The Patriots and Browns will meet for the 19th time in the regular season when the two clubs square off on Sunday. Including a 1994 playoff meeting, the Browns have won 12 of the 19 games between the teams. The Patriots have won four of their last five games against the Browns and are 5-2 against Cleveland since 1993. The series dates back to 1971, when New England suffered a 27-7 loss at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Patriots and Browns have played frequently recently, with this week's game marking the fifth time in six seasons the non-divisional foes have faced each other. Excluding the seasons when Cleveland did not have a team (1996-98), the Patriots and Browns have faced off in nine of the past 10 seasons, with 2002 marking the only time the teams did not play over that span. The Patriots are 3-3 in Cleveland in the last 20 years, and are 1-1 all-time at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
BILL BELICHICK IN CLEVELAND
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns for five seasons from 1991-95. Belichick took over with the Browns coming off of what was their worst season in franchise history, a 3-13 campaign in 1990. By 1994, Belichick had coached the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. While with the Browns, Belichick hired a significant number of coaches and scouts who have gone on to have significant success in the NFL or college football. Belichick's hires have produced four college head coaches, three NFL defensive coordinators and three NFL personnel directors, among many others who have attained success in the football world. A complete listing of Belichick's Cleveland hires, their positions in Cleveland and their current positions can be found on page 23 of the 2004 Patriots media guide.
- Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was the Browns head coach from 1991-1995. He was named the franchise's 10th head coach on Feb. 5, 1991, making him the NFL's youngest head coach at the age of 38.
- Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel served as the Browns defensive coordinator in 2000.
- Patriots tight ends/assistant offensive line coach Jeff Davidson was born on Oct. 3, 1967, in Akron, Ohio.
- Patriots inside linebackers coach Pepper Johnson played for the Browns from 1993-95 under Head Coach Bill Belichick. He was also a two-time captain, defensive MVP and All-American at Ohio State.
- Patriots defensive backs coach Eric Mangini was a coaching assistant for the Browns in 1995.
- Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli began his NFL career when Belichick hired him as a pro personnel assistant for the Browns in 1992.
- Patriots director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff Jr., was born in Barberton, Ohio and began his career with four seasons of experience working in the Browns scouting department (1998-01). His father, Tom, was a long-time personnel scout for the Cleveland Browns.
- Patriots assistant director of college scouting Lionel Vital was first hired by Belichick as a scout for Browns in 1991, remaining with the team through the franchise's move to Baltimore in 1996.
- Patriots assistant director of pro personnel Keith Kidd came to New England in 2002 after serving three seasons as the Browns' director of pro personnel.
- Patriots tackle Matt Light was born on June 23, 1978, in Greenville, Ohio. He was a three-year, two-way starter who played guard as a sophomore, tackle as a junior and tight end as a senior at Greenville High School.
- Patriots wide receiver David Patten spent the 2000 season with the Browns, where he started 10 games and caught 38 passes for 546 yards.
- Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel was born on Aug. 14, 1975 in Akron, Ohio, and received USA Today All-American second-team honors at Walsh Jesuit High in Stowe, Ohio. While in high school, Vrabel earned Ohio Player of the Year honors from Columbus Touchdown Club.
- Browns defensive line coach Andre Patterson began his NFL coaching career with the Patriots in 1997 as a defensive coaching assistant.
- Browns special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was the cornerbacks/special teams coach at the University of Notre Dame for two seasons (1999-2000). In 2000, Patriots wide receiver David Givens blocked three kicks on the Fighting Irish's punt coverage unit as a sophomore. Browns offensive lineman Jeff Faine was also on the same Irish offensive unit as Givens during that time.
- Browns quarterbacks coach Steve Hagan served as the offensive coordinator at the University of California in 1999 and 2000 when Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain played defensive end for the Bears.
- Browns kicker Phil Dawson spent the 1998 season on the Patriots practice squad.
- Patriots center Dan Koppen opened up holes for Browns running back William Green at Boston College. Browns defensive lineman Antonio Garay and offensive lineman Paul Zukauskas also played collegiately at Boston College
- Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri and Browns tight end Steve Heiden both played their collegiate football at South Dakota State.
- Patriots defensive lineman Ty Warren and Browns defensive back Michael Jameson were on the same defensive unit at Texas A&M University where they were both named All-Big Twelve Conference selections.
Tom Brady is squaring off against the Browns for the third time in his career. Cleveland's Kelly Holcomb is slated to start against the Patriots for the first time after coming in to relieve Tim Couch in last year's battle between the teams.
One of the oldest mantras in sports is that it doesn't matter where you start a season, but it does matter where you finish it. The Patriots have done a remarkable job of finishing strong over the past two-plus seasons, as they have compiled a 32-4 (.889) record after November 1 since the 2001 season.
The Patriots have recorded a 10-1 mark in 2004, notching the best mark in franchise history through 11 games. New England started the season with a 9-2 mark last season, setting a then-franchise best. The top starts in franchise history are listed below.
THIS WEEK IN PATRIOTS HISTORY
December 5, 1976 - New England's 27-6 home win over the New Orleans Saints clinches the team its first playoff berth in the NFL and its first playoff appearance since the 1963 AFL Championship game.
November 29, 1981 - Sam Cunningham becomes the Patriots all-time career leading rusher, surpassing former leader Jim Nance's 5,323 yards.
November 29, 1987 - Cornerback Raymond Clayborn ends his consecutive games played streak at 161. Clayborn broke Gino Cappelletti's record of 152 consecutive games played and Ray Hamilton's record 110 consecutive starts.
The average number of points the Patriots defense has allowed in its last three home games.
The average number of points the Patriots have allowed through six games at Gillette Stadium this season.
The Patriots' average number of points allowed per game this season, ranking fifth in the NFL.
The number of sacks the Patriots have registered so far this season.
The number of sacks the Patriots will notch on the season if they continue at their current pace, the most since New England registered 48.0 sacks in 1986.
The Patriots' rank in the NFL in sacks per pass play.
The number of Patriots defenders who have registered at least one sack on the season.
The third down efficiency of Patriots opponents this season (52/143).
The total number of net yards the Patriots have allowed in their last two home games.
The number of games this season in which the Patriots have held opponents to fewer than 300 net yards.
The number of 100-yard rushers the Patriots have allowed this season.
The total number of rushing yards the Patriots have allowed opponents this season, just 22 yards more than Corey Dillon has registered by himself on the year.
The number of yards rushing Corey Dillon has gained so far this season, placing him fifth in the NFL and third in the AFC.
The number of seasons, out of the eight he has been in the league, in which Corey Dillon has reached 1,000 yards rushing.
The number of games this season in which Dillon has passed the century mark in rushing yards, establishing a career high.
The number of 100-yard games Curtis Martin recorded in 1995, establishing a Patriots record.
The average number of yards Dillon has gained per rushing attempt, tying him for fourth overall in the NFL (Ahman Green, GB; Fred Taylor, JAX) amongst players with 100 or more attempts, and tying him for second after Indianapolis' Edgerrin James in the AFC (Fred Taylor, JAX).
The number of rushing yards Dillon is on pace to record this season, a total that would top Curtis Martin's franchise-best season total of 1,487 yards in 1995.
The number of rushing attempts Dillon is on pace to record in 2004, which would place him second in Patriots' history for attempts in a season (Curtis Martin, 368 attempts, 1995) and would be the highest amount in his career (340 attempts, 2001).
Consecutive games in which Tom Brady has started at quarterback.
Consecutive victories when leading after three quarters.
Consecutive victories when scoring 21 or more points.
Consecutive victories when leading at halftime.
Consecutive victories when producing a positive turnover differential.
Consecutive field goals Adam Vinatieri has made.
Consecutive games in which the Patriots have scored first (19 games including playoffs).
Consecutive victories at Gillette Stadium (17 games including playoffs).
Consecutive games in which the Patriots have scored in the second quarter.
Consecutive wins against AFC East division opponents.
Consecutive overtime wins (8 games including playoffs).
Consecutive wins in domed stadiums (8 games including playoffs).
Consecutive wins against NFC teams (6 games including playoffs).
Consecutive games won overall.
Consecutive Patriots games televised locally, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games
Consecutive sellouts in Foxborough, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games
NOTE: All of the above streaks include regular-season games only, unless noted.
THE KRAFT ERA
The Patriots record at home since 1994, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games.
The Patriots' record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games (.875 win pct).
The Patriots' record in preseason, regular-season and postseason games since 1996 (.641 win pct).
The Patriots' regular-season record since 1996 (.626 win pct).
The Patriots' postseason record since 1996 (.750 win pct).
The Patriots offensive third-down conversion rate this season (65 conversions in 144 attempts).
The last season in which the Patriots had a third-down conversion rate better than 45.1 percent (That team finished the season at 46.7 percent).