Patriots (9-3) vs. Texans (11-1)
Monday, December 10, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. ET
* Gillette Stadium (68,756)*
The New England Patriots return to Gillette Stadium for the first of two primetime nationally-televised games. The Patriots will host the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football this week followed by a Sunday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers next week.
While New England clinched their fourth consecutive AFC East Title last week, Houston improved to 11-1 and clinched a playoff berth for the second straight
PATRIOTS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT FOR 14TH TIME IN KRAFT'S 19 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP
New England has now qualified for the playoffs 20 times in its 53-year history. The Patriots have earned 14 playoff berths in the 19 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, a dramatic contrast to the six total playoff berths that the team earned in its first 34 years of existence. New England has won 12 AFC East crowns under Kraft's leadership. New England has won 15 division crowns overall (14 AFC East Crowns) and has qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players' strike.
MATT LIGHT TO BE HONORED AT HALFTIME
Matt Light, who announced his retirement from the Patriots on May 7, 2012, closing his 11-year career as one of the most productive players in the team's history, will be honored at halftime of this week's game. Light was originally drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. The Purdue product spent his entire 11year NFL career with the Patriots. Light left the football field having played a major role in leading the Patriots to 11 consecutive seasons with a winning record, nine division championships, five conference titles and three Super Bowls. "For the past 11 seasons, Matt's many accomplishments, both on and off the field, made him the consummate Patriot," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "For more than a decade, Matt anchored the offensive line and protected Tom Brady's blind side, delivering three Super Bowl titles and five conference championships during his tenure."
The Patriots won more than half of their games for the 12th straight year after picking up their ninth win of the 2012 season over Miami last Sunday. They are the first team to win more than half of their games in 12 straight seasons since free agency began in 1993. The Patriots are the third team to win more than half of their games in 12 straight seasons since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining the 49ers (16 straight from 1983-1998) and the Cowboys (16 straight from 1970-85).
MOST CONSECUTIVE WINNING SEASONS (since 1970 merger)
San Francisco (1983-98) .................. 16
Dallas (1970-85).............................. 16
New England (2001-12) .............. 12
Oakland (1970-80) .......................... 11
TELEVISION: This week's game will be nationally televised by ESPN and can also be seen in Boston on ABC affiliate WCVB-TV Channel 5. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will call the game. Lisa Salters will be the sideline reporter. Jay Rothman will produce the game and Chip Dean will be the director.
RADIO: 98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 40 stations can be found in this press release. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 36th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action. Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak will handle the color commentary.
NATIONAL RADIO: This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience by Dial Global Radio Sports. Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason will call the game. Mark Malone will report from the sidelines.
The Patriots and Texans will meet for the fourth time since Houston entered the NFL in 2002 and for the first time since the 2009 regular-season finale when Houston took a 3427 win on Jan. 3, 2010. New England is 2-1 against Houston in the regular season with wins in 2003 and 2006 and a loss in the 2009 regularseason finale.
Houston lost 47-7 on Dec. 17, 2006 in their first and only visit to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots claimed a 23-20 overtime win in their first trip to Reliant Stadium on Nov. 23, 2003. The teams last met in the 2009 regular-season finale when Houston took a 34-27 win on Jan. 3, 2010.
Before the Texans joined the league, the Patriots and the Houston Oilers were old foes dating back to the days of the American Football League, playing twice a year from 1960-69 and 33 times overall before the Oilers moved to Tennessee following the 1996 season.
The Patriots have an all-time record of 80-47-1(.629) against the teams that make up the AFC South. It is the only division in the NFL where the Patriots own winning records against each team. New England owns winning marks against Tennessee (23-16-1), Indianapolis (47-29), Jacksonville (8-1) and Houston (2-1).
PATRIOTS ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
The New England Patriots are 21-22 all-time on Monday Night Football, including 14-5 under head coach Bill Belichick and 6-1 at home. The Patriots were 2-0 in 2011 on Monday Night Football, following a 38-24 win at Miami on Sept.12 and a 34-3 win vs. Kansas City on Nov. 21. The Patriots are 10-8 in home Monday Night Football games and 11-14 on the road.
Tom Brady is slated to start against the Houston for the fourth time in his career. He is 2-0 in games that he started and finished. In the 2009 game, the Patriots had already clinched the division, so Brady was relieved for portions of the game by back-up Brian Hoyer.
BRADY ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
QB Tom Brady owns a 12-4 record when playing on Monday Night Football. His best statistical performance on Monday Night Football was in the 2011 season-opener when he completed 32-of-48 pass attempts for 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker in the win at Miami (9/12). Brady has thrown three or more touchdowns in a Monday Night game eight times, including three four-touchdown performances. He has thrown four touchdowns in two of his last three Monday Night games. He had four in a 31-7 win at Minnesota (10/30/06), four in a 45-3 win vs. NY Jets (12/6/10) and four in a 38-24 win at Miami (9/12/11).
BILL BELICHICK ON MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Bill Belichick is 15-8 all-time on Monday Night Football, including 14-5 as head coach of the Patriots.
New England Ties
- Texans Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison began his coaching career at Suffield Academy in Suffield, Conn, before joining the Denver Broncos coaching staff in 1995.
- Texans Special Teams Coordinator Joe Marciano coached the wide receivers at The University of Rhode Island from 1978-79.
- Texans NT Terrell McClain appeared in one game for the Patriots in 2012.
- Texans K Shayne Graham played eight games for New England in 2010 and was a perfect 12-for-12 on field goals during his stint with the Patriots.
- Patriots Special Teams Coach Scott O'Brien served as the Linebackers/Special Teams Coach for Rice University during the 1986 season.
- Patriots T Sebastian Vollmer attended the University of Houston from 2005-2008.
- Patriots Wide Receivers Coach Chad O'Shea was born on Dec. 18, 1972 in Houston. O'Shea went to Marshall University to play quarterback before transferring to the University of Houston (1994-1995). O'Shea got his coaching experience started at his alma mater acting as the team's graduate assistant (1996), wide receivers coach (1997), and tight ends/special teams (1998-1999).
- Texans T Ryan Harris played for the Denver Broncos from 2007-10 and teamed up with Patriots LB Niko Koutouvides (2008) and WR Brandon Lloyd (2009-10).
- Patriots S Steve Gregory and Texans LB Tim Dobbins were defensive teammates in San Diego from 2006-09.
- Patriots CB Aqib Talib and Texans LB Barrett Ruud were defensive teammates with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2008-10. Patriots LB Niko Koutouvides also played with Ruud in Tampa Bay from 2009-10.
- Patriots LB Tracy White and Texans S Quintin Demps played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009.
- Patriots WR Brandon Lloyd played one season in Chicago with Texans S Danieal Manning (2008).
- Texans P Donnie Jones has teamed up with a number of Patriots throughout his career. In 2004 Jones played in Seattle with Patriots LB Niko Koutouvides and Patriots LB Tracy White. From 2005-06 Jones teamed up with Patriots WR Wes Welker in Miami. During his five years with the St. Louis Rams, Jones played with Patriots TE Daniel Fells (2008-10), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (2010-11) and WR Brandon Lloyd (2011).
NFL'S TOP DECEMBER RECORDS SINCE 2001
The Patriots have an NFL-best 42-5 record in the month of December since the 2001 season, including a 4-0 record in 2011.
The Patriots have finished undefeated in December seven times since 2001: (2001 - 4-0), (2003 – 4-0), (2005 – 4-0), (2007 – 5-0), (2008 – 4-0), (2010 - 4-0) and (2011- 4-0).
DECEMBER TO REMEMBER
The Patriots have now won 12 consecutive regular-season December games, a streak that began with a win over the Carolina Panthers on December 13, 2009. The Patriots are the fourth team in NFL history to win 12 consecutive regularseason games played in December. San Diego holds the record, posting 18 consecutive regular-season wins in December from 2006-2009. The Patriots also had 12 straight December wins from 2006-08.
2012 AFC EAST CHAMPIONS
The Patriots claimed the AFC East Division title for the fourth consecutive season and for the 12th time under Robert Kraft.
DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots ................. 12
Pittsburgh Steelers .......................... 10
Green Bay Packers ............................ 8
Indianapolis Colts .............................. 8
PLAYOFF SEASONS SINCE 1994
New England Patriots ............... 14
Indianapolis Colts .......................... 13
Green Bay Packers ........................ 13
Pittsburgh Steelers ........................ 12
Philadelphia Eagles ........................ 11
Dallas Cowboys ............................... 9
PATRIOTS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT FOR 14TH TIME IN KRAFT'S 19 YEARS OF OWNERSHIP
New England has now qualified for the playoffs 20 times in its 53-year history. The Patriots have earned 14 playoff berths in the 19 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. New England has won 12 AFC East crowns under Kraft's leadership. New England has won 15 division crowns overall (14 AFC East Crowns) and has qualified as a Wild Card team on four occasions (1998, 1994, 1985 and 1976). The Patriots also qualified for the playoffs in 1982 as part of a 16-team tournament following a players' strike.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK VS. HOUSTON
Bill Belichick (201) needs one more win to break a tie with Dan Reeves and move into sole possession of seventh place all-time.
With one touchdown pass against the Texans, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 45 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).
Brady has 52 career 300-yard games in the regular season and needs one more to break a fifth place tie with Kurt Warner. Brett Favre is in fourth with 62 300-yard games.
Brady tied Drew Brees with his ninth NFL game with four touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions against St. Louis and needs one more such game to be alone in first place.
Brady has 35 games with three touchdowns and no interceptions and needs one more such game to tie Brett Favre (36) for second place, behind Peyton Manning (37).
Brady (3,537) needs 463 passing yards to reach 4,000 yards for the fifth time and join Dan Marino (6), Drew Brees (6), Brett Favre (6) and Peyton Manning (11) as the only players to have at least five seasons with 4,000 passing yards.
Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history.
Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.
With 10 tackles, Jerod Mayo will have his 10th 10-plus tackle game of the season. He had a career-best with 10 double digit tackle games in 2010.
Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles. If he has one more forced fumble he will break a tie with Mike Vrabel (five in 2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.
Ninkovich has 6.0 sacks in 2012 and needs one more to set a career best. He had 6.5 sacks in 2011.
If Stevan Ridley (9) gets one more touchdown it will be the 13th time in Patriots history that a running back finished a season with 10 or more touchdowns rushing.
Ridley (9) and Rob Gronkowski (10) can both reach 10 touchdowns. It will be the third straight seasons and the fifth time in team history that the Patriots have had two players finish with 10 or more touchdowns in a season.
Wes Welker (17) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a tie with Jerry Rice (17) for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.
Welker needs one reception to extend his streak to 90 straight regular-season games with at least one reception as a member of the Patriots to extend his franchise record. Welker has an overall streak of 106 straight regular-season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins.
Welker (92) needs 8 receptions to become the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons.
The Patriots are 20-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the season. Their last loss in the second half was in the 2009 season-finale at Houston, a 34-27 loss, on Jan. 3, 2010.
With one more victory the Patriots will secure their 10th straight season with at least 10 wins.