This Week: The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will kickoff the 2002 season in grand style when they host the defending AFC Central Division Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in a rematch of the 2001 AFC Championship game. The rematch will be the season premiere of ABCs Monday Night Football and will mark the much anticipated Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:07 p.m.
Television: The 2002 season premier of ABCs Monday Night Football features a new lineup. This season, play-by-play analyst Al Michaels will be joined in the booth by John Madden, while Melissa Stark will continue to provide sideline reports throughout the game.
Radio: Every Patriots game can be heard in stereo on the Patriots official flagship station WBCN 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, now in his 26th season as the voice of the Patriots, will call the game along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti, who will provide in-depth analysis for his 22nd season. A complete list of the Patriots WBCN Rock Radio Network can be found on pages 462-463 of the 2002 Patriots media guide or at www.patriots.com.
National Radio: This week's game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Radio. Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason will be calling the play-by-play and John Dockery will report from the sidelines.
New Rivalry? This week's game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the seventh meeting in the past seven years, with three of the last five clashes in the playoffs. The Patriots won two of those three playoff games, including last season's AFC Championship game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, 24-17. Overall, the Patriots and the Steelers have squared off 18 times (including playoffs), but this week's game will be just the fifth in the series played in Foxborough. The Patriots only home victory in the series came in the playoffs in 1996 when they defeated the Steelers 28-3 in a divisional playoff game. The Patriots have won their last two meetings in the series and three of their last five by a combined score of 102-60. Since 1996, the Patriots only losses to the Steelers both came in 1997 when they suffered a 24-21 loss in overtime in Foxborough and a 7-6 loss in a divisional playoff game at Pittsburgh.
Happy Anniversary? The Patriots hope to celebrate the Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium with a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on the 42nd anniversary of their first regular season game in franchise history. On Sept. 9, 1960, the Patriots hosted the AFL's Denver Broncos at Boston University's Nickerson Field before a crowd of 21,597 fans.
Preseason: The Patriots finished the preseason 3-1 with a 28-14 victory over the Washington Redskins. This preseason marks the 11th time they have recorded a .750 winning percentage or better. Following eight of those preseasons, they earned a winning record and qualified for the playoffs six times, including two visits to the Super Bowl (XXXI and XXXVI).
How's That For Starters: Patriots have won six of their last eight games when they opened the season at home. They have opened the season at home 24 times in their 42-year history and have a 12-12 record.
Home Sweet Home: The Patriots have won six consecutive games at home, including their two preseason games this season. Their last loss at home was on Nov. 18, 2001, when the Rams defeated the Patriots 24-17. Foxborough has been a wonderful home to the Patriots since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. The team has compiled a 56-28 (.667) overall record at home during that time span.