The Super Bowl XXXVIII champion New England Patriots will kick off the defense of their second world championship in a prime-time rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game when they host the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium to open the 2004 season. Nearly nine months ago, the two teams tangled on the same field with a trip to Houston on the line. This week, in the featured game of the NFL's kickoff weekend, the teams will renew acquaintances to start the season in a collision of two of the league's most successful squads of a season ago. But with a new season dawning on the Patriots and their fans, this week's game promises to be a memorable beginning to what New Englanders hope will be another exciting football season.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Patriots enter this week's game sporting a 15-3 (.833) all-time record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games. New England has won 11 consecutive regular-season and postseason contests at home, with its last defeat coming in a 30-14 regular-season loss to the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002. Last season, the Patriots were undefeated at home for the first time in team history, winning all eight regular-season games and two postseason games in Foxborough. In the 2003 regular season, the Patriots allowed a total of just 68 points at home, setting an NFL record for fewest points allowed in an eight-game home schedule.
NFL OPENING KICKOFF
Prior to the kickoff of this week's game, the Patriots will unveil their Super Bowl XXXVIII championship banner as the NFL starts the 2004 season in style with a one-hour pregame special, called "NFL Opening Kickoff". The show will air live on ABC from 8:00- 9:00 p.m. EDT, featuring musical performances from four different stages at Gillette Stadium. The Boston Pops will be featured throughout the show, teaming with Elton John for two performances. The Pops will also accompany Mary J. Blige as she sings the national anthem. Destiny's Child will perform from a stage inside the stadium, while Toby Keith will appear onstage from the stadium's parking lots to open the show. Entertainment by Lenny Kravitz will end the star-studded festivities as the Patriots' second Super Bowl banner is unveiled.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be televised nationwide by ABC. The telecast will begin at 8:00 with an hour-long pregame show. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst John Madden. Michele Tafoya will provide sideline reports throughout the game.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 34 stations can be found in this press release. Play-byplay broadcaster Gil Santos begins his 28th 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 21st season as a broadcast tandem.
NATIONAL RADIO: The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS Radio. Play-by-play man Marv Albert will be joined in the booth by Boomer Esiason, and John Dockery will report from the sidelines.
SPANISH RADIO: CBS Spanish Radio will broadcast this week's game. Armando Quintero and Bennie Ricardo will call the action from Gillette Stadium.