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Patriots head to Detroit for Thanksgiving matchup

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Patriots (8-2) at Lions (2-8)
Thurs., Nov. 25, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. EST
Ford Field (64,500)

The New England Patriots will travel to Detroit to play the Lions on Thanksgiving this Thursday. It will be the Patriots' fourth Thanksgiving Day game and the third against the Lions on Thanksgiving. The last time the Patriots played on Thanksgiving Day was Nov. 28, 2002 when New England defeated Detroit, 20-12, at Ford Field. The Patriots have been successful against NFC teams in recent seasons, compiling a 32-5 (.865) regular-season record against the conference since 2001. Including the postseason, the Patriots are 35-6 (.854) against the NFC with a 3-1 Super Bowl record since 2001.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience 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 color. The game will be produced by Lance Barrow and directed by Mike Arnold.

NATIONAL RADIO:This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Westwood One. Larry Kahn and Dan Foutswill call the game. Laura Okmin will work the sidelines.

RADIO:98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 36 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 34th 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 27th season as a tandem.

PATRIOTS ON THANKSGIVING
This week's game will mark the Patriots' fourth appearance in a Thanksgiving Game and the third against Detroit on Thanksgiving.

PATRIOTS ON THANKSGIVING (1-2)
11/24/1984 at Dallas - 17-20 (L)
11/23/2000 at Detroit - 9-34 (L)
11/28/2002 at Detroit - 20-12 (W)

PATRIOTS THROWBACK GAME
The 2010 season marks the 25th anniversary of the 1985 AFC Championship team. To help honor the 1985 season, the Patriots will wear throwback uniforms that replicate the ones worn by that team on Thursday. It is the second of two games in 2010 in which the Patriots will wear throwback uniforms. The Patriots wore throwback uniforms against Minnesota on Oct. 31. The Patriots will wear red jerseys with white pants and a white helmet featuring the 'Pat Patriot' logo with white facemasks. The Patriots are 6-3 in throwback uniforms.

STRONG IN THE SECOND HALF
Since 2001, New England has done a remarkable job of finishing the season strong, compiling an NFL-best 77-23 (.777) record after Nov. 1, including playoff games

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots will face the Lions for the tenth time in a series that dates back to 1971. The teams will tangle for the first time since 2006, when the Patriots claimed a 28-21 victory on Dec. 3, 2006 at Gillette Stadium. That game marked Detroit's first and only visit to Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots lead the all-time series with a 5-4 margin, including a 2-2 record in games played in Detroit. The Patriots are 1-0 at Detroit's Ford Field, winning 20-12 on a Thanksgiving game on Nov. 28, 2002.

This Sunday's game will mark the third time that the Patriots will play at Detroit on Thanksgiving.

In 2000, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his NFL debut against the Lions in a 34-9 Detroit win at the Pontiac Silverdome on Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 23, 2000. In 2002, the Patriots claimed a 20-12 victory on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field. The Patriots wore their throwbacks in that game as well.

SERIES TRENDSOverall Record: 5-4
Overall at Home: 3-2
Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium: 2-2
Gillette Stadium: 1-0
Overall on Road: 2-2
Pontiac Silverdome: 1-2
Ford Field: 1-0

PATRIOTS VS. NFC
The Patriots have been successful against NFC teams in recent seasons, compiling a 32-5 (.865) regular-season record against the conference since 2001. Including the postseason, the Patriots are 35-6 (.854) against the NFC with a 3-1 Super Bowl record since 2001.

The Patriots ended a 17-game winning streak against the NFC last season following a loss at New Orleans on Monday Night Football. The Patriots were 3-1 against the NFC last season.

The Patriots are 8-1 all-time against the NFC North since realignment in 2002. The Patriots have squared off against the NFC North in two seasons, finishing 3-1 in 2002 and 4-0 in 2006. The only loss was a 28-10 defeat vs. Green Bay on Oct. 13, 2002. The Patriots are 1-0 so far against the NFC North in 2010 following a 28-18 win over Minnesota on Oct. 31.

The Patriots will face all four NFC North teams this season. In addition to the Vikings game and the game this week at Detroit on Thanksgiving (11/25), the Patriots will play at Chicago (12/12) and vs. Green Bay (12/19).

BILL BELICHICK ON THANKSGIVING
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has coached six times on Thanksgiving: twice as an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions (1976-77), once with the Denver Broncos (1978), once with the N.Y. Giants (1982), and twice as the head coach of the New England Patriots (2000, 2002). He has a 3-3 record in those games.

PASSING PERFORMANCESTom Brady is scheduled to make his third career start against the Detroit Lions. Brady will play against Detroit on Thanksgiving for the third time in his career. Brady's NFL debut came in a game against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, 2000. In that game, he completed one of three passes for six yards while playing the final series of the game. Brady's first career completion was a 6-yard pass to tight end Rod Rutledge against the Lions. Brady started against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, 2002.

CONNECTIONS

COACHING CONNECTIONS

  • Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz entered the NFL as a college and pro scout under Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns from 1993-95.

NEW ENGLAND TIES

  • Detroit Lions Linebackers Coach Matt Burke is a native of Hudson, Mass., played safety at Dartmouth, was a graduate assistant coach at Boston College from 2000-02 and cornerbacks coach at Harvard in 2003.
  • Lions T Gosder Cherlius claims Somerville, Mass. as his hometown, and played football at Boston College.

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • Detroit Lions Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Jefferson played four seasons for the New England Patriots, from 1996-99.
  • LB Viny Ciurciu spent the 2009 training camp with the Patriots.
  • Lions QB Zac Robinson was a Patriots seventh-round draft pick in the Spring of 2010 and spent all of training camp on the New England roster before being released on Sept. 4.
  • Lions Running Back Coach Sam Gash was an 8th round draft pick by the Patriots in 1992 and played for the Patriots from 1992-97.

FORMER TEAMMATES

  • New England Patriots WR Deion Branch and Detroit Lions WR Nate Burleson, TE Will Heller, DE Jackson Lawrence, RB Maurice Morris and LB Julian Petersonwere all teammates on the Seattle Seahawks in 2008.
  • Patriots LB Tully Banta-Cain was teammates with Lions QBShaun Hill and WR Bryant Johnsonon the San Francisco 49ers in 2008.
  • New England WR Wes Welker and RB Sammy Morrisplayed on the Miami Dolphins in 2005 with Detroit TE Will Heller.
  • Pats TE Alge Crumplerand OL Quinn Ojinnaka were teammates on the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 with Lions CB Chris Houston.
  • Crumpler was also a member of the Tennessee Titans with Lions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch from 2008-09.
  • Patriots K Shayne Graham and Lions LB Landon Johnson played for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2004-07.
  • New England S Jarrad Page and Detroit DE Turk McBride played together on the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons, from 2007-09.
  • Pats LB Tracy White and Lions DT Corey Williams were teammates on the Green Bay Packers from 2006-07.

FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES

  • New England Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich and Detroit Lions DE Cliff Avrill were teammates at Purdue in 2004.
  • Patriots QBTom Brady and Lions T Jeff Backus were Michigan Wolverines together from 1997-99.
  • New England DL Ron Brace and Detroit T Gosder Cherliusboth played for Boston College from 2005-07.
  • Pats veteran C Dan Koppen and Lions LB Vinny Ciurciu both played for Boston College from 2001-02.
  • Patriots S Brandon Meriweather and Lions T Jason Foxboth played for the University of Miami in 2006.
  • New England WR Wes Welkerand Detroit C Dylan Gandy were teammates at Texas Tech from 2001-04.
  • Pats LB Tully Banta-Cain and Lions PNick Harris played together at Cal from 1999-2000.
  • Patriots LB Gary Guyton and Lions WR Calvin Johnson were teammates at Georgia Tech from 2004-06.
  • New England OL Matt Light and Detroit LB Landon Johnsonplayed together at Purdue from 1999-2000.
  • Pats LS Matt Katula and Lions LB DeAndre Levy were Badgers at Wisconsin in 2005.
  • Patriots LB Jerod Mayo and Lions DE Turk McBride Volunteer'd for Tennessee from 2005-06.
  • New England backup QB Brian Hoyer was an understudy for Detroit QBDrew Stanton at Michigan State in 2005.
  • Patriots OL Rich Ohrnberger and Lions OL Derrick Williams were teammates at Penn State from 2005-08.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

BY THE NUMBERS

2
The number of kickoff returns that WR Brandon Tate has returned for a touchdown in 2010 after he returned a 97-yard kickoff for a touchdown vs. Cincinnati (9/12) and a 103-yard kickoff for a touchdown at Miami (10/4). Tate is the first Patriots' player to return two kicks for a touchdown in a season since Kevin Faulk returned two for a touchdown in 2002. The Patriots' record for most returns in a single season is three by Raymond Clayborn in 1977.

2
The number of blocked kicks recorded by S Patrick Chung in 2010 after he blocked a punt and a field goal in the Patriots win at Miami (10/4). He is the first NFL player to block a field goal and a punt in the same game since CB Ramon Walker of Houston blocked a field goal and a punt vs. New England on Nov. 23, 2003.

3
The number of interceptions that the Patriots have returned for a touchdown in 2010 after LB Gary Guyton returned an interception 59 yards for a score vs. Cincinnati (9/12), S Patrick Chung returned an interception 51 yards for a score at Miami (10/4) and S James Sanders returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown at Pittsburgh (11/14).

6
The number of touchdown receptions by rookie TE Rob Gronkowski in 2010, a record for most touchdown catches by a rookie tight end in Patriots history. The old mark was 4 by Russ Francis in 1975 and Don Hasselbeck in 1977.

7
The number of rushing touchdowns in 2010 by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, establishing a career high. His previous best was the five he had as a rookie in 2008. He is on pace to finish with 10-plus rushing touchdowns, which would be the first since Corey Dillon had 13 in 2006.

10
With their eighth win of the 2010 season, the Patriots are guaranteed to finish the season with a record of .500 or better for the 10th consecutive year.

11
The number of 10-plus reception games by Wes Welker. He has the most 10-plus reception games in Patriots' history.

25The number of consecutive regular-season starts that Tom Brady has won at Gillette Stadium, tying Brett Favre's post-merger NFL record 25-game home winning streak.

28.9
The number of points the Patriots are averaging in 2010, the highest in the NFL. The Patriots are on pace to finish with 462 points, which would be second in team history to the 589 scored in 2007.

73The number of consecutive regular-season games that Welker has caught at least one pass. He has caught at least one pass in all 59 games as a member of the Patriots, including three postseason games.

76
The number of times that Brady has thrown two or more touchdowns in a game. The Patriots are 64-12 when he throws for two or more touchdowns.

105The number of wins that Brady has as a starting quarterback. He reached the 100-win milestone in the fewest number of starts (131) among all quarterbacks in the modern era.

131
The number of total tackles by LB Jerod Mayo. He is on pace to finish the season with 210 tackles. That number would be the highest since LB Steve Nelson had 207 tackles in 1984.

TOM BRADY NUMBERS

3
The number of times Tom Brady has passed for 4,000 or more yards in a season after his team-record third 4,000 yard season in 2009. His 4,398 passing yards last season are second to the team-record 4,806 passing yards he had in 2007.

5
The number of times that Brady has finished a season with 25 or more touchdowns after closing out the 2009 season with 28 touchdown passes. He is tied with Drew Brees for the fifth most seasons with 25 or more touchdowns. Brady has 19 TD passes in 2010 and is on pace to finish with 30 TD passes.

15
The number of times Tom Brady has earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He earned the award two times in 2009 – vs. Buffalo and vs. Tennessee.

31
The number of regular season 300-yard passing games by Tom Brady, a team record. Brady's seven 300-yard games in 2009 moved him past Drew Bledsoe (26) for the team record.

THE KRAFT ERA

3
The number of Super Bowl championships the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Only Denver (2; 1997 and 1998) and Pittsburgh (2; 2005 and 2008) have won multiple Super Bowl titles since 1994.

5
The number of conference championships the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Pittsburgh is second with three conference titles since 1994.

17
The number of playoff games the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Pittsburgh ranks second with 15 playoff wins over that span.

25
The number of playoff games the Patriots have appeared in since 1994. The mark is the highest in the NFL, ahead of the 23 games played by Pittsburgh.

177
The number of consecutive home games the Patriots have sold out, a streak that includes every preseason, regular season and playoff game since the 1994 regular season opener.

THE BELICHICK ERA

4
Bill Belichick is one of just four coaches to win three championships since the Super Bowl era began. Belichick joins three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the exclusive club (Chuck Noll 4, Joe Gibbs 3 and Bill Walsh 3). Belichick is the only coach to win three Super Bowls in the post-1993 salary cap era and the only one to ever win three in four years.

171
Bill Belichick passed Paul Brown and tied Joe Gibbs with his 171st career victory as a head coach, including playoff games. Belichick and Gibbs are tied for 11th in NFL history with 171 career victories.

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