PATRIOTS (10-3) vs. 49ERS (9-3-1)
Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8:20 p.m. ET *
*Gillette Stadium (68,756)
The New England Patriots will play a primetime nationally-televised game for the second consecutive week when they host the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers in a Sunday Night Football matchup at Gillette Stadium. While the Patriots enter this week's game first in the NFL with an average of 36.3 points per game, the San Francisco defense is first in the NFL, allowing just 14.2 points per game.
The Patriots beat the Houston Texans, 42-14, last week on Monday Night Football to improve to a 10-3 record. The Patriots defense held the Texans to just 14 points after Houston entered the game averaging 29.3 points per game, which had been the second highest total in the NFL. The Patriots shut out the Texans in the first half and built a 42-7 lead before Houston closed out the scoring with a touchdown with 2:00 left in the game.
The Patriots had back-to-back primetime games one time in 2011, beating the New York Jets 37-16 on Sunday Night Football on Nov. 13 followed by a 34-3 win vs. Kansas City on Monday Night Football.
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.
PATRIOTS TO RECOGNIZE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
The Patriots and The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon ("The Hall") are recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week. The bronze busts of the Patriots' five members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame – John Hannah, Andre Tippett, Nick Buoniconti, Mike Haynes and Curtis Martin – are on display at The Hall throughout the week. On Saturday, Dec. 15, The Hall will host a special Speaker Series event from 3 to 5 p.m. featuring Tippett and Haynes. Tickets are available for purchase at www.thehallatpatriotplace.com. Tippett, Haynes and Curtis Martin will serve as honorary captains for the Sunday Night Football matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 16. During the game, the Patriots will wear patches on their uniforms commemorating the Pro Football Hall of Fame anniversary.
PATRIOTS WIN 10 GAMES FOR THE 10TH STRAIGHT YEAR
New England has reached at least 10 regular-season wins for 10 consecutive seasons, joining San Francisco (16) as the only teams in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
TELEVISION: The game will be broadcast by NBC and can be seen in Boston on WHDH-TV Channel 7. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collinsworth providing color. Michele Tafoya 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 40 stations can be found here. 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. Dave Sims and James Lofton will call the game. Steve Tasker will report from the sidelines.
The Patriots and 49ers will meet for the 12th time in their history. The last time the cross-country rivals tangled was when the Patriots traveled to San Francisco in 2008 and earned their first win at Candlestick Park with a 30-21 victory on Oct. 5, 2008.
The Niners hold a 7-4 lead in the series, but the Patriots have won the past three meetings ('98, '04 and '08). Prior to the Patriots' three-game winning streak, the Niners won six straight contests.
San Francisco will be playing at Gillette Stadium for the second time overall and for the first time since the 2004 regular-season finale, when they lost 21-7 on Jan. 2, 2005. The 49ers are 3-3 overall in games against the Patriots in New England.
Home Record, 3-3
Schaefer/Sulllivan/Foxboro Stadium, 2-3
Gillette Stadium, 1-0
Away Record, 1-4
Candlestick/3Com Park, 1-3
Stanford Stadium, 0-1
Total Points, Niners 264, Patriots 198
Longest winning streak, 2 games
Longest losing streak, 6 games (11/30/80 – 09/17/95)
Bill Belichick vs. San Francisco, 3-0 (2-0 with New England)
PATRIOTS ARE ALL-TIME DECADE LEADERS
This week's game will be battle between the team of the 2000s and the team of the 1990s. The New England Patriots' 126 wins in the 2000s is the all-time best mark for a decade in NFL history. In the 1990s, San Francisco had 122 wins, which was the third best record for a decade in NFL history.
- 49ers WR Randy Moss played for the Patriots from 2007- 10. The Patriots acquired Moss from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. In his first year with the Patriots, Moss caught an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes, surpassing Jerry Rice's previous record of 22. Moss' contributions were a key part of the Patriots setting several NFL single-season records, including most points in a season (589) and most touchdowns in a season (75) en route to completing the NFL's first 16-0 regular season. Moss also set team records for receiving touchdowns (23), overall touchdowns (23) and points scored by a non-kicker (138).
- 49ers Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely served as the Patriots Special Teams Coach from 1999-2008.
San Francisco, Calif. Ties
- Patriots QB Tom Brady was born in San Mateo, Calif. and attended Junipero Serra High where he earned two letters in both football and baseball. Brady was the starting varsity quarterback for two seasons (1993-94) and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2003.
- Patriots TE Daniel Fells played at UC Davis from 2001-05.
- Patriots G Logan Mankins was born in Catheys Valley, Calif., attended Mariposa (Catheys Valley, Calif.) High School and played football at Fresno State.
- Patriots WR Donte Stallworth is a native of Sacramento, Calif. and started two years as a wide receiver and cornerback at Grant High School. Stallworth was voted California Player of the Year and named an All-State defensive back and USA Today honorable mention All- American as a senior.
- Patriots RB Shane Vereen played at the University of California (Berkeley, Calif.) from 2007-10.
- Patriots WR Brandon Lloyd was originally drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Lloyd played for San Francisco from 2003-05 and was traded to the Washington Redskins after the 2005 season in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2006 and a fourth-round draft pick in 2007.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK VS. 49ERS
With one touchdown pass against the 49ers, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 46 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 36 games with three touchdowns and no interceptions and needs one more such game to break a second place tie with Brett Favre (36) and move into a first place tie with Peyton Manning (37).
Brady (3,833) needs 167 passing yards to reach 4,000 yards for the fifth time and join Dan Marino (6), Brett Favre (6), Drew Brees (7) and Peyton Manning (11) as the only players to have at least five seasons with 4,000 passing yards.
Brady has 29 touchdown passes and needs one more for his third straight 30 TD season. He will be the fourth quarterback in NFL history to have 30 or more touchdowns passes in at least four seasons and the third quarterback in NFL history with three or more straight seasons with 30 or more touchdowns.
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 6.5 sacks in 2012 and needs one more to set a career best. He had 6.5 sacks in 2011.
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 91 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 107 straight regular-season games with at least one reception, including his time with the Miami Dolphins.
Welker (95) needs 5 receptions to become the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons.
The Patriots are 21-0 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.
The Patriots defense has forced a turnover in 24 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 13 games of 2012. The last NFL team to have at least one takeaway in all 16 regular season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
BY THE NUMBERS
The Patriots have lost three games in 2012 by a total of four points. They are the first team to lose three games by two points or less in the first six games since the 1960 Dallas Texans.
Rob Ninkovich has three forced fumbles on sacks so far in 2012.
Julian Edelman (13.1 punt return average on 72 returns) needs three more punt returns to reach the NFL qualifying number to become the NFL's all-time punt return leader in average currently at 12.8 by George McAfee.
The number of interceptions in 2012 by rookie S Tavon Wilson, one more than the total he had during his college career at Illinois.
The number of sacks by rookie DE Chandler Jones in the first 12 games of the season. The Patriots rookie record for most sacks in a season is 10.5 by Garin Veris in 1985.
The number of strip-sack/turnovers the Patriots have in 2012 with one each by Trevor Scott, Vince Wilfork and 3 each by Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.
The number of 20-yard runs by RB Stevan Ridley. Since 2000, Corey Dillon and Antowain Smith are tied with 13 runs of 20 or more, followed by Ridley and Laurence Maroney (11).
The Patriots have now earned their 12th straight winning season, the third team in NFL history to have 12 straight winning seasons since the 1970 merger.
The number of times that Wes Welker has reached 100 yards receiving in a single half (6 in the first half and 3 in the second).
With Arizona falling to 4-9 and a losing record, the Patriots 20- 18 loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 16 was their first home loss to a team with a losing record since a 31-17 loss on Dec. 3, 1995 to New Orelans (7-9), 17 years ago.
The Patriots have won 20 straight games at home in December. The only time the Patriots have lost a game at Gillette Stadium in December was a 30-17 defeat by the Jets on Dec. 22, 2002.
The Patriots have forced a turnover in 24 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 13 games of 2012. The last team to have at least one forced turnover in all 16 regular season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.
The number of forced turnovers by the Patriots in 2012 (15 interceptions and 19 fumble recoveries), tied for second in the NFL to Chicago (35). The Patriots record for most forced turnovers in a season is 50 by the 1976 team. The most under the Belichick era is 41 by the 2003 team.
The number of first downs by the Patriots vs. Denver (10/7) to set a franchise record and make the Patriots the first team since the 1970 merger to have three straight games with 30 or more first downs.
During the Patriots' 21-game second half winning streak, the Patriots have forced opponents into 58 turnovers, while turning the ball over just seven times.
TOM BRADY BY THE NUMBERS
Tom Brady became the first player to follow a 500-yard performance with a 400-yard performance after Brady had backto- back games with 517 yards and 423 yards to start 2011.
The number of division championships by Tom Brady, surpassing the nine division titles by Joe Montana and Peyton Manning.
The number of times Brady has thrown for at least three touchdowns with no interceptions, tied for second in NFL history with Brett Favre (36), behind Peyton Manning (37).
The number of consecutive fourth-and-one conversations by Brady.
The number of consecutive games that Brady has thrown at least one touchdown pass, the longest active streak in the NFL and the third best ever behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).
The number of regular season 300-yard passing games by Tom Brady, a team record.
The number of times that Brady has thrown two or more touchdowns in a game. The Patriots are 89-16 when he throws for two or more touchdowns.
The number of passing yards by Brady in 2011, the second most in a season in NFL history.
THE KRAFT ERA
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), Pittsburgh (2; 2005 and 2008) and the NY Giants (2: 2007 and 2011) have won multiple Super Bowl titles since 1994.
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 four conference titles since 1994.
The number of division championships won by the Patriots since Kraft purchased the team in 1994.
The number of playoff seasons earned by the Patriots in the 19 seasons since Robert Kraft purchased the team.
The 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 17 playoff wins over that span.
The number of playoff games the Patriots have appeared in since 1994, the most in the NFL. Pittsburgh has the second most with 27.
The number of consecutive home games that have been sold out, including all playoff and preseason games dating back to the 1994 season opener.
THE BELICHICK ERA
In Bill Belichick's head coaching career, his teams have scored an average of 24.6 points per game, the highest total among head coaches who have coached 200 or more games as a head coach.
Bill Belichick has 202 career victories as a head coach, including playoff games for 7th place all-time.