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Patriots Host Cardinals in Preseason Home Opener

The New England Patriots will take the field in Foxborough for the first time since defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in last season’s playoffs when they take on the Arizona Cardinals in their 2006 preseason home opener at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (0-1) vs. ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-0)
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Gillette Stadium (68,756) - 8:00 p.m. EDT

The New England Patriots will take the field in Foxborough for the first time since defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in last season's playoffs when they take on the Arizona Cardinals in their 2006 preseason home opener at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. Last week, the Patriots dropped a 26-23 decision on the road to the Atlanta Falcons, and will now enjoy a two-game preseason homestand. Following the Arizona game, New England will host the Washington Redskins in Foxborough on Aug. 26.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by NFL Network and can be seen in Boston on WCVB Channel 5. Spero Dedes will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst Sterling Sharpe. Reporter Kara Henderson will contribute reports 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 stations can be found by clicking here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 30th 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 23rd season as a broadcast tandem.

PATRIOTS IN THE PRESEASON
New England has won 10 of its last 16 preseason games dating back to 2002. Since Bill Belichick became the head coach, the Patriots hold an overall mark of 16-10 (.615) in the preseason. Since Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000, the team is 4-2 in preseason home openers. Overall, New England is 17-28-1 in preseason home openers, 44-44-1 at home in the preseason and 63-63 (.500) in preseason games against NFC teams.

ROSTER REDUCTION DATESThe first mandatory roster cutdown date is August 29, two days prior to the Patriots' final preseason game. On that date, rosters must be reduced to 75 players, not including roster exempt players. On Saturday, Sept. 2, all roster exemptions will expire and rosters must be reduced to the regular-season limit of 53 players. On Sept. 3, clubs may establish an eight-man practice squad.

SERIES HISTORYThe New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals will meet for the third time in the teams' preseason history and for the first time in the preseason since 1991. The teams have also played 11 times in the regular season, with the Cardinals holding a 6-5 advantage in the series. New England has won four straight regular-season games against Arizona and has not lost to the Cardinals since 1991. Arizona will travel to Foxborough for a preseason game for the first time in team history. The first time the teams met in preseason play was in 1986, when they tangled in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio and the Patriots claimed a 21-16 victory. In the teams' only other preseason meeting, the Cardinals claimed a 46-0 shutout victory at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The last time the teams met in the regular season was in 2004, when New England claimed a 23-12 victory in Arizona. The last time the Cardinals traveled to New England for a game was a decade ago, when New England claimed a 31-0 victory in a regular-season tilt at Foxboro Stadium.

CONNECTIONS

  • Patriots running back Corey Dillon's highest single-game rushing total with the Patriots came on Sept. 19, 2004 against the Cardinals, when he ran for 158 yards on 32 carries.
  • Patriots veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Patriots punter Josh Miller were teammates from 1992-1993 at the University of Arizona.
  • Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel attended Central Florida from 1999-2002, during which time his head coach was current Cardinals quarterbacks coach and Boston College alumnus Mike Kruczek.
  • Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel was a college teammate of Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart at the University of Southern California from 2002-04.
  • Cardinals quarterback Rohan Davey was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft and was a member of the Patriots for three seasons from 2002-04.
  • Cardinals tight end Andy Stokes was drafted by the Patriots with the final selection of the 2005 NFL Draft, but was released during 2005 training camp.
  • Patriots quarterback Todd Mortensen is a native of Tempe, Ariz.
  • Cardinals defensive end Tyler King is a native of Attleboro, Mass.
  • Cardinals defensive tackle Tim Bulman is a native of Milton, Mass., and attended Boston College from 2001-04.
  • Cardinals running back Marcel Shipp attended the University of Massachusetts from 1997-2000, where he set UMass records with 1,215 carries for 6,250 yards, 58 touchdowns, 378 points, and 7,759 all-purpose yards.
  • Cardinals cornerback Dyshod Carter was in training camp with the Patriots in 2003, but did not make the final 53-man roster.
  • Cardinals offensive quality control coach Bill Khayat's father, Eddie Khayat, was the Patriots' defensive line coach from 1985-89.
  • Cardinals running backs coach Kirby Wilson held the same position with the Patriots from 1997-99. Additionally, Wilson was the wide receivers coach at the University of Southern California in 2001 when Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel was a freshman at USC.
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants while Cardinals defensive backs coach Richard Solomon was a pro scout for the Giants from 1987-90.
  • Cardinals offensive coordinator Keith Rowen served as the tight ends/special teams coach for the Patriots in 1989. Rowen was the tight ends coach for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1999-2004, during which time Patriots cornerback Eric Warfield played for the Chiefs.
  • Patriots strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik and Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast were both members of the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff in 1996.

BILL BELICHICK IN THE PRESEASON
Bill Belichick has compiled an overall record of 27-19 (.587) as a head coach in the preseason, including a 16-10 (.615) mark as Patriots head coach. Belichick's teams have been .500 or above in 10 of his 11 previous preseasons as a head coach in the NFL.

FIRST AND RUNNERS
Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney totaled 66 rushing yards on just eight carries during the Patriots' opening drive, which ended with Martin Gramatica's 26-yard field goal. Dillon started and ended the drive with 8-yard runs, his two longest rushes of the night. Maroney made his professional debut with a 12-yard run off right end on the fourth play of the possession, but the drive was highlighted when the Patriots' 2006 first round draft pick, took a handoff up the middle for a 27-yard gain on third-and-18.

MARONEY MAGICPatriots' first round draft pick Laurence Maroney showed speed and aggressive running in his first career pro game. The 5-foot-11-inch, 220-pound back amassed 66 rushing yards on nine carries in his debut. Maroney recorded at least 1,000 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in all three of his college seasons.

WIDE OPEN WATSONThird-year tight end Benjamin Watson hauled in a 44-yard pass from Matt Cassel during the Patriots' second scoring drive in the second quarter. Watson got open along the right sideline and sprinted down to Atlanta's 23-yard line, setting up the Patriots' second field goal of the evening, a 34-yarder from Stephen Gostkowski that cut the Falcons' lead to 10-6.

SAMUEL STOPPERFourth-year cornerback Asante Samuel halted a potential Falcons' scoring drive in the second quarter with an interception in the end zone. Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub looked for wide receiver Jerome Pathon on a corner route, but Samuel stepped in front and came away with the takeaway. Last year, Samuel collected an interception on the first play from scrimmage of the preseason when he picked off a Carson Palmer pass intended for Chad Johnson. Samuel recorded an interception in each of the last three games in which he played in 2005, including one he returned 73 yards for a touchdown in the playoffs against Jacksonville. Samuel has returned three of his eight career picks for touchdowns.

COBBS CREATESRookie free agent running back Patrick Cobbs made a strong first impression, taking his first professional reception 57 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Cobbs collected a screen pass from Matt Cassel and scampered down the left sideline for the score. The touchdown was the longest Patriots play from scrimmage in the preseason since Tom Brady connected with David Patten for an 85-yard touchdown against Washington (8/16/03). Cobbs finished the game with a team-best 80 receiving yards on three catches, while rushing five times for 25 yards. The 5-foot-9-inch, 210-pounder is North Texas' all-time leading rusher with 4,050 yards – making him only the 69th player in NCAA history to eclipse the 4,000-yard rushing mark. The Patriots signed Cobbs on May 15, 2006 following rookie mini-camp.

A PAIR OF KICKERS
Patriots' kickers made good on all three of their attempts in tonight's game. Seventh-year veteran Martin Gramatica got the Patriots on the scoreboard with a 26-yard field goal with 2:54 remaining in the first quarter and later connected on a 30-yarder to tie the score at 23 with less than three minutes remaining in the game. Rookie Stephen Gostkowski nailed his only attempt, a 34-yarder, with 12:39 remaining in the second stanza.

ROOKIE RECEPTIONSPatriots' rookies accounted for 11 receptions and 179 receiving yards. Fullback Garrett Mills, who snared a team-best five receptions for 75 yards, led the group Patrick Cobbs grabbed three passes for 80 yards, while tight end David Thomas hauled in two passes for nine yards. Wide receiver Erik Davis chipped in with one catch for 15 yards.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
ROSTER RUNDOWN90The number of players on the Patriots roster as of Aug. 12.

10The number of players on the Patriots roster who were drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in their respective seasons.

11The number of players on the Patriots roster who were drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft in their respective seasons.

25The number of rookies and first-year players on the Patriots roster. 25 The number of players on the Patriots roster who were drafted by the team in the last four drafts (2003-06).

49The number of Patriots who have accrued three or more seasons of NFL experience entering 2005.

2006 MILESTONES

1The number of 100-yard rushing games Corey Dillon needs to have recorded 40 such games in his career.

3The number of touchdown passes Tom Brady needs to move ahead of Vito "Babe" Parilli (132) into third place in franchise history behind Steve Grogan (182) and Drew Bledsoe (166).

20The number of points the Patriots' active scoring leader, Troy Brown, needs to reach the 200-point plateau.

21The number of catches Troy Brown needs to pass Stanley Morgan (534 receptions) to claim the franchise record.

29The number of receptions Kevin Faulk needs to pass Tony Collins (261 receptions) for the most by a Patriots running back in franchise history.

70The number of yards rushing that Corey Dillon (currently ranked 12th) needs to move ahead of Mosi Tatupu (2,415) and Leonard Russell (2,437) into 10th place on the Patriots all-time rushing list.

1,965The number of passing yards Tom Brady needs to become just the third player in franchise history to reach the 20,000-yard passing plateau, joining Drew Bledsoe (29,657) and Steve Grogan (26,886).

STREAKING

4The number of consecutive Pro Bowls to which Richard Seymour has been selected.

10The number of consecutive playoff games in which the Patriots defense has forced a turnover.

47The number of consecutive games in which Deion Branch has caught a pass.

49The number of consecutive games the Patriots have played since they last lost back-to-back games, dating back to December 2002. The NFL record is 60 games by the San Francisco 49ers from 1995-99. The next longest active streak in the NFL is the Denver Broncos with 20.

5
The number of consecutive 9 win seasons for the Patriots, the longest current streak in the NFL.

8
The number of consecutive Patriots overtime victories, the longest current streak in the NFL.

8
The number of career receptions by Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel (including playoffs). All eight receptions have been for touchdowns.

89
The number of consecutive games, including playoffs, that Tom Brady has started at quarterback.

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