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Patriots face Broncos in divsional playoff clash

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS(11-6) atDENVER BRONCOS** (13-3)
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Invesco Field at Mile High (76,125)
8:00 p.m. EST

The 2005 AFC East Champion New England Patriots will travel to Denver on Saturday night to face the Broncos with a berth in the AFC Championship Game on the line. Denver, the AFC West champions and the bearer of the second seed in the AFC playoffs, is coming off of a first-round playoff bye and won eight of its last nine regular season games. New England has won seven of its last nine games, including a 28-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in last week's Wild Card Round, the Patriots' NFL-record 10th consecutive playoff win. This week's game is a rematch of an Oct. 16 battle won by Denver, 28-20.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst Phil Simms. Bonnie Bernstein will report from the sidelines.

RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 36 stations can be found in this press release. 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.

RULERS OF THE REMATCHSince 2001, the Patriots are 18-3 (.857) when playing a team for the second time in a season and are 6-0 when facing an opponent against whom they had suffered a loss earlier in the same season. New England dropped a 28-20 decision in Denver on Oct. 16, and will have a rematch with the Broncos this week. The Patriots have outscored their opponents 516-315 in their 21 rematches since 2001.

PLAYOFF WINNING STREAKThe Patriots have won an all-time NFL record 10 consecutive playoff games and have surpassed the previous record of nine, held by the 1960s Green Bay Packers teams coached by Vince Lombardi. The Patriots have not lost a playoff game since Jan. 3, 1999, when they dropped a 25-10 decision to the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a Wild Card Weekend game in Jacksonville. Since then, the Patriots have gone 10-0 in the playoffs and have won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX.

SERIES HISTORYThe Patriots and Broncos will meet for the second time this season and for the second time in the teams' playoff history. The game is a rematch a Week Six clash, which the Broncos won 28-20 in Denver. Despite the limited playoff meetings between the teams, the nondivisional foes are quite familiar with each other, with this week's game serving as the 40th overall meeting between the clubs in a series that dates back to 1960. New England and Denver will meet the 11th time in the last 11 seasons, with Denver holding a 7-3 edge in the previous 10 games. The teams have split the last six meetings dating back to 1999. The history between the teams dates back to the first days of the American Football League in 1960. The Patriots played the Broncos in the inaugural game of each franchise, a 13-10 Denver win on Sept. 9, 1960 at B.U. Field. The teams squared off twice a year in the decade prior to the AFL-NFL merger, with the Patriots taking a 10-7 advantage out of those games.

SERIES BREAKDOWN*(Including Playoffs)
*Overall Record.....................15-24 (Including 0-1 in playoffs)
Record in New England .............7-8
Record in Denver...................8-16 (Including 0-1 in playoffs)
Total Points in the Series.........Denver 926, Patriots 794
Bill Belichick vs. Denver..........2-7 (2-3 with New England)
Mike Shanahan vs. New England......7-3

PASSING PERFORMANCESThe Patriots have compiled a 1-3 record against the Denver Broncos in games that Tom Brady has started. The Broncos are one of just four teams against which Brady has a losing record. The others are Washington (0-1), Green Bay (0-1) and San Diego (1-2). Brady owns a record of .500 or better against 27 of the 31 NFL teams.

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 46-8 (.852) record after Nov. 1, including playoff games. In fact, since the 2003 season, the Patriots are 29-4 (.879) in games played in November or later, and New England has won 30 of its last 34 games post-Nov. 1. Their record in such games is the best in the NFL since 2001. Additionally, since 2001, the Patriots are 32-5 (.865) in games played after Thanksgiving Day.

PATRIOTS IN DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
The Patriots have compiled a 6-4 all-time record in divisional playoff games, including a 3-1 home mark in such contests. The Patriots have won four of their last five divisional round games and have been victorious in five of their last seven such contests.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was an assistant special teams coach and an assistant to the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 1978. While Belichick was head coach of the Cleveland Browns he hired Jacob Burney as a defensive line coach. Burney is currently defensive line/ends coach for the Broncos.
  • Patriots tight end Daniel Graham was raised in Denver. father, Tom, played three seasons for the Broncos. Graham played his high school football at Thomas Jefferson High Denver and played his college football for the University Colorado in Boulder, Colo.
  • Patriots tackle Tom Ashworth was born in Denver played football and baseball at Cherry Creek High Englewood, Colo., a suburb of Denver. He played his college football at the University of Colorado.
  • Patriots linebacker Chad Brown was a four-year starter the University of Colorado, where he was a two-time firstteam All-Big Eight Conference selection. Brown and family have a permanent home in Lone Tree, Colo., a suburb just south of Denver.
  • Patriots tight end Christian Fauria played at the University of Colorado, where he had 98 receptions, 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns and was team captain as a senior. He set the Big Eight conference record for career receptions by a tight end.
  • Broncos wide receiver David Terrell was with the Patriots for 2005 training camp and was a teammate of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at the University of Michigan in 1998 and 1999.
  • Broncos center Tom Nalen was born in Foxborough, Mass., attended Foxboro High and attended Boston College.
  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Broncos linebacker Ian Gold were four-year teammates at the University of Michigan.
  • Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour, Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson and Patriots fullback Patrick Pass were all teammates of Broncos tackle George Foster at the University of Georgia.
  • Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest and Broncos safety Marques Anderson both attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Calif.
  • Patriots assistant secondary coach Joel Collier's father, Joe Collier, was an assistant coach for the Broncos for 20 seasons from 1969-1988. Joel Collier served as a ballboy for the Broncos while growing up and went on to attend Northern Colorado University, where he was a three-year starter at inside linebacker.
  • Patriots tight ends coach Pete Mangurian was an assistant coach for the Broncos for five seasons from 1988-92. He served as Denver's tight ends/H-Backs coach (1988-90) and also as the Broncos' offensive line coach (1991-92).
  • Broncos defensive line/tackles coach Andre Patterson was a defensive assistant for the Patriots in 1997.
  • Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely was a graduate assistant at Colorado State in 1979 and served as the Rams' offensive line coach in 1980. Seely also served on the New York Jets coaching staff in 1994 with Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.
  • Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch caught the longest pass of his career - a 66-yard touchdown - at Denver on Nov. 3, 2003.
  • Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown caught a career-high two touchdown passes at Denver on Oct. 1, 2000.
  • Patriots fullback Patrick Pass had the most productive game of his career at Denver on Oct. 16, 2005, totaling 153 yards from scrimmage, nearly three times his previous career high in that category.

DOMINATING DUOTom Brady and Bill Belichick make up the NFL's winningest head coach-quarterback combination since the AFL-NFL merger 35 years ago, including regular season and playoff games. Brady has started 88 consecutive regular-season and playoff games for the Patriots and the team has compiled a 68-20 record in those games, dating back to Week 3 of the 2001 season.

PATRIOTS IN THE PLAYOFFSNew England has now qualified for the playoffs 14 times in its 46-year history. The Patriots have earned eight playoff berths in the 12 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence. New England has won nine division crowns and has qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players' strike.

CONSECUTIVE STREAKS

10
The number of consecutive playoff games the Patriots have won since dropping a 25-10 decision to Jacksonville on Jan. 3, 1999. New England's playoff winning streak is an NFL record.

8
The number of consecutive home playoff games the Patriots have won since dropping a 31-14 decision to the Houston Oilers at Schaefer Stadium on Dec. 31, 1978.

3
The number of consecutive AFC East championships the Patriots have won, setting a franchise record.

3
The number of consecutive seasons the Patriots have qualified for the playoffs, tying a franchise record (1996-98).

88
Consecutive regular-season and playoff games in which Tom Brady has started at quarterback, the longest starting streak on the team.

45
Consecutive regular-season and playoff games in which Willie McGinest has started at outside linebacker, the longest consecutive starts streak on the Patriots defense.

49
The number of consecutive regular season games the Patriots have played without recording back-to-back losses.

259
Consecutive Patriots games televised locally, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games.

125
Consecutive sellouts in Foxborough, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games.

DIGGING DEEP - OFFENSE

71.7%
The Patriots third-down conversion percentage on third-and short(three or fewer yards to go) in the 2005 regular season, a mark that tied for the NFL lead (Seattle). The Patriots were 38-for-53 when they faced a third-and-three or less.

100%
The percentage of time the Patriots scored a touchdown when they had a first-and-goal situation from the five-yard line or closer. New England scored on all 16 such opportunities and was one of just three NFL teams (Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay) to score touchdowns on all of their chances in 2005.

62
The number of pass plays of 20 yards or more that the Patriots completed in 2005. That figure ranked second in the NFL behind only the Arizona Cardinals (63). Kansas City ranked third with 51 such plays.

1,919
The number of yards after the catch gained by Patriots receivers in 2005, leading the NFL. Arizona ranked second with 1,844 yards after the catch.

DIGGING DEEP - DEFENSE

1
The number of rushing plays of more than 20 yards allowed by the Patriots in 2005, giving up the fewest such plays in the NFL.

56
The total number of points allowed by the Patriots in the first half during the second half of the season, the second fewest in the NFL (Denver, 52).

8.5
The average number of points that the Patriots had allowed entering the fourth quarter during the second half of the season (since Nov. 13), ranking second in the NFL (Denver, 7.25).

SOLID DOWN THE STRETCH

32-5
Tom Brady's career record in games played on Thanksgiving or later in the NFL season (.865 winning percentage), including playoff games.

22
The number of victories the Patriots have earned in their last 25 post-Thanksgiving games, including playoff games, dating back to the 2002 season finale.

16-1
The Patriots' overall record in games played after Christmas Day since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000.

HOME SWEET HOME

30-6
The Patriots' all-time record at Gillette Stadium, the best record of any NFL team in its home stadium since it opened in 2002 (.833 winning pct). The record includes a 4-0 playoff mark.

15.67
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed at Gillette Stadium, the best mark in the NFL since 2002.

68.25
Patriots opponents' field goal percentage at Gillette Stadium, the lowest in the NFL since 2002 (43-63).

83.56
Adam Vinatieri's field goal percentage at Gillette Stadium (61-73), 15 percent better than Patriots opponents.

ICE MEN

21-1
Tom Brady's career record as a starter when the game-time temperature is less than 40 degrees (including playoffs).

13
The number of times Brady has not thrown an interception in his 21 starts when the game-time temperature is less than 40.

25-3
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 35 degrees or less (.893 winning percentage).

21-2
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 34 degrees or less (.913 winning percentage).

15-1
The Patriots' record since 1993 when the game-time temperature is 30 degrees or less (.938 winning percentage).

AVOIDING THE HOLIDAY RUSH

31.3
The average number of rushing yards per game allowed by the Patriots during the month of December, 2005.

21
New England's NFL rank for rush defense entering the month of December, 2005 (averaging 118.8 ypg).

4
New England's NFL rank for rush defense following their four December 2005 games.

29
The highest rushing yardage total by an opposing running back in December 2005 (Curtis Martin, NYJ, on 15 carries on Dec. 4).

14
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.

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