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Patriots and Broncos square off Sunday night

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-0) vs. DENVER BRONCOS (1-1)
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Gillette Stadium (68,756) 8:15 p.m. EDT

The New England Patriots, winners of two straight games to open the 2006 season, will face their toughest test so far when they play host to the Denver Broncos in Foxborough on Sunday night. The game is a rematch of the AFC Divisional Playoff game that brought an end to New England's 2005 season, and features the Patriots' first appearance on NBC's Sunday Night Football. The Patriots offense has been effective in balancing a strong running game with an efficient passing attack, but will face a Denver defense that has not allowed a touchdown through two games this season. New England's defense will be tested by a perennially-strong Broncos rushing attack that enters this week's game ranked fourth in the NFL.

HOMELAND DEFENSESince Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, the Patriots have been the NFL's best team at home. New England leads the NFL with a 31-6 (.838) home record in the fourplus years since their state-of-the-art facility opened, and the Patriots defense has allowed an NFL-low 15.7 points per game at home since 2002. The Patriots enter this week with 27 victories in their last 30 home games, including regular-season and playoff games. In the first four seasons that the Patriots called Gillette Stadium home, they won two Super Bowl championships, three AFC East titles and went 4-0 in home playoff games.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by NBC. The game can be seen in Boston on WHDH-TV Channel 7. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties and John Madden will provide analysis. Andrea Kremer will offer updates from the sidelines.

RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 30th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti for the 23rd season.

NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Westwood One. Dave Sims and Bob Trumpy will call the game and Kevin Kiley will report from the sidelines.

SERIES HISTORY

The Patriots and Broncos will meet for the 12th time in the last 12 seasons and for the third time in less than a one-year span. The game is a rematch of last year's divisional playoff clash, which the Broncos won 27-13 in Denver. The Broncos will make their first trip to Foxborough since 2002, with five of the last six meetings between the teams taking place in Denver. The non-divisional foes are quite familiar with each other, with this week's game serving as the 41st overall meeting between the clubs in a series that dates back to 1960. The Patriots have played more games against the Broncos than any other team that has never been in New England's division. The history between the teams dates back to the first days of the American Football League in 1960. The Patriots played the Broncos in the inaugural game of each franchise, a 13-10 Denver win on Sept. 9, 1960 at B.U. Field. The teams squared off twice a year in the decade prior to the AFL-NFL merger, with the Patriots taking a 10-7 advantage out of those games.

PLAYOFF REMATCH

This week's game will feature a rematch of last season's AFC Divisional Playoff game. Since the 2002 season, the Patriots are 3-2 in regular season games against a playoff opponent from the previous year. The Denver game is the first of two playoff rematches for the Patriots this season, as they will also face Jacksonville on Dec. 24. The Patriots hold an all-time record of 14-10 in playoff rematches.

PATRIOTS-BRONCOS QUICK HITS

  • Despite not playing in the same division, the Patriots and Broncos will meet for the 12th time in the last 12 years. Since 1995, the teams have played in every season except 2004 and squared off twice last season.
  • Prior to this week, seven of the last nine games between the teams took place in Denver.
  • Denver is just one of three opponents to hold a winning record at Gillette Stadium (1-0, following a 24-16 win in 2002). The others are Green Bay (1-0) and San Diego (1-0).
  • Tom Brady's eight home losses as a starter have come to eight different teams, including Denver. The Patriots have not lost at home to the same team twice with Brady at the helm.
  • The Broncos are the only team the Patriots have lost to twice in the playoffs (1986 and 2005). New England's nine other playoff losses have been to nine different clubs.
  • The Patriots have an all-time winning percentage of .375 against the Broncos, the lowest against any of the seven other original American Football League teams. The Patriots have a winning record against four of the seven other charter members of the AFL.

PASSING PERFORMANCES

The Patriots have compiled a 1-4 record against the Denver Broncos in games that Tom Brady has started. The Broncos are one of just four teams against which Brady has a losing record. The others are Washington (0-1), Green Bay (0-1) and San Diego (1-2). Brady owns a record of .500 or better against 27 of 31 opponents. The Broncos and the Miami Dolphins are the only two teams to which the Patriots have lost as many as four times with Brady as the starter.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was an assistant special teams coach and an assistant to the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 1978. While Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns he hired Jacob Burney as a defensive line coach. Burney is currently the defensive line/ends coach for the Broncos.
  • Patriots tight end Daniel Graham was raised in Denver. His father, Tom, played three seasons for the Broncos. Graham played his high school football at Thomas Jefferson High in Denver and played his college football for the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo.
  • Broncos center Tom Nalen was born in Foxborough, Mass., attended Foxboro High and attended Boston College.
  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Broncos linebacker Ian Gold were four-year teammates at the University of Michigan.
  • Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour and Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey were teammates at the University of Georgia from 1997-98.
  • Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour and Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson were teammates of Broncos tackle George Foster at the University of Georgia.
  • Patriots wide receiver Reche Caldwell and Broncos defensive tackle Gerard Warren were teammates at the University of Florida from 1998-2000. Broncos guard/tackle Cooper Carlisle was also with Florida from 1998-99.
  • Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel and Broncos wide receiver Todd Devoe both attended Boyd Anderson High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and were high school teammates from 1995-98.
  • Broncos running back Cedric Cobbs was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round (128th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft and played in four games for the Patriots in 2004, rushing 22 times for 50 yards.
  • Patriots assistant secondary coach Joel Collier's father, Joe Collier, was an assistant coach for the Broncos for 20 seasons from 1969-1988. Joel Collier served as a ballboy for the Broncos while growing up and went on to attend Northern Colorado University, where he was a three-year starter at inside linebacker.
  • Patriots tight ends coach Pete Mangurian was an assistant coach for the Broncos for five seasons from 1988-92. He served as Denver's tight ends/H-Backs coach (1988-90) and also as the Broncos' offensive line coach (1991-92).
  • Broncos defensive line/tackles coach Andre Patterson was a defensive assistant for the Patriots in 1997.
  • Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely was a graduate assistant at Colorado State in 1979 and served as the Rams' offensive line coach in 1980. Seely also served on the New York Jets coaching staff in 1994 with Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.
  • Patriots running back Corey Dillon ran for 278 yards on 22 carries against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 22, 2000, while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. The 278 yards set an NFL record at the time and currently rank as the second-highest single-game rushing total in the NFL's 87-year history.
  • Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown caught a career-high two touchdown passes at Denver on Oct. 1, 2000.
  • Patriots safety Rodney Harrison has recorded five career interceptions in 17 career games against Denver.

PATRIOTS VS. AFC WEST

This week's game against Denver is New England's only scheduled matchup against an AFC West club this season. Last year, the Patriots played all four AFC West teams and compiled a 1-3 record, defeating Oakland and dropping contests to Denver, San Diego and Kansas City.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

HOME SWEET HOME

15.7
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed in the history of Gillette Stadium. The number is the lowest in the NFL since the stadium opened in 2002.

27-3
The Patriots' record in their last 30 home games, a streak that includes a franchise-record 21-game home winning streak from 2002-05.

PATRIOTS vs. BRONCOS

3
The number of opponents who hold a winning record at Gillette Stadium, of which Denver is one. The other teams are Green Bay and San Diego.

3
The number of times the Patriots will play the Broncos in the span of one year. The teams also squared off in Denver in October, 2005 and in January, 2006.

2
The number of times the Patriots have lost to the Broncos in the playoffs (1986 and 2005). Denver is the only team to which New England has lost more than once in the postseason.

.375
The Patriots' winning percentage against the Broncos (15-25), the lowest for New England of any of the seven other original American Football League teams.

STREAKING

51
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have played since they last lost back-to-back games, dating back to December 2002. The NFL record is 60 games by the San Francisco 49ers from 1995-99. The next longest active streak in the NFL is the Denver Broncos with 22.

5
The number of consecutive 9 win seasons for the Patriots, the longest current streak in the NFL.

8
The number of consecutive Patriots overtime victories, the longest current streak in the NFL.

8
The number of career receptions by Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel (including playoffs). All eight receptions have been for touchdowns.

91
The number of consecutive games, including playoffs, that Tom Brady has started at quarterback.

130
The number of consecutive home games that the Patriots have sold out, including this week's game. The streak includes preseason, regular-season and playoff games and dates back to the 1994 regular-season opener.

HOME COOKING

38-8
Tom Brady's career record in home games.

0The number of teams to which the Patriots have lost twice at home since Brady became the starting quarterback in 2001. New England's eight home losses with Brady as a starter have come to eight different teams (including Denver).

3.2-to-1Brady's ratio of touchdown passes (67) to interceptions (21) in his career in home games.

THE DILLON FACTOR

10,582
Corey Dillon's career rushing yardage total, the highest total among any player on a current 53-man active roster.

62
The number of yards Dillon needs to pass Ricky Watters and claim 15th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list.

25-4
The Patriots' record in games in which Dillon has played since joining the Patriots prior to the 2004 season.

1-4
The Patriots record in games Dillon has missed during his Patriots tenure.

4.3Corey Dillon's average yards per carry since joining the Patriots (2,521 yards on 590 rushes).

MR. PATRIOT

6,051
The number of career receiving yards for Troy Brown, making him the second player in franchise history to reach the mark (Stanley Morgan, 10,352).

15
The number of receptions Brown needs to pass Stanley Morgan (534 career receptions) to become the Patriots' all-time leader.

14
The number of seasons in which Brown has donned a Patriots uniform, tying Bruce Armstrong and Steve Nelson for the second longest Patriots tenure, trailing only Steve Grogan (16 seasons).

2
The number of current NFL players who have been with their respective teams for more than the 14 seasons Brown has been a Patriot (Brett Favre, GB, and Jason Hanson, DET;15 seasons).

THE HEAD COACH

32
The number of years Bill Belichick has been an NFL coach, making him the longest tenured coach among the NFL's 32 head coaches.

7
The number of head coaches in the NFL or college who were assistant coaches under Belichick (Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Nick Saban, Charlie Weis, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Hill and Al Groh).

37-2
Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 25 points or more.

58-5
Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 21 points or more.

THE KRAFT ERA

4
The number of times the Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994. No other team has made more than two Super Bowl appearances in that span.

13
The number of playoff victories for the Patriots since 1994, more than any other team in the NFL during that span.

132-80
The Patriots' overall record since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 (including postseason), a .623 winning percentage.

75-30
The Patriots' record at home since 1994, including regularseason and postseason games, a winning percentage of .714.

31-6
The Patriots' record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games (.838 win pct).

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