The New England Patriots will kick off the 2005 NFL season by playing host to the Oakland Raiders in prime time on Thursday night in Foxborough. The fans of New England will have one final opportunity to celebrate their third world championship as the Super Bowl XXXIX banner is raised as part of a star-studded pregame show. Following the festivities, the Patriots will begin the 2005 campaign in earnest against the Raiders, a franchise against which New England has had many memorable matchups. With a playoff-like feeling in the air, Patriots fans will hope for an exciting beginning to what promises to be another memorable season.
LOCAL / NATIONAL BROADCAST
TELEVISION: This week's game will be televised nationwide by ABC and can be seen in Boston on WCVB Channel 5. The telecast will begin at 8:00 with an hour-long pregame show. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties and will be joined by analyst John Madden. Michele Tafoya will provide sideline reports throughout the game.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 34 stations can be found in this press release. Play-byplay broadcaster Gil Santos begins 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.
NATIONAL RADIO: The game will be broadcast nationally by CBS Radio. Play-by-play man Marv Albert will be joined in the booth by Boomer Esiason, and John Dockery will report from the sidelines. Jim Gray will host the pregame and halftime shows.
SPANISH RADIO: CBS Spanish Radio will broadcast this week's game. Armando Quintero and Benny Ricardo will call the action from Gillette Stadium.
NFL OPENING KICKOFF
For the second consecutive season, the New England Patriots will unveil a Super Bowl championship banner as the NFL starts the 2005 season in style with a one-hour pregame special, called "NFL Opening Kickoff". The show will air live on ABC from 8:00-9:00 p.m. EDT, featuring musical performances from Gillette Stadium featuring Green Day and Santana. The show, hosted from Foxborough by Freddie Prinze, Jr., will also feature Trisha Yearwood performing the national anthem at Gillette Stadium, live performances by Maroon 5 and Kanye West from Los Angeles (site of the first Super Bowl) and a taped performance by the Rolling Stones from Detroit (site of Super Bowl XL).
The Patriots and Raiders will meet for the 31st time overall and for the 28th time in regular season play. The teams have met three times in the playoffs, producing memorable, classic encounters on each occasion. The series between the two charter members of the American Football League dates back to 1960, the inaugural season for each club. Although the teams played frequently prior to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, they have met just twice since 1994 and only three times in the last 15 seasons. Although the Patriots defeated the Raiders in the last playoff meeting between the teams following the 2001 season, New England has dropped three straight regular-season contests to the Silver and Black. The last time the Patriots won a game in the regular-season series was in 1987, when they claimed a 26-23 win over the L.A. Raiders at Sullivan Stadium.
- Both of Oakland's coordinators were previously assistant coaches with the Patriots. Asst. Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye served as New England's offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 1990. Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was on the Patriots staff for four seasons, serving as Bill Belichick's linebackers coach (2000) and outside linebackers coach (2001-03).
- Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely was the offensive line coach at Oklahoma State from 1984-88, when Raiders outside linebackers coach Pat Jones was the Cowboys' head coach. Patriots assistant secondary coach Joel Collier also coached with Jones with the Miami Dolphins.
- Patriots cornerback Duane Starks' position coach at Miami (Fla.) was Raiders defensive assistant Chuck Pagano, who coached the Hurricanes' secondary while also serving as special teams coordinator from 1995-2000.
- Raiders senior personnel executive Michael Lombardi was the Cleveland Browns' pro personnel director (1989-92) and the franchise's director of player personnel (1993-96). During that time, he worked closely with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, who was head coach of the Browns from 1991-95, and Patriots VP-Player Personnel Scott Pioli, who was a pro personnel assistant (1992-95) and director of pro personnel (1996) for the Browns/Ravens franchise.
- Raiders owner Al Davis was born and raised in Brockton, Mass., located about 18 miles from Gillette Stadium.
- Raiders defensive end Bobby Hamilton played for the Patriots from 2000-03 and was a member of the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII championship teams. In his four seasons in New England, Hamilton did not miss a game, starting 62 of 64 regular-season contests and all six playoff games. He led the team with seven sacks in 2001.
- Raiders defensive tackle Ted Washington played for the Patriots in 2003, starting 10 games at nose tackle for the Super Bowl XXXVIII champions.
- Raiders fullback Omar Easy went to Everett High in Everett, Mass., where he earned Massachusetts player of the year honors from USA Today in 1996.
- Raiders guard Ron Stone is from West Roxbury, Mass. and played his college football at Boston College.
- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a native of San Mateo, Calif., about 30 miles from Oakland.
- Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain is from Sunnyvale, Calif., about 45 miles from Oakland.
READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL
This season will mark the third time in four years that the Patriots have opened the season in prime-time at home on national television. New England defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 in the Grand Opening of Gillette Stadium, then dispatched Indianapolis, 27-24, to open the 2004 season.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Patriots have recorded a 24-3 (.889) all-time record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games. New England has won 20 consecutive regular-season and postseason contests at home, compiling the longest current home winning streak in the NFL. New England has not lost at home since a 30-17 defeat to the New York Jets on Dec. 22, 2002. The Patriots' .889 winning percentage at Gillette Stadium is the highest of any NFL team at its current home.
HOME WINNING STREAK: 20 GAMES
The Patriots have not lost at home in more than two full calendar years. Since Dec. 29, 2002, the calendar has turned around twice, bringing all kinds of weather to Gillette Stadium, but one thing as remained constant – every game has resulted in a Patriots victory.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick make up the NFL's winningest head coach-quarterback combination since the AFL-NFL merger 35 years ago. Brady has started 62 consecutive regular-season games for the Patriots and the team has compiled a 48-14 record in those games, dating back to Week 3 of the 2001 season. Additionally, the Patriots are 9-0 in the playoffs over that span, making the duo's overall record together 57-14.
STARTING THE SEASON
The number of times in the last four years that the Patriots have opened the season at Gillette Stadium by raising a championship banner in a prime-time, nationally-televised game.
The Patriots' record in their last 10 home openers, including three straight wins dating back to 2002.
The last time the Patriots opened the season against the Raiders. The Patriots won 20-6 in the first regular-season game at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough on Sept. 18, 1971.
The Patriots' record in season-opening games since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000.