The New England Patriots are headed to Houston to play in their second Super Bowl in three seasons, representing the AFC against the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. The Patriots return to the Super Bowl as winners of 14 consecutive games, having put together the second longest single-season win streak in NFL history. One more victory added to the string would bring the Lombardi Trophy back to New England and clinch the Patriots' second Super Bowl title just two days shy of the two-year anniversary of their triumph in Super Bowl XXXVI.
The Patriots have won five consecutive playoff games and qualified for the fourth Super Bowl in team history with a 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18 at Gillette Stadium. New England has set a club record with 16 wins, besting the 14-5 mark set by its 2001 NFL championship team. The Patriots own a 9-0 record against teams above .500, but will face their biggest challenge this week on sport's biggest stage.
New England will run into a Carolina team that has shown a flair for the dramatic, having played in five overtime games this season and winning four. The Panthers will provide the Patriots with quite a tough test, as Carolina is coming off of back-to-back playoff victories on the road to secure the first conference title in club history.
Since the Patriots opened training camp more than six months ago, the team has focused on short-term goals to achieve its ultimate objective. Now, just one game from glory, the Patriots' clash with the Panthers promises to provide a memorable finish to what has been one of New England's most fantastic seasons.
Super Bowl XXXVIII will be broadcast nationwide on CBS. The game can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle the play-by-play duties and Phil Simms will provide analysis. Armen Keteyian will provide reports from the Patriots sideline throughout the game.
104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 27th season as the voice of the Patriots and calls the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. In 2003, Santos and Cappelletti celebrate their 20th season as a broadcast tandem.
Westwood One will broadcast Super Bowl XXXVIII to a nationwide audience on more than 500 radio stations across the country. Marv Albert will call the action along with analyst Boomer Esiason. John Dockery and John Riggins will deliver news from the sidelines throughout the game.
The Patriots have won 14 games in a row, compiling the second longest single-season winning streak in NFL history including playoff games. Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins won more consecutive games in one season, sweeping their way to a perfect 17-0 season and a victory in Super Bowl VII. The Patriots have not lost a game since Sept. 28, 2003, and have not trailed in a game since Nov. 23. New England has not fallen behind its opponent in 10 of the streak's 14 games. The first 11 wins in the Patriots' streak were all by 14 points or fewer, making them the first team in league history to win so many games by such a narrow margin.
MOST CONSECUTIVE WINS, SINGLE SEASON
|**Wins**||**Team, Year**||**Playoff Result**|
|17||Miami, 1972||Won Super Bowl VII|
|14||New England, 2003|
|13||Chicago, 1934||Lost in NFL Championship Game|
|Oakland, 1976||Won Super Bowl XI|
|Denver, 1998||Won Super Bowl XXXIII|
The Patriots and Panthers will meet for just the third time in the history of the two clubs. The series began in Carolina's inaugural season of 1995 with a 20-17 overtime win for the Panthers at Foxboro Stadium. The only other time the teams faced off was in the final week of the 2001 regular season, just before New England went on its postseason run to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI. The teams have met four times in preseason play, most recently in the 2002 preseason when the Patriots took a 23-3 victory at Gillette Stadium. The clubs clashed in the preseason for four consecutive years from 1999-2002, with New England winning the final three games of the four-game set.
PATRIOTS 1, PANTHERS 1
|10/29/95||Panthers 20, at Patriots 17 (OT)||-3||Foxboro|
|01/06/02||Patriots 38, at Panthers 6||32||Ericsson|
Record in New England 0-1
Record in Carolina 1-0
Total Points in Series Patriots 55, Panthers 26
Bill Belichick vs. Carolina 1-0 (1-0 with New England)
John Fox vs. New England First Meeting
THE LAST TIME
Patriots 38, Panthers 6 – January 6, 2002
The New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers 38-6 to finish the 2001 season with an 11-5 record and clinch the sixth AFC East title in franchise history.The Patriots forced six Panthers turnovers, three of which resulted in touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns were interception returns for scores (46 yards by Ty Law and 76 yards by Otis Smith).
The Patriots opened the scoring on the first drive of the game with a 19-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. They drove 52 yards on 11 plays, using seven passes and three rushes to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
The Patriots defense followed with a score of its own, when Law snared a Chris Weinke pass and returned it 46 yards for a score, improving New England's lead to 10-0.
In the second quarter, the Panthers threatened to score, moving inside the red zone. On third and goal from the three, Willie McGinest sacked Weinke and the Panthers settled for a field goal, cutting the Patriots lead to 10-3.
The Patriots were forced to punt on their first drive of the second half and punter Ken Walter pinned the Panthers on the 1-yard line. The Patriots defense did not allow the Panthers to gain a first down and forced them to punt from their own 7-yard line. Patriots punt returner Troy Brown returned the punt 68 yards for a score, increasing the New England lead to 17-3.
Following a Panther field goal, Patriots running back Antowain Smith rushed for a 32-yard touchdown and the Patriots increased their lead to 24-6. Smith's score marked the first time since Nov. 9, 1997 that the Patriots scored a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams in one game.
The Patriots closed out the contest in the fourth quarter with another pair of scores. Quarterback Tom Brady completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Wiggins, then cornerback Otis Smith picked off a Weinke pass, his second of the game, and returned it 76 yards for a touchdown and a 38-6 Patriots advantage. With the win, New England earned the second seed in the AFC playoffs, ultimately advancing to win the first championship in franchise history with a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|2003 Regular Season||New England||Carolina|
|Total Yards Gained||5,039||5,141|
|Total Offense (Rank)||314.9 (17)||321.3 (16)|
|Rush Offense||100.4 (27)||130.9 (7)|
|Pass Offense||214.5 (9)||190.4 (18)|
|Points Per Game||21.8||20.3|
|Total Yards Allowed||4,666||4,725|
|Total Defense||291.6 (7)||295.3 (8)|
|Rush Defense||89.6 (4)||107.6 (11)|
|Pass Defense||202.0 (15)||187.7 (9)|
|Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost||32/219||27/192|
OUT IN FRONT
The Patriots have not trailed in a game since before Thanksgiving. The last time New England was behind in a game was on Nov. 23, 2003, on its last trip to Houston. In that contest, the Houston Texans held a 20-13 lead over the Patriots before a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Daniel Graham tied the score at 20 with 40 seconds left in regulation. The Patriots went on to win that game 23-20 in overtime, and since Graham's game-tying catch have not trailed in 424 minutes, 59 seconds of clock time. The streak spans more than seven full games.
AT HOME IN HOUSTON
The Patriots have been designated as the home team for Super Bowl XXXVIII and will wear their blue jerseys for the game. Carolina will wear white jerseys. In their previous Super Bowl appearances, the Patriots have worn red jerseys (XX, 1985), white jerseys (XXXI, 1996) and blue jerseys (XXXVI, 2001 and XXXVIII, 2003).
WITH A WIN THIS WEEK…
If the Patriots win this week, they would…
- Become Super Bowl champions for the second time in three years, joining the Denver Broncos (XXXII and XXXIII), Dallas Cowboys (XXVII, XXVIII and XXX), San Francisco 49ers (XXIII and XXIV), Pittsburgh Steelers (XIII and XIV, IX and X), Miami Dolphins (VII and VIII) and Green Bay Packers (I and II) as winners of two Super Bowls in three seasons.
- Own six consecutive postseason victories, tying them for the third longest postseason winning streak in NFL history.
- Join the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys as the only teams to win multiple Super Bowls in the past 15 years.
- Join the 1998 Denver Broncos as the only teams to win 17 games in a season since 1991.
With their 24-14 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18, the Patriots improved to 4-0 in AFC Championship Games since the Super Bowl Era began following the 1966 season. New England owns more championship game wins without a loss than any other team in NFL history.
PATRIOTS IN THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (4-0)
- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, while head coach at Cleveland, hired Scott O'Brien as his special teams coach. O'Brien is now the assistant head coach/special teams coach for Carolina.
- Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely was the Panthers special teams coach for four seasons, from 1995-98.
- Patriots cornerback Tyrone Poole played for the Panthers for the first three years of that franchise's existence, from 1995-97. Over that span, he started 44 of 47 games played. He started at cornerback for Carolina in the first game in franchise history, at Atlanta on Sept. 5, 1995.
- New England wide receiver Troy Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina and attended Blackville-Hilda High in Blackville, South Carolina where he lettered in football and track.
- Patriots running back Michael Cloud spent the first four years of his life in Charleston, South Carolina before his family moved to Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
- New England tight end Daniel Graham's twin brother Josh Graham played football his freshman year at the University of North Carolina.
- Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Patriots defensive back Antwan Harris played both running back and defensive back at Ravenscroft High in Raleigh. During his time there he was voted North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association (NCISAA) Player of the Year in both his junior and senior years and was an NCISAA All-State selection his sophomore, junior and senior years.
- New England linebacker Ted Johnson notched his first NFL pass defense on Oct. 29, 1995 when he knocked down a pass from then-Carolina quarterback Kerry Collins. Johnson amassed 10 tackles in the game.
- Patriots cornerback Ty Law's interception and subsequent 46-yard return for a touchdown against Carolina on Jan. 6, 2002 earned him his second pick for a score in the season and made him one of only seven Patriots in team history to accomplish the feat twice in one season.
- In the Patriots' win over Carolina on Jan. 6, 2002, New England linebacker Willie McGinest recorded four tackles, including two sacks. McGinest's second sack moved him into fifth place on the Patriots all-time list (51.5 career) and earned him his third multi-sack game of the season.
- McGinest recorded a career-high 11 tackles against Carolina on 10/29/95.
- Patriots punter Ken Walter was originally selected by the Carolina Panthers in the 1997 NFL draft. Walter punted for the Panthers for four seasons, appearing in 64 games from 1997-2000.
- Panthers offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Henning was a head coach at Boston College (1994-96).
- Panthers tight ends coach Dave Magazu was a defensive tackle at Springfield College, before becoming a collegiate coach. For four seasons, Magazu coached at Boston College (1999-2002).
- Panthers offensive line coach Mike Maser was a coach at Maine from 1979-80 and at Boston College from 1981-93.
- Panthers strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons coached for the Patriots from 1988-90.
- Panthers guard Doug Brzezinski played his collegiate ball at Boston College, where he served as a co-captain his senior year.
- Panthers rookie linebacker Vinny Ciurciu also played at BC, where he was a teammate of Dan Koppen in 2001 and 2002.
- Panthers tight ends Jermaine Wiggins spent the 2001 season with the Patriots, playing in all 16 games with six starts. His six-yard reception in Super Bowl XXXVI against St. Louis helped set up the Patriots' game-winning field goal.
SUPER BOWL HISTORY
The Patriots will be playing in their fourth Super Bowl, joining the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills as four-time Super Bowl participants. Only seven NFL teams have played in more Super Bowls than the Patriots: Dallas (8), Denver (6), San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Washington and Miami (5 each).
PATRIOTS IN THE SUPER BOWL
|02/03/02||XXXVI||St. Louis||Louisiana Superdome||W||20-17|
|01/26/97||XXXI||Green Bay||Louisiana Superdome||L||21-35|
Since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, the Patriots have played in more Super Bowls than any other NFL franchise. New England has won three AFC titles in the Kraft era, more than any other team in either conference in the past 10 seasons. The Patriots have split their previous two trips to the Super Bowl since 1994, winning the first championship in team history with a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2002.
A WINNING TRADITION
The Patriots joined an elite group in winning their third conference championship since 1996. New England is one of 11 teams in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966) to win three conference championships in a span of eight seasons. The Patriots appeared in Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season, Super Bowl XXXVI after the 2001 season and playing in Super Bowl XXXVIII following the 2003 season.
THREE OR MORE CONFERENCE TITLES IN EIGHT YEARS
|New England||1996-03||(96, 01, 03)|
|Dallas||1992-95||(92, 93, 95)|
|Buffalo||1990-93||(90, 91, 92, 93)|
|San Francisco||1981-88||(81, 84, 88)|
|San Francisco||1988-94||(88, 89, 94)|
|Denver||1987-90||(87, 88, 90)|
|Washington||1982-87||(82, 83, 87)|
|Oakland/L.A. Raiders||1976-83||(76, 80, 83)|
|Pittsburgh||1974-79||(74, 75, 78, 79)|
|Minnesota||1969-77||(69, 73, 74, 77)|
|Dallas||1970-78||(70, 71, 75, 78)|
PATRIOTS – PANTHERS QUICK HITS
- The Patriots and Panthers have not played each other yet this season, but they have had seven opponents in common. Both teams faced Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia and the New York Giants in the regular season or postseason. Carolina is 5-4 in games against those teams, while the Patriots are 9-0.
- Both the Patriots and Panthers have already played in Houston this season. New England was last in the Lone Star State on Nov. 23, taking home a 23-20 overtime win over the Houston Texans. Carolina traveled to Reliant Stadium on Nov. 2 and dropped a 14-10 decision to the Texans.
- Both teams have seen recent success in overtime. The Patriots won two overtime games this season and hold an NFL-record eight consecutive overtime victories. Carolina has played in five overtime games this season, including a double-overtime win at St. Louis in the NFC Divisional Round. The Panthers are 4-1 in overtime this season.