SHUTOUT EFFORTThe Patriots shut out the Buccaneers today, marking the first blanking for the Patriots since they defeated the Buffalo Bills 31-0 on Dec. 27, 2003. New England has allowed just 10 points in its last three games - the lowest three-game opponent point total in franchise history. Dating back to the fourth quarter at Kansas City on Nov. 27, the Patriots have allowed just 10 points in the last 13 quarters of play-a second quarter Jets field goal on Dec. 4 and a fourth quarter Bills touchdown on Dec. 11. Today's two scoreless halves marks the fourth time in the Patriots' last five halves that they have held their opponents scoreless. Today's shutout was the 21st such victory in franchise history.
DOMINATING DOZENWith touchdown receptions by Tom Ashworth and Corey Dillon today, the Patriots now have had 12 players catch at least one touchdown pass this season, setting a franchise record. That mark bested the old record of 11 players catching a scoring pass, set in 2002. New England's dozen scorers of receiving touchdowns break down as follows: 6 wide receivers; 3 tight ends; 1 running back; 1 linebacker; 1 offensive tackle.
CAREER DAY FOR GIVENSDavid Givens recorded a career-high 137 yards on six receptions today, besting his previous high of 130 yards at Pittsburgh on Sep. 25, 2005. It was his second 100-yard game this season and the sixth of his career. He got off to a strong start in the first quarter, with two receptions over 30 yards-a 32-yarder in the Patriots' first possession of the game and a 32-yard catch on the first play of the second possession. He added a 37-yard catch in the fourth quarter, and now has 56 receptions on the year - tying his career high set in 2004.
NO RUSHING ZONEThe New England defense held the Buccaneers to just 30 rushing yards on 18 carries (1.7 avg) after holding the Buffalo Bills to just 14 rushing yards on 12 carries (1.2 avg) on Dec. 11, which was the second fewest rushing yards allowed in team history. Combined with a 41-yard effort against the New York Jets on Dec. 4, the Patriots have allowed just 85 total rushing yards in their last three games (28.3 ypg avg).
TOUCHDOWN TOMMYOffensive tackle Tom Ashworth lined up as an eligible receiver and caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter, giving the Patriots a 7-0 lead. Ashworth began his college career as a tight end at the University of Colorado before switching to offensive tackle in the fifth game of his junior season. Ashworth became the 11th player to catch a touchdown pass for the Patriots this season.
BRADY SETS CAREER HIGHWith his 27-yard completion to Tim Dwight in the second quarter, Tom Brady set a new career high for passing yardage in a season. The two-time Super Bowl MVP's season total stood at 3,771 yards following the completion to Dwight, besting his previous career high of 3,764 yards (2002). The sixth-year signal caller entered this week's action leading the NFL with 3,630 yards. With his 258 yards today, Brady now has 3,888 yards and is on pace to throw for 4,443 yards this season, a number that would rank second in franchise history behind only Drew Bledsoe's franchise-record 4,555 yards in 1994.
SACK ATTACKThe Patriots recorded 7 sacks today, their highest sack total of the season and the most sacks since the Patriots dropped Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb eight times on Sep. 14, 2003. The Patriots' previous single-game high in 2005 was four sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 25.
BRILLIANT BRADYTom Brady's three passing touchdowns today marked his 18th career game in which he has thrown three or more touchdowns, including the playoffs. In those games, Brady boasts a stellar 17-1 record, with his only loss coming against Indianapolis on Nov. 7, 2005. In his career, Brady has thrown for multiple touchdowns (2 or more) 42 times, and has amassed a 37-5 record in those games, including the playoffs. Brady compiled a passer rating of 122.8, raising his career record to 31-1 (including playoffs) when he records a rating of 100.0 or better.
HOME SWEET HOMEThe Patriots have recorded a 29-5 (.853) all-time record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games. New England has won 25 of its last 27 regular-season and postseason contests at home. New England's .853 home winning percentage is the highest of any NFL team since Gillette Stadium opened in time for the 2002 season. The Patriots achieved perfect 8-0 regular-season home records in 2003 and 2004 and have also notched a 3-0 home playoff record at Gillette Stadium. New England won a franchise-record 21 consecutive home games between 2002 and 2005. Including the playoffs, Tom Brady is 36-6 in his career as a starter in home games.
COREY SCORESCorey Dillon scored two touchdowns today - one rushing and one receiving - bringing his team-leading touchdown total to 11 (10 rushing, 1 receiving). He scored his first touchdown of the day on a 3-yard run in the second quarter that gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead. His 2-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter to make the score 28-0 marked the first touchdown reception by a Patriots running back this season. The touchdowns give Dillon 67 career rushing touchdowns and seven career receiving touchdowns. Dillon has 22 rushing scores and two receiving scores since joining the Patriots prior to the 2004 season. Dillon has now scored 24 touchdowns in 26 regular-season games with the Patriots. Dillon's 22 rushing touchdowns as a Patriot moves him ahead of Antowain Smith for sixth in franchise history.
WILLIE MAC ATTACKWillie McGinest sacked Chris Simms twice today, giving him a team-leading 5.5 sacks for the season and 77.5 total career sacks. McGinest's sack total ranks third in Patriots history, and he trails Julius Adams' second-place total (79.5 sacks from 1971-87) by just two sacks. Andre Tippett (1982-87, 89-93) is the Patriots' all-time leader with 100.0 career sacks.
COLVIN'S ON FIRERosevelt Colvin continued his streak of solid play, recording a sack for his fourth consecutive game. Colvin's 8-yard sack of Chris Simms on the first play of the second quarter raised his team-leading season total to 6.5 sacks. Colvin has now recorded 13.5 sacks since joining the Patriots prior to the 2003 season, a period over which he has started 12 of 32 games (including a start today).
TEDY BRUSCHIWith his two sacks today, Bruschi registered his 4th career multiple sack game, including the playoffs. Bruschi recorded his first sack of the season when he dropped Chris Simms for an 11-yard loss in the third quarter. Bruschi forced Simms to fumble on the play, but the Buccaneers were able to recover the ball. In the fourth quarter, Bruschi dropped Simms for an 8-yard sack on first down. His two sacks brought his career regular-season sack total to 28.5. The Patriots are now 22-2 in the 24 regular-season games in which Bruschi has recorded at least one sack.
TOUCHDOWN FOR GIVENSDavid Givens caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady late in the second quarter, scoring his second touchdown of the season and the 12th receiving touchdown of his career.
POINTS OFF TURNOVERSMike Vrabel sacked Chris Simms for an 8-yard loss in the second quarter and forced him to fumble on the play. Willie McGinest recovered the ball, giving the Patriots possession on Tampa's 27-yard line. New England proceeded to convert the turnover into a touchdown (a 16-yard toss from Tom Brady to David Givens that gave the Patriots a commanding 21-0 lead). Last week in Buffalo, the Patriots scored touchdowns following all three of their forced turnovers. New England has now scored touchdowns following four straight turnovers and has reached the end zone following five of their last six turnovers, dating back to their game at Kansas City on Nov. 27.
FIRST QUARTER SHUTOUT … AGAINThe Patriots kept Tampa Bay off of the scoreboard in the first quarter today, marking the eighth time in the last 10 games that the New England defense has produced a first-quarter blanking. The Patriots have held their opponents scoreless in three straight first quarters and have done so in four of their last five games. In their last 10 games, New England has allowed just 14 first-quarter points, an average of just 1.4 points per game.
TOM IS HOT WHEN IT'S COLDThe temperature at kickoff today was 38 degrees, and with the victory, Tom Brady improved to 20-0 as a starter when the temperature is below 40 degrees. Each of the Patriots' last three games have fallen into that category, with the kickoff temperature at Buffalo last week registering at 30 degrees and the kickoff temperature against the Jets at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 4 checking in at 26 degrees, in addition to today's 38-degree temperature.
SOLD OUT IN FOXBOROUGH
Today's game is the 124th consecutive home sellout for the Patriots, including regular-season, preseason and playoff games. The streak is now in its 12th season and dates back to the 1994 regular-season opener - Robert Kraft's first regular-season game as owner of the Patriots. Additionally, today's game is the 257th straight Patriots game to be televised locally. The last time New England fans were faced with a TV blackout was against Indianapolis on Dec. 26, 1993.