The New England Patriots travel to Cleveland this weekend to begin the final stretch of the season with a clash against the Browns. The Patriots enter the game riding a four-game winning streak, continuing a stretch of 25 victories in their last 26 games. New England head coach Bill Belichick will face his former team for the fourth time since arriving in Foxborough, as the non-divisional rivals will square off for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
The Patriots and Browns will stage a rematch of last season's defensive tussle at Gillette Stadium in which neither team managed to find the end zone. With Cleveland's offense coming off of a 48-point outburst last week at Cincinnati, the Patriots defense will face a tough challenge in trying to replicate last year's stellar effort against the Browns. New England's offense will be reminded of the tough defense that the Browns showed a season ago, allowing just three Adam Vinatieri field goals at Gillette Stadium.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be televised by CBS to a regional audience. The game can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Kevin Harlan will handle the play-by-play duties, while Randy Cross will provide analysis.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 28th 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 21st season as a broadcast tandem.
NOT HALF BAD
One of the keys to New England's recent success has been the ability to close out victories by protecting second-half leads. The Patriots have won 29 consecutive games in which they have led at halftime and 36 straight games in which they have led after three quarters, recording the longest such current streaks in the NFL and coming close to setting post-merger NFL records. New England has not lost a game in which it led at halftime since Oct. 28, 2001, and has not lost when it led after three quarters since Dec. 24, 2000. During their streaks, the Patriots have come back to win six times when facing a halftime deficit and four times when trailing entering the fourth quarter.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST
The Patriots have five games left in the 2004 season, and since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000, the Patriots have saved their best football for the end of the season. Since 2000, New England is a combined 15-5 (.750) in its last five games of the campaign. Last year, the Patriots were 5-0 in their last five games, following a 2002 season where they closed out with a 3-2 record and a 2001 campaign in which New England swept its final five contests.