NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (10-5) vs. MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-7)
Sunday, January 1, 2006
Gillette Stadium (68,756)
1:00 p.m. EST
The Patriots will close out the regular season when the Miami Dolphins visit Foxborough on New Year's Day. Miami looks to pose a potent challenge for the Patriots as they gear up for the playoffs. The Dolphins have won five straight games - running up the longest current winning streak in the AFC. The Patriots will try to continue a success streak of their own (four straight wins and six victories in their last seven games) as they hope to maintain momentum heading into the postseason.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a regional audience by CBS *and can be seen in Boston on *WBZ Channel 4. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst Randy Cross.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 29th 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 22nd season as a broadcast tandem.
PATRIOTS TO CELEBRATE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF 1985 AFC TITLEIn a halftime ceremony during this week's game, the Patriots will honor their 1985 team - the squad that brought New England its first conference championship. More than 40 members of that team will return to Foxborough to give Patriots fans another chance to join them in celebrating the historic accomplishment. It was nearly 20 years ago, on Jan. 12, 1986, that the Patriots defeated the Dolphins in Miami, 31-14, to win the AFC Championship and advance to the Super Bowl for the first time. At the time, it was considered the franchise's greatest victory and remains one of the most memorable moments in team history. This week, Patriots fans will get to relive those memories with the players and coaches who provided them nearly 20 years ago.
PLAYOFF POSSIBILITIESNew England Patriots - 2005 AFC East Champions
The Patriots have clinched the 2005 AFC East title and have won three straight division championships for the first time in team history. New England will host a playoff game during the weekend of Jan. 7-8. If the Patriots defeat the Dolphins on Sunday and the Cincinnati Bengals lose on the road to the Kansas City Chiefs, New England will claim the third seed in the AFC playoffs and will host the AFC's sixth seed in the first round (either Pittsburgh or Kansas City). In that scenario, both the Patriots and Bengals would both finish 11-5, but the Patriots would claim the higher seed based on a better conference record (8-4 to 7-5). If the Patriots lose to the Dolphins or the Bengals beat the Chiefs, then New England will be seeded fourth in the AFC playoffs and will host the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have clinched the fifth seed.
HOT WHEN IT'S COLDThe weather may turn cold late in the NFL season, but in recent years the Patriots have remained red hot. New England has historically responded well to the cold, compiling a 20-1 record since 1993 when the temperature is 34 degrees or less. And when it gets even colder the Patriots get even better - they're 14-0 since 1993 when it's 30 degrees or less. New England has also won 15 straight games when it's been 35 degrees or less. Additionally, quarterback Tom Brady has been perfect in cold conditions, going 20-0 as a starter when the kickoff temperature is below 40 degrees.
SERIES HISTORYThe New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will meet for the 81st time in their history in their 40th year as division foes. The Patriots have won five of the last six matchups between the teams, including the last four games in Foxborough. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins in Miami on Nov. 13, 2005, with a late touchdown to overcome a 1-point deficit and claim a 23-16 victory. New England trails in the overall series, 46-34 including the postseason. With a victory, New England would sweep the season series with the Dolphins for the first time since 2003 and for just the sixth time since the teams began squaring off in 1966. The last time Miami visited Gillette Stadium was on Oct. 10, 2004, a game in which the Patriots set the all-time pro football record with their 19th consecutive victory. The Patriots are 8-2 in their last 10 home games against Miami, dating back to the 1996 season.
- Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick hired Nick Saban as his defensive coordinator when Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 1991. The pair worked together with the Browns for four seasons from 1991-94, and the 1994 Browns allowed an average of 12.8 points per game.
- While serving as the head coach at Louisiana State University from 2000-04, Dolphins Head Coach Nick Saban coached two players on the Patriots active roster: defensive lineman Jarvis Green and defensive end Marquise Hill.
- Patriots wide receivers coach Brian Daboll, quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels and linebackers coach Dean Pees were all on Head Coach Nick Saban's staff at Michigan State. Pees was the defensive coordinator on Saban's staff from 1995-97, Daboll was a graduate assistant from 1998-99 and McDaniels was a graduate assistant in 1999. Pees was also the defensive coordinator on Saban's staff at Toledo in 1990.
- Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent. In his five seasons with the team he appeared in 61 games and recorded 95 special teams tackles. He was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2000 season with the Dolphins.
- Patriots fullback Heath Evans played in the first six games of the 2005 season for the Dolphins and earned two starts. He was signed by the Patriots on Nov. 1, 2005. Evans is a native of West Palm Beach, Fla.
- Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel is originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and attended Central Florida. He played quarterback, defensive back, kicker and punter on Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lake, Fla.) High School's football team.
- Dolphins defensive tackle Keith Traylor played for the Patriots in 2004, starting 10 of 16 games at nose tackle.
- Patriots assistant secondary coach Joel Collier was a member of the Dolphins coaching staff for 11 seasons prior to joining the Patriots for the 2005 season. Collier served as Miami's defensive staff assistant from 1994-97, then was the team's running backs coach from 1998-2004.
- Patriots running back Patrick Pass and defensive lineman Richard Seymour were teammates of Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael at the University of Georgia.
- Patriots rookie defensive lineman Vince Wilfork was a standout defensive tackle at the University of Miami, where he recorded 148 tackles and 14 sacks from 2001-2003.
- Patriots defensive lineman Marquise Hill's position coach at Louisiana State in his senior year of 2003 was Dolphins assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones.
- Patriots defensive lineman Marquise Hill played under Dolphins assistant head coach/defense Will Muschamp when he was the defensive coordinator for Louisiana State from 2002-03.
- Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch's offensive coordinator at the University of Louisville from 1999-2001 was Dolphins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
- Patriots strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik held the same position for the New Orleans Saints from 1997-99, while Miami offensive quality control coach Judd Garrett was an offensive assistant for the Saints during the same time period.
- Dolphins defensive quality control coach Glenn Pires is a native of New Bedford, Mass., and was a four-year letterman at Springfield (Mass.) College from 1976-79. Pires began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Melrose (Mass.) High School in 1980.
- Dolphins coordinator of football operations/assistant to the head coach Scott O'Brien was hired by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick as the special teams coach for the Cleveland Browns in 1991. O'Brien was the special teams coach on Belichick's staff from 1991-94.
BEAST OF THE EASTNew England has won 15 of its last 16 divisional games and owns the best record among AFC East teams in division games since the beginning of the 2001 season (25-6). The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins rank second with a 14-17 record. Buffalo has 10-21 record. In their last 28 divisional games, the Patriots are 24-4.
SOLID PLAY IN JANUARYThe Patriots will play a regular-season game in the month of January for the sixth time in team history and have won all five of their previous regular-season games in the month. The Patriots will play their regular season finale in January for the second consecutive season. Including the playoffs, the Patriots have won each of their last nine games in the month of January, dating back to the 1999 season finale.
SOLID DOWN THE STRETCHOver the last four seasons, the Patriots have stepped things up notch as the calendar has flipped to November. Since 2001, New England has done a remarkable job of finishing the season strong, compiling a 45-7 (.865) record after Nov. 1, including playoff games. In fact, since the 2003 season, the Patriots are 28-3 (.903) in games played in November or later, and New England has won 29 of its last 32 games post-Nov. 1. Their record in such games is the best in the NFL since 2001.
LATE-SEASON SUCCESSThe Patriots have not lost a game played after Christmas Day since the 1999 season, when they dropped a 13-10 decision in overtime at Buffalo on Dec. 26, 1999. Since then, they are 16-0 in games played later than Dec. 25 (including 9-0 in the playoffs). Since 2001, the Patriots are 31-4 (.886) in games played after Thanksgiving Day.
The Patriots' all-time record in home games played during the month of January, including regular-season and playoff games (4-0 regular season; 6-0 playoffs).
The Patriots' all-time record in regular-season games played during the month of January.
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won during the month of January, including regular-season and playoff contests.
The combined score of the Patriots' four December games in 2005.
The number of quarters in which the Patriots scored points in December. New England was held scoreless in only two quarters during the month.
The number of quarters in which the Patriots did not allow their opponents to score in December. New England allowed scoring in just four of 16 quarters during the month.
The Patriots' turnover differential during the month of December.
The Patriots' combined turnover differential during the first three months of the season.
THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM
The Patriots' success rate on third downs during the month of December (35/66).
The success rate of Patriots opponents on third down during December (17/50).
The Patriots' success rate on third downs during the first three months of the season (53/141).
The success rate of Patriots opponents on third down during the first three months of the season (66/152)
Consecutive regular-season games in which Tom Brady has started at quarterback, the longest consecutive starts streak on the team.
Consecutive games in which Willie McGinest has started at outside linebacker, the longest consecutive starts streak on the Patriots defense.
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have played without recording back-to-back losses.
The number of consecutive games the Patriots have won when the game-time temperature is 35 degrees or less.
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.
AVOIDING THE HOLIDAY RUSH
The average number of rushing yards per game allowed by the Patriots during the month of December, 2005.
New England's NFL rank for rush defense entering the month of December, 2005 (averaging 118.8 ypg).
New England's NFL rank for rush defense following their four December 2005 games (now averaging 95.5 ypg for the season).
The highest rushing yardage total by an opposing running back in December 2005 (Curtis Martin, NYJ, on 15 carries on Dec. 4).
The total number of rushing yards the Buffalo Bills gained against the Patriots on Dec. 11, the second fewest rushing yards allowed by the Patriots in team history.
The number of rushing yards Corey Dillon needs to pass Eddie George (10,441) and claim 16th place on the NFL's all-time rushing list.
The number of receiving yards Troy Brown needs to become the second player in Patriots history to record 6,000 or more receiving yards, joining Stanley Morgan, who holds the team record with 10,352 yards.
The number of touchdown receptions Deion Branch needs to set a new single-season career high. He enters this week's game with four scoring grabs, tying a career high that he established in 2004.
The number of sacks Willie McGinest needs to pass Julius Adams (79.5 sacks) for second place on the team's all-time sacks list.
Tom Brady's career record as a starter when the game-time temperature is less than 40 degrees (including playoffs).
The number of times Brady has not thrown an interception in his 20 starts when the game-time temperature is less than 40.
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 35 degrees or less (.923 winning percentage).
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 34 degrees or less (.952 winning percentage).
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 30 degrees or less.
SOLID DOWN THE STRETCH
Tom Brady's career record in games played on Thanksgiving or later in the NFL season (.886 winning percentage), including playoff games.
The number of victories the Patriots have earned in their last 23 post-Thanksgiving games, including playoff games, dating back to the 2002 season finale.
The number of consecutive victories for the Patriots after Christmas, including playoff games.