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Monday Night Lights & Rocky Mountain Thunder

Monday Night Lights & Rocky Mountian Thunder Await Familiar Foes Patriots & Broncos

Moments celebrated every year: wedding anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, Broncos-Patriots games. Yes, Broncos-Patriots games.

These perennial AFC powers will face each other this week for the ninth consecutive season. For the third time in this span, they will do it on ABC's NFL Monday Night Football in Denver. The Pats and Broncos, who between them have qualified for the playoffs in seven of the past 10 years, share the NFL's longest active stretch among non-division rivals of consecutive seasons playing each other.

The Patriots (6-2) are off to the club's best start in head coach BILL BELICHICK's tenure (which began in 2000) and have tied the best start in franchise history through eight games. New England has surrendered only 22 points in the past three weeks (7.3 per game).

"They are going to be one of the toughest groups we have seen yet," says Broncos quarterback DANNY KANELL. "It doesn't get any easier. That is what you expect in the NFL. The Patriots throw so many different looks at you that you just don't know what you are going to get. They throw the kitchen sink at you and you have to be ready for anything."

Denver head coach MIKE SHANAHAN is 6-2 in his career against New England while the Broncos have defeated the Patriots in 12 of the past 14 meetings, including the past two on Monday night.

New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who seeks his first career win against Denver, looks forward to Monday.

"Whenever you get your schedule, the first thing that you look for is how many games you're on Monday night," says Brady. "It's just a special night. It's exciting. Any football player would tell you that if he could play on every Monday night, he would."

TRIPLE-DIGIT DETERMINATION:
Entering this weekend's games, Denver running back CLINTON PORTIS has four 100-yard rushing performances, tying for fourth most in the NFL. Conversely, New England is one of three NFL teams who have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher, along with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants.
The breakdown:

TOP 100-YD RUSHERS100-YD RUSH GMSTEAMS YET TO ALLOW 100-YD RUSHERAVG. RUSH YDS ALLOWED/GAME
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore6Miami Dolphins73.9
Stephen Davis, Carolina5New England Patriots89.8
Deuce McAllister, N.O.5New York Giants 108.3
Ahman Green, Green Bay4
Clinton Portis, Denver4

FOURTH QUARTER CLAMP-DOWN:
New England enters Monday night's game possessing the NFL's longest active winning streak (21 games) when entering the fourth quarter with a lead. Five of the Pats' six wins this season have followed this pattern. Below is a look at the five longest active winning streaks when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.
TEAMCONSC. WINS ENTERING 4TH QTR. WITH LEAD
New England Patriots21
Tennessee Titans15
Indianapolis Colts13
Kansas City Chiefs10
Carolina Panthers8

Monday Night Musings - New England at Denver

Broncos-Patriots Higher Education:

  • Broncos WR ED MC CAFFREY earned his bachelor's degree at Stanford in economics, along with a master's in sociology. He plans to attend business or law school when his football career is over.
  • Denver WR ROD SMITH was named Missouri Southern's Outstanding Graduate in 1994. Smith completed his collegiate studies with three degrees -- in economics and finance, general business, as well as marketing and management.
  • New England S JE'ROD CHERRY earned his bachelor's degree at Cal-Berkeley in political science, along with a master's in education.

Other Monday Night Notes:

  • Denver K JASON ELAM is a licensed commercial airplane pilot, who plans to fly full-time when he completes his playing career. His longest trip is five hours from Denver to his home in Georgia.
  • Broncos DE TREVOR PRYCE owns a record label called Outlook Music, which opened in 2002 and was recently purchased by Hollywood Records.
  • Broncos CB JIMMY SPENCER is serving dual roles this season, both as a player and as the Broncos' assistant defensive backs coach.
  • Denver RB MIKE ANDERSON spent four years in the Unites States Marine Corps upon completion of high school, serving on peace-keeping missions in Somalia and Kenya.
  • Patriots DE JARVIS GREEN - an LSU graduate with a degree in engineering - is interning at the Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Plant in Walpole, Massachusetts. Green works every Tuesday at Rolls-Royce during the season, and will work full-time in the offseason.
  • New England QB TOM BRADY was inducted into the Junipero Serra High School Hall of Fame in 2003. He joined fellow Serra High graduate and ABC announcer LYNN SWANN in the school's Hall of Fame.
  • Patriots LB TEDY BRUSCHI is a talented saxophonist. He performed Fizzwater on his alto saxophone as part of a musical quintet at Symphony Hall in Boston to benefit the Longy School of Music in 2002.
  • New England CB TY LAW donated $75,000 to the Minority Faculty Development at Brigham and Women's Hospital in June of 2001. His donation was used to help fund research in Cardiovascular Medicine.
  • Patriots T MATT LIGHT established the Light Foundation, a charity that awards scholarships to high school students in the areas in which he has played football: his hometown of Greenville, Ohio; West Lafayette, Indiana (Purdue); and New England.
  • Patriots K ADAM VINATIERI has two unique family ties. He is a cousin of daredevil EVEL KNIEVEL and great, great grandson of FELIX VINATIERI, who was General Custer's bandmaster.
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