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Patriots ride winning streak into meeting with Vikings

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Patriots (5-1) vs. Vikings (2-4)Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Sunday, October 31 at 4:15 PM

The New England Patriots won their fourth straight game to improve to a season record of 5-1 with a 23-20 win at San Diego last Sunday. This week, the Patriots return to Gillette Stadium to face their first NFC opponent in 2010 when they square off against the Minnesota Vikings.

While the Patriots have a scary record of 2-5 on games played on Halloween, this week's game will be the team's first Halloween game played at home. The Patriots have been successful against NFC teams in recent seasons, compiling a 31-5 (.861) regular-season record against the conference since 2001. Including the postseason, the Patriots are 34-6 (.850) against the NFC with a 3-1 Super Bowl record since 2001.

PATRIOTS THROWBACK GAME
The 2010 season marks the 25th anniversary of 1985 AFC Championship team. To help honor the 1985 season, the Patriots will wear throwback uniforms that replicate the ones worn by that team this Sunday against Minnesota. It is the first of two games in 2010 in which the Patriots will wear throwback uniforms. The Patriots will also wear throwback uniforms on Thanksgiving at Detroit on Nov. 25. The Patriots will wear red jerseys with white pants and a white helmet featuring the 'Pat Patriot' logo with white facemasks. New England finished 11-5 in 1985 and captured the franchise's first AFC Championship trophy, qualifying for the Super Bowl after winning three consecutive road games. The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon recently launched an exhibit to highlight the 1985 team. Last season, the Patriots wore throwback uniforms in four games to help honor the 50th anniversary of the AFL, replicating the ones worn by the 1963 team that claimed the franchise's first division title and competed in the franchise's first league championship game.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by FOX and can be seen in Boston on WFXT-TV Channel 25. Thom Brennaman will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman providing color. Pam Oliver will serve as the sideline reporter. The game will be produced by Richie Zyontz and directed by Rich Russo.

NATIONAL RADIO:This week's game will be broadcast to a national audience the Sports Radio USA. Larry Kahn and Ross Tucker will call the game. Tony Grazianai will serve as the sideline reporter.

RADIO:98.5 FM, The Sports Hub, is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network's 36 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 34th 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 27th season as a tandem.

PATRIOTS WICKED GOOD IN OCTOBER
With last week's win over San Diego, the Patriots improved to 28-5 in the month of October since the 2003 season. The Patriots have won 19 out of their last 21 October games. The Patriots are 3-0 in 2010 in October.

PATRIOTS RECORD AGAINST THE NFC AT HOME SINCE 2002
The Patriots have won 15 straight games at Gillette Stadium against NFC opponents. The only loss was the very first game against an NFC opponent at the new stadium in 2002 when the visiting Green Bay Packers beat the Patriots, 28-10, on Oct. 13.

SERIES HISTORY
The Patriots and Vikings will meet for the 11th time overall and for the first time since 2006, a 31-7 Patriots win on Monday Night Football at the Metrodome. Minnesota will make its first trip to New England since Nov. 24, 2002 when the Patriots beat the Vikings, 24-17 in Minnesota's first ever visit to Gillette Stadium. The Patriots are 4-2 overall against Minnesota in home games with a 0-1 record at Harvard Stadium, a 3-1 record at Foxboro stadium and a 1-0 record at Gillette Stadium.

Two of the more memorable games were a 1994 Patriots win and the 2006 Monday Night Football win. The Patriots entered the 1994 game with a 3-6 record before overcoming a 20-0 deficit for a 26-20 win that sparked a seven-game winning streak and a 10-6 record to earn a playoff berth. Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe set NFL records with 45 completions and 70 attempts while passing for a team-record 426 yards in that game. In the 2006 game, Tom Brady completed 29-of-43 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns, and LB Tully Banta-Cain celebrated the birth of his first child, and then that night set a then career-high with 2.5 sacks.

SERIES BREAKDOWN
Overall Record: 6-4
Record in New England: 4-2
Harvard Stadium: 1-0
Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium: 3-1
Gillette Stadium: 1-0
Record in Minneapolis: 2-2
Metropolitan Stadium: 2-0
HHH Metrodome: 0-2
Bill Belichick vs. Minnesota: 1-3 (1-1 with New England)
Brad Childress vs. New England: First Meeting

PATRIOTS VS. NFC
The Patriots have been successful against NFC teams in recent seasons, compiling a 31-5 (.861) regular-season record against the conference since 2001. Including the postseason, the Patriots are 34-6 (.850) against the NFC with a 3-1 Super Bowl record since 2001.

The Patriots ended a 17-game winning streak against the NFC last season following a loss at New Orleans on Monday Night. The Patriots were 3-1 against the NFC last season.

The Patriots are 7-1 all-time against the NFC North since realignment in 2002. The Patriots have squared off against the NFC North in two seasons, finishing 3-1 in 2002 and 4-0 in 2006. The only loss was a 28-10 defeat vs. Green Bay on Oct. 13, 2002.

The Patriots will face all four NFC North teams this season with a game at Detroit on Thanksgiving (11/25), at Chicago (12/12) and vs. Green Bay (12/19).

PASSING PERFORMANCES
Tom Brady is slated to start against Minnesota for the third time in his career. Brady's first start was in 2002 when he threw three touchdown passes in a 24-17 Patriots victory. In his second start in 2006 on Monday Night Football at the Metrodome, Brady threw for 373 yards with four touchdowns in a 31-7 win.

Brett Favre is 4-3 all-time when facing New England, including a victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Favre was 3-2 against the Patriots with Green Bay and 1-1 against the Patriots when he played for the Jets in 2008. Favre is 3-1 all-time in Foxboro and 2-0 against the Patriots at Gillette.

CONNECTIONS

NEW ENGLAND TIES

  • Minnesota Vikings Assistant Special Teams Coach Chris Whiteis a Haverhill, Mass. native, graduated high school from Phillips Andover Academy and played quarterback at Colby College from 1986-89.

FORMER PATRIOTS

  • Vikings wide out Randy Mosswas a member of the Patriots for three-plus seasons and broke many records, including setting the NFL's single-season touchdown reception mark with 23 in 2007. He was traded from the Patriots to the Vikings on Oct. 6, 2010.

FORMER TEAMMATES

  • New England Patriots S Jarrad Pageand Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen both played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2006-07.
  • Patriots LB Tracy Whitewas a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, along with three current Vikings: WR Hank Baskett, WR Greg Lewis and CB Lito Sheppard.
  • Tracy White also played for the Green Bay Packers in 2007 with Minnesota QB Brett Favre and CB Frank Walker.
  • White was also a Seattle Seahawk from 2003-04 with current Viking G Steve Hutchinson.
  • New England LB Rob Ninkovich and Minnesota WR Greg Camarillowere teammates on the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
  • Patriots RB Sammy Morris and Vikings CB Antoine Winfield played for the Buffalo Bills simultaneously from 2000-03.

FORMER COLLEGE TEAMMATES

  • New England Patriots DE Jermaine Cunningham, TE Aaron Hernandez and LB Brandon Spikes were teammates at the University of Florida with Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin from 2007-08.
  • Patriots QB Tom Bradyand Vikings G Steve Hutchinson played three years together at the University of Michigan, from 1997-99, including winning the 1997 national championship.
  • New England RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Minnesota S Jamarca Sanford were fellow Rebels at Ole Miss from 2006-07.
  • Pats OLMark LeVoir and Vikes C John Sullivan played their college football together for three years at Notre Dame, from 2003-05.
  • Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich and Vikings DE Ray Edwardswere teammates at Purdue from 2004-05.
  • New England S Jarrad Page and Minnesota P Chris Kluwe were both Bruins at UCLA in 2003.
  • Pats DL Gerard Warren and Vikes CB Lito Sheppard were Florida Gators together for two seasons, from 1999-2000.
  • Patriots NT Vince Wilforkand Vikings T Bryant McKinnie played together at the University of Miami in 2001.

WINNINGEST COACH/QB TANDEM
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have the best winning percentage among a head coach-starting quarterback tandem since the 1970 merger.

TOUGH AT HOME
The Patriots own an overall record of 62-13 (.827) at Gillette Stadium. Since their state-of-the-art facility opened at the beginning of the 2002 season, the Patriots own the NFL's best record at home.

PATRIOTS FORCE TURNOVERS
The Patriots lead the NFL with a 82 turnover margin since the 1997 season.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

BY THE NUMBERS

2
The number of kickoff returns that WR Brandon Tate has returned for a touchdown in 2010 after he returned a 97-yard kickoff for a touchdown vs. Cincinnati (9/12) and a 103-yard kickoff for a touchdown at Miami (10/4). Tate is the first Patriots' player to return two kicks for a touchdown in a season since Kevin Faulk returned two for a touchdown in 2002. The Patriots' record for most returns in a single season is three by Raymond Clayborn in 1977.

2
The number of blocked kicks recorded by S Patrick Chung in 2010 after he blocked a punt and a field goal in the Patriots win at Miami (10/4). He is the first NFL player to block a field goal and a punt in the same game since CB Ramon Walker of Houston blocked a field goal and a punt vs. New England on Nov. 23, 2003.

2
The number of interceptions that the Patriots have returned for a touchdown in 2010 after LB Gary Guyton returned an interception 59 yards for a score vs. Cincinnati (9/12) and S Patrick Chung returned an interception 51 yards for a score at Miami (10/4).

3
The number of consecutive games that DE Mike Wright has registered a sack. The last player to go at least three straight games with a sack was in 2008 when Richard Seymour had 3.5 sacks in a four-game stretch.

4
The number of consecutive games that BenJarvus Green-Ellis has scored a rushing touchdown. He had a stretch of four straight games with a rushing touchdown as a rookie in 2008.

11
The number of 10-plus reception games by Wes Welker. He has the most 10-plus reception games in Patriots' history.

14The number of kickoffs that Stephen Gostkowski has kicked for a touchback in 2010. Last season he tied a Patriots record with a career-high 21 touchbacks. Justin Canele had 21 touchbacks in 1966 for the Patriots.

23
The number of consecutive regular-season starts that Tom Brady has won at Gillette Stadium. The NFL record for most consecutive home wins by a starting quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger is held by Brett Favre, who won 25 straight games for Green Bay (1995-98).

29.5
The number of points the Patriots are averaging in 2010. The Patriots are on pace to finish with 472 points, which would be second in team history to the 589 scored in 2007.

69
The number of consecutive regular-season games that Welker has caught at least one pass. He has caught at least one pass in all 55 games as a member of the Patriots, including three postseason games.

72The number of times that Brady has thrown two or more touchdowns in a game. The Patriots are 61-11 when he throws for two or more touchdowns.

77
The number of total tackles by LB Jerod Mayo. He is on pace to finish the season with 205 tackles. That number would be the highest since LB Steve Nelson had 207 tackles in 1984.

102
The number of wins that Brady has as a starting quarterback. He reached the milestone in the fewest number of starts (131) among all quarterbacks in the modern era.

THE KRAFT ERA

3
The number of Super Bowl championships the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Only Denver (2; 1997 and 1998) and Pittsburgh (2; 2005 and 2008) have won multiple Super Bowl titles since 1994.

5
The number of conference championships the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Pittsburgh is second with three conference titles since 1994.

17The number of playoff games the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span. Pittsburgh ranks second with 15 playoff wins over that span.

25
The number of playoff games the Patriots have appeared in since 1994. The mark is the highest in the NFL, ahead of the 23 games played by Pittsburgh.

175The number consecutive home games the Patriots have sold out, a streak that includes every preseason, regular season and playoff game since the 1994 regular season opener.

THE BELICHICK ERA

4
Bill Belichick is one of just four coaches to win three championships since the Super Bowl era began. Belichick joins three members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the exclusive club (Chuck Knoll 4, Joe Gibbs 3 and Bill Walsh 3). Belichick is the only coach to win three Super Bowls in the post-1993 salary cap era and the only one to ever win three in four years.

112-38The Patriots' regular season record since 2001 under Head Coach Bill Belichick. Under Belichick, the Patriots have won 74.7 percent of their regular season games, recording the highest winning percentage of any major American professional sports team over that span.

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