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Game Preview: New England vs. Cincinnati

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The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will open the 2005 preseason on Aug. 12 in Cincinnati, just over six months after claiming the franchise's third world title in Super Bowl XXXIX. In those six months, the team has been steadily preparing for the new campaign and has directed its focus to the many challenges that each new season brings. New England has continued to build its squad through the draft, trades and free agency, and the Patriots' 2005 edition will see game action for the first time in preparation for the regular-season opener against the Oakland Raiders on Sept. 8.

SERIES HISTORY

The Patriots and Bengals will meet this week for the fifth time in preseason play and for the third time in less than a calendar year. Last season, the Patriots played the Bengals in the preseason (8/21/04) and also in the regular season (12/12/04). New England holds a 1-3 preseason record against the Bengals but has an 11-8 advantage in the regular-season series between the clubs. Last year, the Bengals were victorious in the preseason meeting by a 31-3 margin, but the Patriots achieved payback with a 35-28 win in the clubs' regular-season meeting, a win that clinched a playoff berth and the 2004 AFC East title.

LOCAL BROADCAST

TELEVISON: This week's game is the first of three preseason telecasts broadcast locally by WCVB-TV, Channel 5 in Boston, the flagship station on the Patriots preseason television network. The Patriots network also includes WMUR Channel 9 in Manchester, N.H. Other fans throughout New England should check their local listings for additional stations and times. Veteran CBS broadcaster Don Criqui provides play-by-play and is joined by three-time NFL Pro Bowler and CBS analyst Randy Cross. WCVB principal sports anchor Mike Lynch offers on-field reports from the sideline.

RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos begins 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.

CINCINNATI CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots running back Corey Dillon spent the first seven years of his career playing for the Bengals and in that time came to own or share 18 different Bengals franchise records.
  • Cincinnati defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan was originally hired by Bill Belichick as a quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns in 1994.
  • While head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Bill Belichick hired Darrin Simmons as a coaching intern. Simmons is currently the special teams coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and was also a college teammate of Patriots linebacker Don Davis at the University of Kansas from 1993-94.
  • Patriots asst. head coach/offensive line Dante Scarnecchia and Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson were college teammates at Cal Western from 1968-69. The pair were also assistant coaches on the Cal Western staff in 1970 and 1971. Additionally, Anderson was Corey Dillon's position coach during his seven seasons in Cincinnati.
  • Bengals asst. offensive line coach Bob Surace was an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1995 when Patriots asst. offensive line coach Matt Patricia played center and guard for the Engineers.
  • Patriots quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels was born and raised in Canton, Ohio.
  • Patriots linebackers coach Dean Pees is a native of Dunkirk, Ohio and is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He has also been a defensive coordinator at Miami (Ohio) and the University of Toledo.
  • Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is the son of Ernie Zampese, who was the Patriots' offensive coordinator from 1998-99.
  • Bengals defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle was a collegiate defensive back at the University of Massachusetts from 1974- 75. He was also an assistant coach at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. from 1982-90.
  • Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light was born and raised in Greenville, Ohio, about 90 miles north of Cincinnati.
  • Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel was born in Akron, Ohio and attended Ohio State.
  • Bengals cornerback Deltha O'Neal and Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain played on the same defensive unit at the University of California.
  • Patriots cornerback Duane Starks was a member of the Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens, whose defensive coordinator was current Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
  • Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson attended Ohio State and was recently named to the Buckeyes all-century team.
  • Patriots director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff was born in Barberton, Ohio.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Mike Wright was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended the University of Cincinnati.
  • Patriots defensive lineman Rodney Bailey attended Ohio State, where he was a teammate of Bengals quarterback Craig Krenzel.
  • Patriots safety Guss Scott and Bengals cornerback Keiwan Ratliff were four-year teammates in the University of Florida secondary. Both players were All-Americans in 2003.
  • Patriots linebacker Monty Beisel and Bengals defensive end Duane Clemons were both members of the Kansas City Chiefs during 2001 and 2002 seasons.
  • Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel served as the backup to Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer at USC.

PATRIOTS IN THE PRESEASON

New England has won eight of its last 11 preseason games and has been victorious in 12 of its last 17 preseason contests. The Patriots tied a franchise record with an eight-game preseason winning streak lasting from Aug. 17, 2002 to Aug. 13, 2004. Since Bill Belichick became the head coach, the Patriots hold an overall mark of 14- 7 (.667) in the preseason. Since Bill Belichick took over as head coach of the Patriots in 2000, the team is 4-1 in preseason openers, including last year's 24-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 13. Overall, New England is 16-29 (.356) in preseason openers.

ROSTER RUNDOWN

86
The number of players on the Patriots roster as of Aug. 5.

12
The number of players on the Patriots roster who were drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in their respective seasons.

9
The number of players on the Patriots roster who were drafted in the second round of the NFL draft in their respective seasons.

23
The number of rookies and first-year players on the Patriots roster.

26
The number of players on the Patriots roster who were drafted by the team in the last four drafts (2002-05).

34
The number of players who have been added to the roster since Super Bowl XXXIX.

43
The number of Patriots who have accrued three or more seasons of NFL experience entering 2005.

43
The number of Patriots who have accrued two or fewer seasons of NFL experience entering 2005.

52
The number of Patriots currently on the roster who have appeared in at least one playoff contest.

2005 MILESTONES

1
The number of victories needed by Head Coach Bill Belichick to reach 100 total victories in his career, including regular season and playoff games.

3
The number of touchdown passes needed by Tom Brady to reach 100 career regular-season touchdowns. He can become the fourth Patriots passer to achieve the feat, joining Steve Grogan (182), Drew Bledsoe (166) and Vito "Babe" Parilli (132).

304
The number of rushing yards needed by Corey Dillon to reach 10,000 yards for his career. Dillon would become the 18th player in NFL history to reach the milestone and the first to do so as a Patriot.

73
The number of points needed by kicker Adam Vinatieri to become the Patriots' all-time leading scorer. He enters 2005 with 1,058 points. Gino Cappelletti (1960-70) holds the franchise record with 1,130 points.

1
The number of sacks needed by Willie McGinest to claim third place on the Patriots' all-time sacks list. He enters 2005 with 72.0 career sacks, trailing Tony McGee (72.5) by 0.5 sacks.

8
The number of sacks McGinest needs to pass Julius Adams (79.5 sacks) for second place on the team's all-time sacks list.

181
The number of receiving yards needed by Kevin Faulk to reach 2,000 for his career. He could become just the third running back in Patriots history to achieve the milestone (Larry Garron, 2,502 and Tony Collins, 2,356).

6
The number of receptions Faulk needs to break into the Patriots' top 10 list for career receptions.

7
The number of receptions Faulk needs to pass Sam Cunningham (210) for second place all-time among Patriots running backs. He would trail only Tony Collins (261).

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