The Patriots and Rams will clash for the 10th time this week and for the first time since Super Bowl XXXVI. New England scored one of the greatest victories in franchise history when it defeated the favored Rams for the NFL championship on Feb. 3, 2002. That victory followed a tight game in the 2001 regular season that ended in a 24-17 St. Louis victory at Foxboro Stadium. The series dates back to 1974, when the Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams by a 20-14 score at what was then Schaefer Stadium. Including that game, the Patriots won the three of the first four games between the clubs before the Rams rolled off wins in four straight games between 1989 and 2001. New England is making its second visit to St. Louis to play the Rams, with its only other trip coming in 1998, when St. Louis came away with a 32-18 win. The Patriots are making the fifth trip to St. Louis in franchise history, having played three games against the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals. New England is 1-3 all-time in games played in St. Louis.
PATRIOTS IN ST. LOUIS
The Patriots are playing the Rams in St. Louis for just the second time, but will make their fifth overall trip to the Gateway to the West. Besides traveling to St. Louis for a 1998 game against the Rams, the Patriots also paid visits to play the St. Louis Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) in 1970, 1975 and 1978.
Tom Brady is 1-1 as a starter against St. Louis, with both starts coming during the 2001 season. Since losing to the Rams on Nov. 18, 2001, Brady has compiled a 35-10 record as a starter, including a 20-17 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
PATRIOTS VS. NFC
The Patriots have won 13 of their last 15 regular season and postseason games against teams from the NFC, including both of their out-of-conference games so far this season. New England has finished 3-1 against NFC teams in each of the last three regular seasons. Since 2001, the Patriots hold an overall record of 13-3 against the NFC, including victories in Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII.
THE LAST TIME
February 3, 2002 - Louisiana Superdome (Att: 72,922)
The Patriots claimed the first championship in their 42-year history when they defeated the favored St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. St. Louis erased a 17-3 fourth-quarter Patriots lead to tie the score at 17 with 1:37 left in the game. Second-year quarterback Tom Brady responded by driving the Patriots 53 yards in 1:30, moving into Adam Vinatieri's field goal range. The kicker drilled a 48-yard kick as time expired to bring New England its first professional sports championship since 1986.
Tom Brady completed 16-of-27 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown, while running back Antowain Smith rattled off 92 yards on 18 carries. Troy Brown led the receiving corps with six catches for 89 yards. Cornerback Ty Law returned an interception for a touchdown and led the team with eight tackles.
The Rams got on the board first, scoring the only points of the first quarter on a 50-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins. The Patriots broke onto the scoreboard in the second quarter, when Law picked off a Kurt Warner pass and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 Patriots lead. New England used another Rams turnover to extend its lead just before halftime. New England's Antwan Harris forced the Rams' Ricky Proehl to fumble, and Terrell Buckley returned the loose ball to the Rams' 40-yard line with 1:20 left before halftime. Brady later found David Patten for an 8-yard scoring pass with 36 seconds left before the interval to give the Patriots a 14-3 halftime lead.
The teams traded punts to open the second half before New England forced another turnover and converted it into a score. Patriots cornerback Otis Smith picked off Warner and returned the ball 30 yards to the St. Louis 33-yard line. Four plays later, Vinatieri drilled a 37-yard field goal to put the Patriots ahead 17-3 heading into the final quarter.
The Rams found the end zone for the first time on a 2-yard run by Warner with 9:33 left in the game, cutting New England's lead to 17-10. After trading punts, the Rams took possession and used a three-play, 55-yard drive to tie the score at 17 on a 26-yard touchdown from Warner to Proehl with 1:37 left in the game. The Patriots got the ball back on their own 17-yard line with 1:21 left, and Brady completed five-of-seven passes to bring the Patriots to the St. Louis 30-yard line with seven seconds left. Vinatieri's 48-yard boot sailed through the uprights as time expired to bring the Patriots their first world championship.
The Patriots travel to St. Louis this week having won seven of their last eight road games. They had notched a franchise-record seven consecutive successful road trips until last week's 34-20 setback in Pittsburgh. New England dropped its first two road games in 2003, then came away victorious from its six remaining road trips of that season. This year, the Patriots won at Arizona and Buffalo before coming up short in the Steel City. Since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000, the Patriots are 19-16 (.543) on the road. Since 2001, New England has notched a 17-10 (.630) record.
THIS WEEK IN PATRIOTS HISTORY
NOVEMBER 1 - NOVEMBER 7
Nov. 3, 1991 - Shawn McCarthy boomed a 93-yard punt in a 22-17 loss in Buffalo. The 93-yarder is a franchise record and the longest punt in the league since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
Nov. 3, 1996 - The Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins 42-23 to raise their record to 6-3 in the 1996 Super Bowl season. The 42-point output is the most by the Patriots against Miami. Curtis Martin tied a team record with three rushing touchdowns.
Nov. 3, 2002 - The Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-7 in their first game against former signal caller Drew Bledsoe. Tom Brady set the Patriots' completion percentage record by connecting on 84.6 percent of his passes (22-26), including three touchdowns.
Nov. 3, 2003 - The Patriots rallied for a memorable come-from-behind, 30-26 win over the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field in the Mile High City. Trailing by one point with less than three minutes left, Bill Belichick opted for an intentional safety to gain crucial field position. The move paid off as the Patriots got the ball back and scored a game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds left.
Nov. 7, 1976 - Mike Haynes returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown in a 20-10 win over Buffalo, notching the longest punt return in franchise history. Haynes returned four punts for a team-record 156 yards in the game, kick-starting a six-game winning streak to end the 1976 season.
- Patriots linebacker Roman Phifer was drafted in the second round of the 1991 NFL draft by the Rams and played in both Los Angeles (1991-95) and St. Louis (1996-98).
- Patriots linebacker and special teams ace Don Davis spent two seasons with the Rams from 2001-02, playing in 28 games with 15 starts over that span. He started for St. Louis against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.
- Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham was originally signed by the Rams as a rookie free agent prior to the 1999 season. He was waived prior to that season, then spent training camp with the Rams in 2000. He was waived following camp and claimed by the Patriots, for whom he has since played in 48 games.
- Rams general manager Charlie Armey spent 1991-97 with the Patriots as the Director of College Scouting.
- Rams wide receivers coach Henry Ellard played in five games with the Patriots during the 1998 season and caught five passes for 86 yards.
- Rams tight ends coach Frank Falks was the tight ends and halfbacks coach at the San Diego Chargers from 1994-96 when Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was on the team.
- Rams linebacker Trev Faulk was a member of the same Louisiana State squad as Patriots quarterback Rohan Davey, cornerback Randall Gay, defensive end Marquise Hill and defensive lineman Jarvis Green. Faulk is also a cousin of Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, who is also an alumnus of LSU.
- Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel and St. Louis cornerback Travis Fisher played in the same Central Florida secondary.
- Patriots wide receiver David Givens and Rams running back Joey Goodspeed were on the same offensive unit at Notre Dame from 1998-2001.
- New England running back Corey Dillon played collegiate football at the University of Washington where Rams tight end Cameron Cleeland was on the same offensive unit. Cleeland also played for New England in 2002.
- Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace and Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel were teammates at Ohio State.
- St. Louis guard Scott Tercero and New England linebacker Tully Banta-Cain were teammates at the University of California.
- Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri and Rams guard Adam Timmerman were both 4-year lettermen at South Dakota State University from 1991-94.
- Rams guard Darnell Alford attended Boston College, where he played on the same offensive line as Patriots center Dan Koppen in 1999.
- Rams tackle Grant Williams played for the Patriots from 2000-01, starting 12 of 29 games over that span.
- Rams wide receiver Dane Looker was acquired by the Patriots via trade in 2000, and was inactive for 10 games with the team that season.
THE KRAFT ERA
The number of regular-season victories the Patriots have recorded since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. With their next win, the Patriots will reach the 100-victory milestone in the Kraft Era.
The number of consecutive Patriots preseason, regular-season and postseason home games that have been sold out since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994.
The number of consecutive Patriots games that have been televised locally.
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 (.864 win pct).
NOT HALF BAD
The number of consecutive regular-season games the Patriots have won when leading at halftime.
The number of consecutive regular-season games the Patriots have won when leading after three quarters, leading the NFL.
SEVEN-PLUS SOLID SEASONS
The Patriots' record in preseason, regular-season and postseason games since 1996 (.633 win pct.).
The Patriots' regular-season record since 1996 (.615 win pct).
The Patriots' postseason record since 1996 (.750 win pct).
The Patriots' preseason record since 1996 (.647 win pct).
THE BELICHICK ERA
Bill Belichick's overall record as head coach of the Patriots, including the regular season and the playoffs.
Belichick's overall winning percentage as Patriots head coach, establishing the highest winning percentage of any coach in franchise history, including postseason games.
Belichick's record in New England when his team scores 21 points or more.
Tom Brady's record as a starting quarterback in the NFL in the regular season.
Brady's winning percentage as a starter.
Brady's rank on the NFL's all-time winningest quarterbacks list during the Super Bowl Era (since 1966).
The number of quarterbacks in the Super Bowl Era who own a career regular-season winning percentage above .700 (Brady, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Donovan McNabb).
The number of consecutive regular-season and postseason games the Patriots have won at Gillette Stadium, dating back to the 2002 season finale.
The number of consecutive games, including playoffs, in which the Patriots have scored first.
The number of consecutive games, including playoffs, in which Tom Brady has thrown a touchdown pass.
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won when they have had a 100-yard rusher, dating back to the 1999 season.
GIVENS RECEIVES ACCOLADES
The number of games this season in which David Givens has exceeded the 100-yard mark for receiving yards.
The number of 100-yard receiving games the Patriots had all of last season.
The number of catches Givens recorded last week against Pittsburgh, setting a career high.
The number of catches David Givens has recorded this season, leading the team.
The number of first downs Givens has earned this season, as all but one of his catches has gained first-down yardage.
The number of receiving yards Givens has racked up this season, already topping his previous career high of 510 yards, set last season.
The number of yards Givens is on pace to record this season. If he keeps up the pace, he would record the most receiving yards by a Patriot since Stanley Morgan notched 1,491 in 1986.
LAW AND ORDER
The number of career interceptions recorded by Ty Law, tying him with Raymond Clayborn for the all-time franchise record.
The number of interceptions Law has returned for a touchdown in the regular season, setting a team record.
The average yardage of Josh Miller's punts this season, ranking third in the NFL.
The Patriots' team punting average last season.
Miller's longest punt this season, a boot that took place at Buffalo on Oct. 3.
The number of years since the Patriots had a punt of 61 yards or longer, dating back to when Lee Johnson nailed a 62-yarder at Miami on Oct. 7, 2001.
Miller's career punting average, accumulated over eight-plus seasons in the NFL.