The Patriots open divisional play facing the challenge of returning to the site of last season's 31-0 season-opening defeat, a game which proved to be an inauspicious beginning to a season that would become one of the most successful campaigns in pro football history. New England can make more history this week if it defeats Buffalo, as a win would be the Patriots' 18th consecutive triumph, a streak that would tie the all-time pro football record for consecutive regular-season and postseason wins. But despite having not lost a meaningful game on more than a year, the Patriots continue to prepare on a strict game-by-game basis. The prospect of facing a divisional rival at the site of last season's shutout loss will surely keep the Patriots focused for this week's clash with the Bills.
This week's game will be broadcast on CBS. The game can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle the play-by-play duties and Phil Simms will provide analysis. Bonnie Bernstein will provide reports from the sidelines.
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.
*The game will be broadcast nationally by Westwood One. Bob Fitzgerald and Jack Ham will call all the action from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Patriots have won 17 consecutive regular-season and postseason games, marking just the eighth time in pro football history that a team has won that many consecutive games. New England is one victory shy of tying the all-time mark of 18 straight wins, a record attained on six different previous occasions. When the Patriots take the field in Buffalo this week, more than an entire calendar year will have elapsed since they last lost a meaningful game. New England's last defeat was a 20-17 setback to the Washington Redskins on Sept. 28, 2003.
BEAST OF THE EAST
The Patriots have recorded the best divisional record among AFC East teams over the last three seasons. Since 2001, the Patriots are 15-5 against divisional opposition, including a 14-3 record in their last 17 games. Over the same three-year time span, the Miami Dolphins rank second with an 11-9 record, the New York Jets are third with a 10-10 record, while the Buffalo Bills have compiled a 5-15 record. New England has won five consecutive AFC East games and recorded a 5-1 intra-division record last season. The Patriots' only divisional loss in 2003 came to the Bills in the season opener.
PATRIOTS – BILLS QUICK HITS
- The Patriots have recorded 47 wins against the Bills, their most against any opponent.
- Bill Belichick holds a 6-3 career record against Buffalo, including a 6-2 record as head coach of the Patriots.
- Six of the last 12 games in the series have been decided by four points or fewer (NE 3-3).
- Four of the last nine games in the series have been decided in overtime (NE 2-2).
- The Patriots and Bills have played in 19 games decided by three points or fewer since 1972.
- The Patriots are 13-6 against the Bills in their last 19 meetings.
- Since 1993, the two teams have played five overtime games, good for a total of 51:49 of extra time, almost equaling an entire game.CONNECTIONS
- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's defensive game plan from the Giants' Super Bowl XXV win over the Buffalo Bills is permanently on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
- While Belichick was the head coach at Cleveland, he hired Don Blackmon as the linebackers coach. Blackmon is currently the linebackers coach for Buffalo. Blackmon also played for the Patriots for eight seasons (1981-87).
- Bills linebacker London Fletcher was a college teammate of Patriots quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels and Patriots director of pro personnel Nick Caserio at John Carroll University in 1996 and 1997.
- Patriots wide receivers coach Brian Daboll attended St. Francis High in Buffalo where he lettered in football. He also was a two-year starter at free safety at the University of Rochester.
- Bills defensive backs coach Steve Szabo was a volunteer coach for the Patriots in 2003.
- Patriots running back Kevin Faulk had a career-long, 45-yard touchdown run against the Bills on New England's first possession of the third quarter in a 38-7 win (11/03/02).
- Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, while playing for the Chargers, had a career-high three sacks in a 16-14 win over Buffalo in the 1998 season opener (09/06/98).
- Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson recorded a career-high 17 tackles against Buffalo on Nov. 15, 1998.
- Bills defensive tackle Sam Adams' father, Sam Adams, Sr., played for the Patriots for nine seasons (1972-80).
- Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe was drafted by the Patriots with the first overall selection in the 1993 NFL draft. He spent nine seasons with New England and earned three Pro Bowl selections.
- Bills safety Lawyer Milloy was drafted by the Patriots in the second round (36th overall) in the 1996 NFL draft. He played in 112 games in eight seasons in New England and earned four Pro Bowl nods.
- Bills wide receiver Josh Reed was a teammate of Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green and quarterback Rohan Davey at LSU.
The number of consecutive regular-season and postseason games the Patriots have won.
The number of consecutive wins in the longest winning streak in pro football history, a feat that includes regular-season and postseason games and is shared by six teams: Chicago (1933-34 and 1941-42), Cleveland (1947-48), Miami (1972-73), San Francisco (1989-90) and Denver (1997-98).
THE KRAFT ERA
The number of consecutive Patriots preseason, regular-season and postseason home games that have been sold out since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994.
The number of consecutive Patriots games that have been televised locally.
The Patriots record at home since 1994, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games.
The Patriots' record at Gillette Stadium, including preseason, regular-season and postseason games (.833 win pct).
The number of consecutive regular-season and postseason games the Patriots have won at Gillette Stadium.
SEVEN-PLUS SOLID SEASONS
The Patriots' record in preseason, regular-season and postseason games since 1996 (.629 win pct.).
The Patriots' regular-season record since 1996 (.608 win pct).
The Patriots' postseason record since 1996 (.750 win pct).
The Patriots' preseason record since 1996 (.647 win pct).
THE BELICHICK ERA47-25
Bill Belichick's overall record as head coach of the Patriots, including the regular season and the playoffs.
Belichick's overall winning percentage as Patriots head coach, establishing the highest winning percentage of any coach in franchise history, including postseason games.
Belichick's record in regular-season and postseason games since the beginning of the 2001 season, tops among all NFL coaches over that span.
Tom Brady's record as a starting quarterback in the NFL in the regular season.
Brady's winning percentage as a starter.
Brady's rank on the NFL's all-time winningest quarterbacks list during the Super Bowl Era (since 1966).
The number of quarterbacks in the Super Bowl Era who own a career regular-season winning percentage above .700 (Brady, Roger Staubach, Joe Montana).
WHAT A RUSH5.2
Corey Dillon's average gain per carry through two games of the 2004 season.
Dillon's average gain over his eight-year career.
The Patriots' team record for average gain per rush over an entire season, set in 1976.
The average gain per rush by the Patriots this season.
The last season in which the Patriots averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry as a team.
COREY CARRIES THE LOAD244
The total number of yards Dillon has gained in his first two games as a Patriot.
The average number of yards per game Dillon has gained in a Patriots uniform.
The projected number of yards Dillon will gain this season if he keeps up his current pace.
The Patriots record for yards gained by a single player in a season, set by Curtis Martin in his rookie year of 1995.
The number of 1,000-yard rushers the Patriots have had in the last five seasons (Antowain Smith, 1,157 yards in 2001).
The number of running backs who have recorded a 1,000-yard season in a Patriots uniform.
The number of seasons in the Patriots' 44-year history that the team has produced a 1,000-yard rusher.
The number of touchdowns Tom Brady has thrown for this season.
The number of yards Brady has thrown for through two games.
The number of points Adam Vinatieri has scored this season.
Vinatieri's field goal percentage this season, as he has gone a perfect 5-for-5 through two games.
The average yardage of Josh Miller's six punts this season.
The Patriots' team punting average last season.
NOT HALF BAD25
The number of consecutive regular-season and postseason games the Patriots have won when leading at halftime.
Their record in their last 31 games when leading at halftime.
The number of consecutive regular-season games the Patriots have won when leading after three quarters, leading the NFL.