NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (8-5) vs TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-4)
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Gillette Stadium (68,756)
1:30 p.m. EST
The Patriots, winners of four of their last five games, will host the 9-4 Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon. Tampa Bay has also won four of its last five and has been victorious in its last three road games, including a 20-10 win at Carolina last Sunday. New England will hope to build on its convincing 35-7 victory in Buffalo last week, but will have to do so against a Buccaneers defense that ranks third in the NFL in allowing just 16.1 points per game. The two teams will square off for the first time since Sept. 3, 2000 - Bill Belichick's first regular-season game as Patriots head coach.
BROADCAST INFORMATIONTELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by the Fox Network and can be seen in Boston on WFXT Channel 25. Dick Stockton will handle playby- play duties and will be joined in the booth by analyst Daryl Johnston. Reporter Tony Siragusa will contribute analysis 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-byplay 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.
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 19-0 as a starter when it's below 40 degrees.
PLAYOFF SCENARIOSThe Patriots can clinch the AFC East title this week if they defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Miami Dolphins lose to the New York Jets or both the Patriots and Dolphins games end in a tie. If any of those scenarios happen, the first-place Patriots would lead the second-place Dolphins by two games in the standings with two games to play and the Patriots would be assured of winning the tiebreaker over the Dolphins based on a better divisional record. The Patriots have won five division titles in the 11 full seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, and have led the NFL over that span with 12 playoff wins, four conference championships and three Super Bowl titles. New England has won the AFC East crown in three of the last four seasons (2001, 2003, 2004). The Patriots finished tied for the best record in the AFC East in 2002, but the New York Jets claimed the division crown on the third tiebreaker (record against common opponents). The Patriots have won eight division titles in their 45-year history.
SERIES HISTORYThe Patriots and Buccaneers will meet this week for the first time in nearly six full seasons. The teams have not played since Sept. 3, 2000 - Bill Belichick's first regular-season game as the head coach of the Patriots. Tampa Bay claimed a 21-16 victory in that game, but the Patriots have won three of the five total games in the series, which dates back to 1976, the first year of existence for the Buccaneers franchise. New England won the first three games in the series from 1976-88, but Tampa Bay has claimed the most recent two meetings. The Patriots' last victory over the Buccaneers came more than 17 years ago - on Dec. 11, 1988. The 17-year victory gap is the second longest for the Patriots, trailing only a 33-year win drought against the Washington Redskins.
VICTORY DROUGHTThe Patriots have not defeated the Buccaneers in regular-season play since 1988, making them one of just two teams the Patriots have not defeated since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. The only team against which the Patriots hold a longer victory drought than the Buccaneers is the Washington Redskins (last win in 1972). Since the beginning of the 2001 season, the Patriots have defeated 28 of the 31 other NFL teams.
INFREQUENT FOESThe Patriots and Buccaneers will meet for just the sixth time in regular-season play. The teams have played just five times since the series was inaugurated 30 seasons ago (1976). The Patriots' five games against Tampa Bay are the fewest against any team that entered the league prior to the most recent era of expansion, which began with the entry of the Jaguars and Panthers to the NFL in 1995.
FIRST TIME FOR TOMThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only NFL team against which Tom Brady has never started a game. Brady has compiled a record of 24-6 (.800) when starting against a team for the first time. Tampa Bay, Washington and Green Bay are the only teams against which Brady has not recorded a victory.
PATRIOTS VS. NFC SOUTHThis season's scheduling rotation has the four AFC East teams playing each of their counterparts from the NFC South. This week's game is the final NFC South contest for the Patriots. They have compiled a 2-1 record in their first three inter-conference games. The Patriots dropped a 27-17 decision at Carolina on Sept. 18 before rebounding with victories at Atlanta (31-28 on Oct. 9) and against New Orleans (24-17 on Nov. 20). Next season, the Patriots' inter-conference opponents will come from the NFC North (vs. Chicago, vs. Detroit, at Green Bay and at Minnesota). The Patriots will not play the NFC South teams again until the 2009 season.
- Patriots linebacker Don Davis played for the Buccaneers for two seasons from 1999-2000.
- Buccaneers defensive end Greg Spires played for the Patriots from 1997-2000.
- Patriots safety Michael Stone and Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman were teammates with the Arizona Cardinals during the 2001 season.
- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Buccaneers assistant head coach / defensive line coach Bill Muir were on the same coaching staff with the New York Jets from 1997-1999.
- Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest was a college teammate of Buccaneers linebackers coach Joe Barry at USC.
- Buccaneers assistant strength & conditioning coach Mike Morris served as the speed coach for the Patriots during 1997-1999 seasons.
- Buccaneers running back coach Art Valero was the assistant head coach at Louisville while Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch was there from 2000-01.
- Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin and Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott were teammates at Purdue in 1995.
- Patriots defensive linemen Jarvis Green and Marquise Hill were teammates at LSU with Buccaneers wide receiver Michael Clayton.
- Patriots defensive back Eugene Wilson and Buccaneers fullback Jameel Cook were teammates at Illinois from 1999-2000.
- Patriots linebacker Chad Brown and Buccaneers wide receiver Joey Galloway played together for three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks 1997-1999.
- Buccaneers defensive tackle Chris Hovan was a four-year starter at Boston College from 1996-99.
- Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour and Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips were teammates at Georgia from 1997-2000.
SOLID DOWN THE STRETCHOver the last four seasons, the Patriots have stepped things up a notch as the calendar has flipped to November. Since 2001, New England has done a remarkable job of finishing the season strong, compiling a 43-7 (.860) record after Nov. 1, including playoff games. In fact, since the 2003 season, the Patriots are 26-3 (.897) in games played in November or later, and New England has won 27 of its last 30 games post-Nov. 1. Their record in such games is the best in the NFL since 2001.
ICE MENNew England has won 15 consecutive games when the kickoff temperature has been 35 degrees or colder, including two such wins this season. The Patriots are 24-2 (.923) since 1993 when the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or colder. The last time the Patriots lost a game in temperatures of 35 degrees or below was on Dec. 24, 2000, when they dropped a 27-24 decision to Miami on a 31-degree day at Foxboro Stadium. Also since 1993, the Patriots are 20-1 when the temperature is 34 degrees or colder, and 14-0 when it's 30 degrees or colder. Additionally, Tom Brady is 19-0 as a starter when the temperature is less than 40 degrees.
The number of consecutive games in which Deion Branch has recorded exactly five receptions.
The number of receptions Branch has recorded in 2005, a number that has set a career high and ranks as the most for a Patriots receiver since Troy Brown recorded 97 catches in 2002.
The number of receiving yards Branch has totaled through 13 games, the most for a Patriots receiver since Troy Brown had 890 receiving yards in 2002.
The number of receiving yards Branch is on pace to total in 2005, a figure that would be the most for a Patriots receiver since Troy Brown had 1,199 yards in 2001.
IN THE RECORD BOOKS14
The number of rushing yards the Patriots allowed last week against the Bills, the second fewest in franchise history behind only a 2-yard stifling of San Diego on Dec. 17, 1961.
The number of first downs the Patriots gained against the Bills last week, setting a team record.
The number of total net yards the Patriots gained against Buffalo last week, the second most in team history for a road game, trailing only the 498 total net yards gained at Buffalo on Nov. 23, 1975.
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 19 starts when the game-time temperature is less than 40 degrees.
Adam Vinatieri's field goal success rate in his last 17 games when the game-time time temperature is less then 40 degrees (89.5 percent). The success streak includes a 13-for-14 performance in playoff games and dates back to Dec. 16, 2001.
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.
The Patriots' all-time record in snowy games in Foxborough. The franchise moved there from Boston in 1971.
Tom Brady's career record in games played on Thanksgiving or later in the NFL season (.879 winning percentage), including playoff games.
The number of victories the Patriots have earned in their last 21 post-Thanksgiving games, including playoff games, dating back to the 2002 season finale.
The number of consecutive fourth-quarter field goals Adam Vinatieri has made since missing a 43-yarder in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 8, 2002.
Vinatieri's success rate in the second half of games since the 2003 season finale. He has hit 30 of his 31 second-half field goals since that time.
Vinatieri's accuracy numbers since the beginning of the 2001 season when the Patriots are either leading or behind by a touchdown or less.
The number of game-winning kicks Vinatieri has converted in his career, including two this season, 12 since the beginning of the 2001 season and two in Super Bowl play.
The number of points Vinatieri has scored in his career, setting the Patriots' all-time record (Gino Cappelletti ranks second with 1,130 points).
The number of successful field goals Vinatieri has made in his career, the most in Patriots history.
Consecutive games in which Vinatieri has played, establishing the second longest streak in team history. He trails only Raymond Clayborn's franchise record (161). Vinatieri has not missed a game in his 10-year career.
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 receptions David Givens needs to set a singleseason career high. Givens enters this week's game with 50 receptions and set a career high with 56 receptions 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.
Consecutive 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 gone 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.