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Patriots face Chargers for AFC Championship

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (17-0) vs SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (13-5)
Sunday, January 20, 2008 - Gillette Stadium (68,756) - 3:00 p.m. EST

The Patriots will host the San Diego Chargers on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game with a berth in Super Bowl XLII at stake. New England will host the title game for the third time overall and for the second time since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. New England will face a tough test against San Diego, a team that has won eight straight games and has not lost since before Thanksgiving. Over the final six games of the regular season, the Chargers led the league in allowing just 12.5 points per game and ranked second in the NFL over that span by scoring 30.5 points per came. San Diego also ranked second in yards gained and yards allowed over that period. Over the entire regular season, the Chargers led the NFL in turnover differential ( 24), takeaways (48) and opponent passer rating (70.0) while featuring the NFL's leading rusher (LaDainian Tomlinson, 1,474 yards) and the league's leading interceptor (Antonio Cromartie, 10).

PATRIOTS IN AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMESThe Patriots are 5-1 in AFC Championship Games since the Super Bowl Era began following the 1966 season. The Patriots will play in the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year, for the fourth time in five years, for the fifth time in seven seasons and for the sixth time in the 12 seasons since 1996.

PERFECT REGULAR SEASON
The 2007 Patriots are the fourth NFL team to win all of their regular season games since the league was founded in 1920. The Patriots are the first team to accomplish the feat since the NFL season expanded from 14 games to 16 games in 1978. New England joins the 1972 Dolphins as the only teams to accomplish the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and joins the 1972 Dolphins as the only teams in NFL history to complete an undefeated and untied regular season and also win a playoff game.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: The game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Phil Simms providing analysis.

RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 33 stations can be found here. Play-byplay broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 31st 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 24th season as a tandem.

NATIONAL RADIO: The game will be broadcast to a national radio audience by Westwood One. Dave Sims will handle play-by-play and Bob Trumpy will provide analysis. John Dockery will report from the sidelines.

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots and Chargers will play for the 36th time overall and for the third time in a little over a calendar year. In last season's divisional playoffs on January 14, 2007, the Patriots claimed a 24-21 victory in San Diego to advance to the AFC Championship Game. The Patriots also defeated the Chargers, 38-14 in New England's 2007 regular-season home opener on Sept. 16, 2007. The series dates back to 1960, the inaugural season for each team, with the Patriots holding a 19-14- 2 lead, including a 1-1 mark in the playoffs. In addition to last season's divisional playoff game, the clubs also met in the 1963 American Football League Championship Game. In the last 35 years, the Patriots are 12-2 against San Diego, including regular-season and playoff games.

QUICK HITS

  • The Patriots will make their fifth conference championship game appearance this decade – the highest total in the NFL over that span. No other AFC team has made more than three appearances (Pittsburgh) and no NFC team has made more than four appearances (Philadelphia) this decade.
  • Since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000, New England is 5-2 (.714) in playoff games against teams that they also played in the regular season. New England and San Diego squared off at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 16, 2007.
  • Since 2001, the Patriots are 23-7 (.767) when playing a team for the second or third time in a season.
  • The Patriots are hosting the Chargers in a playoff game for the first time and are hosting an AFC West team in the playoffs for just the second time. The Patriots' only other home playoff game against an AFC West team came on Jan. 19, 2002, when New England beat the Oakland Raiders 16-13 in overtime in a divisional playoff matchup.

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Tom Brady has started five times against San Diego and has recorded a 3-2 record in those games, including a 2-2 regularseason mark and a 1-0 playoff record. Brady has thrown for 275 or more yards in four of his five career games against the Chargers, has thrown for multiple touchdowns four times in his five games and has attempted 50 or more passes in three of the five contests. The Chargers are one of only three non-division opponents to which Brady has multiple losses in his career (2). The others are Denver (5) and Indianapolis (3).

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots linebacker Junior Seau played for the Chargers for 13 seasons from 1990-2002 and earned 12 consecutive Pro Bowl berths. He was San Diego's team MVP for five straight seasons from 1997-2001. Seau also attended high school in Oceanside, Calif.
  • Patriots safety Rodney Harrison played for the Chargers for nine seasons from 1994-2002. He earned Pro Bowl berths with San Diego in 1998 and 2001 and was selected as Chargers defensive player of the year four times (1996-97, 2000-01).
  • Patriots guard Stephen Neal was born in San Diego and attended San Diego High School, where he was a five-sport athlete, lettering in football, wrestling, swimming, tennis and track & field.
  • Patriots tight end Kyle Brady and Chargers safety Marlon McCree were teammates while both were with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2001-03.
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was the New York Jets' assistant head coach/secondary in 1997, when Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal played for the Jets.
  • Chargers head coach Norv Turner was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2005, when Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss played for the Raiders.
  • Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss and Chargers offensive lineman Cory Withrow were teammates with the Minnesota Vikings for six seasons from 1999-2004.
  • Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs and Chargers linebacker Tim Dobbins played together at Iowa State in 2004.
  • Chargers defensive tackle Ryon Bingham played with Patriots offensive lineman Russ Hochstein (1999-2000) and defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith (2002-03) at the University of Nebraska.
  • Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light played with Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips at Purdue from 1999-2000.
  • Chargers head coach Norv Turner was the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator from 1991-93, during which time Patriots strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik held the same position with Dallas.
  • Chargers special teams coach Steve Crosby was the special teams/tight ends coach for the Patriots in 1990. Crosby also served on Bill Belichick's coaching staff with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94, coaching running backs (1991-93) and serving as the offensive coordinator (1994).
  • Chargers inside linebackers coach Ron Rivera was a linebacker for the Chicago Bears in their Super Bowl XX victory over the Patriots.
  • Patriots cornerback Antwain Spann is a native of Oceanside, Calif., in northern San Diego County.
  • Chargers wide receiver Kassim Osgood was born in Boston.
  • Chargers defensive end Jacques Cesaire is a native of Gardner, Mass. and attended Gardner High School before playing his college ball at Southern Connecticut State.
  • Chargers linebacker Stephen Cooper is a native of Wareham, Mass. and attended Wareham High School before playing his college ball at the University of Maine.
  • Chargers fullback Andrew Pinnock was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was named "Mr. Football" in Connecticut in 1998.
  • Chargers quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell attended Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
  • Patriots assistant strength and conditioning coach Don Davis and Chargers running back Darren Sproles are both natives of Olathe, Kan.
  • Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel caught his first career touchdown pass against San Diego on Sept. 29, 2002.
  • Patriots linebacker Junior Seau and Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel both attended the University of Southern California.

PATRIOTS TIED FOR BEST CHAMP. GAME RECORD
The Patriots are 5-1 all-time in conference championship games in the Super Bowl era (1966-present). New England's .833 winning percentage is the best in the AFC over that span among teams that have made at least four conference championship appearances. The Patriots are tied with the Washington Redskins for the NFL lead in the category.

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