTS
The Patriots have now won 21 straight home games against non-division AFC opponents. Their last loss to a non-division AFC team was a 33-10 loss vs. Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2008. 

PATRIOTS DEFENSE SCORES FIRST TOUCHDOWN OF THE YEAR
DE Chandler Jones forced a fumble that was recovered in the end zone by DE Akiem Hicks for a touchdown. It is the Patriots first defensive touchdown of the season and first time the Patriots scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone since Chandler Jones did it at Baltimore on December 22, 2013. It is the first defensive touchdown since Rob Ninkovich scored on a 15-yard fumble return vs Chicago on Oct. 26, 2015.  The touchdown was the first of Hicks's career.

QUICK HITS

  • The Patriots tied their 2015 season high by forcing three Titans turnovers (2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery). The Patriots also forced three turnovers at Buffalo on Sept. 20.  
  • The Patriots have allowed opponents to score 269 points in 2015 (19.2 points per game). The Patriots have allowed fewer than 20 points per game in nine of the last 14 seasons, dating back to 2001, which is the second most in the NFL over that span (Baltimore, 10).

INDIVIDUAL NOTES 

BELICHICK IS IMPRESSIVE IN DECEMBER
Bill Belichick is 55-11 (.833) 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).

BRADY LEADS THE PATRIOTS TO 12 WINS FOR THE 10TH TIME
Since entering the NFL in 2000, Tom Brady's teams have reached 12 regular-season wins in 10 different seasons, second all-time, behind Peyton Manning.

STARTING QBS WITH THE MOST 12-WIN REGULAR SEASONS IN NFL HISTORY
PLAYER  | SEASONS
Peyton Manning    11
Tom Brady    10
Brett Favre    6
John Elway    4
Jim Kelly    4

BRADY TIED NFL RECORD FOR MOST SEASONS WITH 35 TDS;BRADY JOINS MANNING WITH 4 SEASONS OF 35 TDS
Tom Brady threw two first half touchdown passes to reach 35 touchdowns for 2015. He now joins Peyton Manning as the only NFL quarterbacks with four seasons with 35 or more touchdowns

QBS WITH THE MOST 35+ PASSING TOUCHDOWNS IN NFL HISTORY
PLAYER  | 35+ TD SEASONS
Tom Brady        4 (50 in 2007, 36 in 2010 and 39, 2011, 35 in 2015)
Peyton Manning        4 (49 in 2004, 37 in 2012, 55 in 2013, 39 in 2014)
Brett Favre        3 (38 in 1995, 39 in 1996 and 35 in 1997)
Drew Brees        3 (46 in 2011, 43 in 2012 and 39 in 2013)
Aaron Rodgers        3 (45 in 2011, 39 in 2012 and 38 in 2014).

BRADY ONE OF THE BEST FINAL FOUR QUARTERBACKS
Tom Brady is one of the best final four quarterbacks in the NFL.

TOM BRADY GETTING CLOSE TO SECOND CAREER 5,000-YARD SEASON
Tom Brady has 4,405 yards passing through 14 games in 2015. Brady needs to average 297.5 yards in the final two games to reach 5,000 yards. 

MOST PASSING YARDS IN A SEASON
Player  |  Yards
Peyton Manning (2013)    5,477
Drew Brees (2011)    5,476
Tom Brady (2011)    5,235
Drew Brees (2012)    5,177
Drew Brees (2013)    5,162
Dan Marino (1984)    5,084
Drew Brees (2008)    5,069
Matthew Stafford (2011)    5,038

GRONK MOVING UP
Rob Gronkowski has 65 career touchdowns overall (64 receiving, 1 rushing), which ranks
second in team history to the 68 total touchdowns by Stanley Morgan. He stands alone
with the most TDs by a Patriots tight end.

MOST CAREER TOUCHDOWNS BY A PATRIOTS PLAYER
Player    |    Touchdowns
1. Stanley Morgan        68 (67 rec, 1 ret)
2. Rob Gronkowski        65 (64, rec, 1 rush)
3. Ben Coates        50
4. Randy Moss        50
5. Sam Cunningham        49
6. Jim Nance        46
7. Tony Collins        44 

MOST TOUCHDOWN RECEPTIONS BY A PATRIOTS PLAYER
Player     |   Touchdowns
1. Stanley Morgan        67
2. Rob Gronkowski        64
2. Ben Coates        50
2. Randy Moss        50

GRONK-BRADY MOVES INTO SOLE POSSESION OF 8TH PLACE
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter for the 64th touchdown connection between the two. That moved them out of a tie with Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry (63) for sole possession of 8th place for most touchdown connections all-time. Jim Kelly-Andree Reed are in 7th place with 65 touchdown connections. 

GRONKOWSKI ON PACE TO CHALLENGE HIS OWN RECORD
Rob Gronkowski has 1,072 passing yards in 2015 and is on pace to finish the 2015 season with 1,225 receiving yards. Gronkowski holds the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 1,327 receiving yards in 2011. 

GOSTKOWSKI ON PACE TO CHALLENGE NFL RECORD FOR POINTS
Stephen Gostkowski has 139 points through 14 games in 2015, putting him on pace to finish the 2015 season with 159 points. Gostkowski finished first in the NFL in 2014 with 156 points, second only to his team record of 158 points in 2013. Gostkowski led the NFL in scoring in 2014 for the third straight season. He is the first NFL player with three seasons of 150 or more points.  

NFL Record for Most Points by a Kicker
166    David Akers (SF) in 2011
164    Gary Anderson (MIN) in 1998
163    Jeff Wilkins (STL in 2003
161    Mark Moseley (WAS) in 1983
158    Stephen Gostkowski (NE) in 2013
157    Mike Vanderjagt (Indianapolis) in 2003
156    Stephen Gostkowski (NE) in 2014 
153 Stephen Gostkowski (NE) in 2012

Patriots Record for Most Points in a Season
158    Stephen Gostkowski, 2013
156    Stephen Gostkowski, 2014
155    Gino Cappelletti, 1964 (includes 7 TDs)
153    Stephen Gostkowski, 2012
148    Stephen Gostkowski, 2008
147    Gino Cappelletti, 1961
143    Stephen Gostkowski, 2011

DL CHANDLER JONES SETS CAREER HIGH IN SACKS
DE Chandler Jones was credited with a sack when he forced a fumble in the first quarter that was recovered for a touchdown by DE Akiem Hicks. He added a third quarter sack to push his 2015 total to a career-high 12 ½ sacks. His previous best was 11 ½ sacks in 2013. The 12 ½ sacks tie Mike Vrabel (2007) and Andre Tippett (1987) for third all-time in New England history behind the 18 ½ by Tippett in 1984 and the 16 ½ by Tippett in 1984. 

PATRIOTS 10-PLUS SACK SEASONS
Sacks  |  Player    |    Year
12.0     Tony McGee         1977
10.0     Bobby Hamilton     1977
11.5     Tony McGee         1978
10.5     Tony McGee         1979
18.5     Andre Tippett     1984
16.5     Andre Tippett     1985
10.0     Garin Veris         1985 
11.0     Garin Veris         1986
12.5     Andre Tippett     1987
11.0     Willie McGinest     1995
12.5     Mike Vrabel         2007
10.0     Tully Banta-Cain    2009
10.0     Mark Anderson    2011
10.0     Andre Carter        2011
11.5    Chandler Jones    2013
12.5    Chandler Jones    2015

JONES HAS NINTH CAREER MULTIPE SACK GAME; FOURTH MULITPLE SACK GAME OF 2015
Jones had his ninth career game with multiple sacks and his fourth game in 2015 with multiple sacks. 

KESHAWN MARTIN SETS CAREER BEST WITH A 75-YARD KICKOFF RETURN
WR Keshawn Martin set a career best with a 75-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. His previous best was a 54-yard return during his rookie season while with Houston vs. Jacksonville (11-18-12). It is the longest since an 81-yard return by Danny Amendola Nov. 23, 2014 vs. Detroit.

JAMES WHITE SCORES FOR FIFTH TIME IN FIVE GAMES
RB James White scored on a 30-yard reception in the second quarter to give New England a 21-3 lead. The touchdown was White's fifth in the last five games (2 rushing, 3 receiving), which is the most by any Patriots player over that span.  

QUICK HITS

Jamie Collins intercepted a Zach Mettenberger pass intended for Delanie Walker in the fourth quarter and returned it 51 yards to give the Patriots possession at the Titans' 16-yard line, setting up Stephen Gostkowski's 32-yard field goal that gave the Patriots a 33-16 lead with 1:06 left in the game. The interception was Collins's first of the season and the third of his regular-season career. He also has two career playoff interceptions.

Jamie Collins sacked Titans QB Marcus Mariota for an 8-yard sack on third down in the second quarter, and Tennessee settled for a field goal on the next play.

Patrick Chung stopped Tennessee RB Antonio Andrews for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Patriots' 38-yard line in the second quarter.

Jabaal Sheard sacked Titans QB Zach Mettenberger for a 10-yard loss on the final play of the first half.

Akiem Hicks sacked Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota for a 5-yard loss on second down in the first quarter, forcing the Titans into a third down that they did not convert.

Sealver Siliga stopped Tennessee FB Jalston Fowler for no gain on third-and-1 in the second quarter, forcing a Titans punt on the next play.

Jordan Richards broke up a Zach Mettenberger pass intended for Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham on second down in the third quarter after Mettenberger was pressured by Rob Ninkovich, forcing a third-and-long that the Titans did not convert.

The Patriots held the Titans to a 25% third-down conversion percentage (3-for-12), marking the fourth time in the last five games that the Patriots have held their opponents to 25% or less on third down. The Patriots have held opponents to 25% or less on third down five times in 2015.

New England has recovered opponent fumbles in six of the last seven games.  In the first seven games of the season, the Patriots recovered opponent fumbles in two games.

Stephen Gostkowski had four field goals, tying his season high (at Buffalo, Sept. 20).

Rookie running back Joey Iosefa led the Patriots with 51 rushing yards in his NFL debut.

LINEUP NOTES

WR LEONARD HANKERSON PLAYS IN FIRST GAME WITH THE PATRIOTS
WR Leonard Hankerson played in his first game with the Patriots. 

RB JOEY IOSEFA PLAYS IN FIRST NFL GAME
RB Joey Iosefa made his NFL debut on special teams and as a running back on offense. 

DAVID ANDREWS STARTED AT CENTER
David Andrews, who started the first ten games at center, started against Titans in place of Bryan Stork, who was inactive for the game. 

JORDAN RICHARDS MAKES FIRST NFL START
2015 second round draft pick Jordan Richards made his first NFL start when the Patriots opened in the nickel defense.

LB DONT'A HIGHTOWER RETURNS TO ACTION
LB Dont'a Hightower returned to the starting lineup after missing two games due to injury. 

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